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Books: Housekeeping

February 9, 2010 | Books

I just finished reading Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Wow. Could it be any more different than Gilead? I don’t think so. Gilead was about a dying man writing to his son, yet each page was filled with joy and hope. Housekeeping was about two sisters growing up together, and each page was filled with abandonment, separation, growing apart and dark, dark, dark things. It was SO sad and depressing.

No matter what the topic, though, Robinson is a master at putting words together. Just a few quotes that stood out for me.

It was a source of both terror and comfort to me then that I often seemed invisible — incompletely and minimally existent, in fact. It seemed to me that I made no impact on the world, and that in exchange I was privileged to watch it unawares.

Having a sister or a friend is like sitting at night in a lighted house. Those outside can watch you if they want, but you need not see them. You simply say, ‘Here are the perimeters of our attention. If you prowl around under the windows till the crickets go silent, we will pull the shades. If you wish us to suffer your envious curiosity, you must permit us not to notice it.’ Anyone with one solid human bond is that smug, and it is the smugness as much as the comfort and safety that lonely people covet and admire.

I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected — an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There had never been one, a fact I could have accepted, were it not true that, just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hit in its shadows.

Then there is the matter of my mother’s abandonment of me. Again, this is the common experience. They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are so lost in thoughts of their own, and soon or late they disappear. The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise.

I’m reading her book Home right now.

Posted by Becky @ 6:10 am  

2 Responses to “Books: Housekeeping”

  1. Cyndi Says:

    Ouch, that is a tough read. How are you liking Home? Hope it’s a little more joyous

  2. Becky Says:

    Home is a much more enjoyable read. It’s a continuation / extension of Gilead. I adore this author.

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