Our second book in January is going to be Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, as was decided/mandated by a segment of our excellent meeting in December. Originally published in 1980, we're dropping back from our recent spate of current non-fiction works.
"Their lives spun off the tilting world like thread off a spindle," says Ruthie, the novel's narrator. The same may be said of Becket Royce's subtle, low-keyed reading. The interwoven themes of loss and love, longing and loneliness—"the wanting never subsided"—require a cool, almost impersonal touch. Royce narrates natural and manmade catastrophe and ruin as the author offers them: with a sort of watery vagueness engulfing extraordinary events. Occasionally this leads Royce to sound sleepy or to glide over humor. But she expresses Ruthie's story without any irksome effort to sound childlike, and she avoids the pitfall of dramatizing other characters, such as the awkward sheriff, the whispery insubstantiality of Aunt Sylvie or the ladies bearing casseroles to lure Ruthie away from Aunt Sylvie and into their concept of normality.
And some reviews!
"So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn't want to miss any pleasure it might yield."--The New York Times Book Review
"Here's a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life...You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people that we thought only saints felt."--Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
Plus, I liked it a whole lot when I read it in the mid 1980s.
There will likely be a meetup for a smaller book earlier in the month as we try going with two-a-months meetings. See you in January! And I hope everyone has a great Holiday Season.
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