Sunday, 5 April 2015

HOME by Marilynne Robinson

Another book about an alcoholic. I decided to try in anyway, because I so admired Robinson’s other two books – her first novel, HOUSEKEEPING, and then her second, twenty years later, GILEAD. These are both wonderful novels, in particular GILEAD, so I was very excited to read HOME as it involves some of the same characters and is in some sort a continuation of that book.

It tells the story of an alcoholic named Jack, who has been away from home for twenty years, and now returns exhausted to his father, a pastor, and his sister who has likewise returned home a mess.

The father and sthe ister do a lot of agonizing. One of the more annoying aspects of this book is that they don’t just go ahead and call Jack was he is, an alcoholic; they act like there is some sort of dark and secret reason for his behavior, some implicit sin, some mystery; and much of the book is spent trying to ferret this mystery out. Guess what, he has a drinking problem. It’s not very mysterious.

The other books were much interested in religion, and I found this actually kind of interesting, and fundamentally positive. It’s unusual in a modern book For example, in GILEAD, the elderly man talks about the joy he had as a child baptizing kittens, and the sense it gave him of the sacred nature of all life. In HOME Christianity seemed to be mostly about condemnation, and a childish view of how ‘bad’ someone could be. I found it silly.

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