Sunday salon 3 August 2008. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
But at the moment I am reading GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson. This was a book recommended to me by Adele Geras. It is an unusual book, written in the voice of an old preacher who feels his days are numbered. He meanders on, recounting past events, some of the tales so circuitous that they seem to fold on top of themselves; threads are lost are then picked up and developed a little more...it really does give the impression of age, and also wisdom. There are no chapters, few breaks, there are sometimes references to small events going on around him, but but mostly it is the old man's memories.
This may not sound particularly riveting, but it is. Despite the obvious differences in setting, time and just about everything else, I feel there is a similarity between this book and McCarthy's THE ROAD. In both cases the narrative is unrelenting and the overall effect is oddly mesmerising. I keep turning the pages, and I am not sure why. Nothing exciting happens. The insights are undramatic. I haven't yet come across a passage I feel I need to shove in front of Hodmandod Senior's face and demand that he reads it too...
Even so I read on very happily with the strong impression that I am learning some great truth, which will only become apparent at the end.
I wonder if I'm right.