Sunday, July 11, 2010


Home by Marilynne Robinson
Read: 4/20/10-5/2/10
LibraryThing tags, if I had put this on LibraryThing: Family, Dysfunction, Grace, SLOBS

This book wasn't quite satisfying to me, but I decided to share about it anyway because of a couple compelling features: first, it's one of the only books I can think of about people from a big family -- after the kids are all grown up. An obvious hole in the existing literature, for people like me... not that there are many of us, but still. I thought it might interest my siblings. In Home they're all dispersed, the book is only really about three of the family members, but the large family still changes things, affects their memories and so on.

Second, the father in this book is... growing at least a little senile. I related to that too, although I feel funny saying much about it on my blog. But for those who don't know, I, being the next-to-youngest in a very large family, have older parents than people would expect for someone of my age. Like Glory, the main character in Home (although she's actually the youngest, and there were only... eight in the family, I think). My mother... seems to be losing some of her memory.

It was weird, seeing things I've never even put into words, skillfully and even lovingly portrayed in a fictional character completely unconnected to my family. To see in someone else's character some of the things I think odd about my mother in particular, apparently a possible general feature of someone growing old, even where it's only a more extreme version of a trait that was already there. Sorry, it's not easy to be more specific.

It was a hard book to read, but I liked it; or at least some of the time I liked it. I still want to read Gilead before I come to a final verdict -- the book jacket claimed Home is an "entirely independent" work, but I'm not sure I trust it. The father in Home is the best friend of the main character in Gilead. Apparently.

Oh, by the way, as to what the book's really about, as opposed to what I personally identified with about it -- it's about a son who fills the prodigal son and rebellious preacher's kid roles, but not exactly; it's about a father and retired preacher who loves him, but is sometimes horrible; and about a grown woman who has come back home because her own dreams have fallen down around her, watching the father-son relationship, wanting to be important somehow to her big older brother she's always admired but... Um. She's not the narrator, it's in third person, but it's still from her perspective. The book's not really about her, but it is. Yeah, a helpful description, I know. Anyway. And, of course, it's about home, in all its glory or lack thereof. So many things about home. Marilynne Robinson is very, very good (in this novel, at least) at showing the ambiguities and complexities of human relationships. There aren't a lot of dramatic, earth-shattering events in Home, but she makes even a person over-analyzing a situation totally engaging. She packs a lot of emotion into very simple sentences and scenes. So yeah, I think I liked it.

"'It is an oddly patient beast, my carnal self. I call it Snowflake. For, you know, its intractable whiteness. Among other things.'"


thec0keman said...

those cats are so photo-shopped

Marcy said...

Yeah, but they're still cute. And it looks like they were only doubled, could be worse.