2007: 103. Gilead

“I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.”

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

Well, I guess the prize committees get it right, once in a while.  This book won the Pulitzer in 2005, and deserved it.  I’d been putting it off reading it, because the plot sounded sort of uninteresting (a dying minister in 1950’s Iowa reflects back on his life).  I could not have been more wrong - this is a book about a man’s life, and what greater story could there be?  The premise is that he is writing a letter to his seven year old son, so that after he dies the boy will know what sort of man his father was.  The real story is about a man grappling with morality, and faith, and love.  It is sad, and heartbreaking and beautiful, and I loved it.  This is a book that teaches you about the world as it is, and could offer great solace.  It is a book that makes me really understand what Christianity could be - not as preached on television, but as trying to legitimately live one’s life in Christ.  I must read her other book, Housekeeping.


Here is a passage that broke my heart, from pg. 210 of the hardcover version (remember, this is written to his seven year old son):

Why do I love the thought of you old? The first twinge of arthritis in your knee is a thing I imagine with all the tenderness I felt when you showed me your loose tooth.  Be diligent in your prayers, old man.  I hope you will have seen more of the world than I got around to seeing -- only myself to blame.  And I hope you will have read some of my books.  And God bless your eyes, and you hearing also, and of course your heart.  I wish I could help you carry the weight of many years.  But the Lord will have that satisfaction.


God, is that what its like to be a parent?  


Recommended for:  Everyone.  Read this book.


Date/Place Completed: 7/11/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017