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Home (2008)


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Just discovered this.

QUOTE
Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson�s Pulitzer Prize�winning novel. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames�s closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack�the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years�comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton�s most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.

Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson�s greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.

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::w00t::

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Double-edged sword: It either makes the first book richer, or diminishes it. Very, very risky, but I'll certainly read it.

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Wow. That's more like it -- no more of these 20-year intervals between novels! My whole lifetime, literally, elapsed between Housekeeping and Gilead.

I mean, luckily, it continued after Gilead was published, but I'm just saying.

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:lol:

I don't think I've ever pre-ordered anything in my life, ever; so when I pre-order this it'll be a first!

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::cheer::

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Ron Charles:

Writing one novel about a minister's family is asking for trouble; writing a second seems downright unrepentant, the kind of misjudgment that could land a reputable literary author in a Christian bookstore or with a cozy series on the BBC. But Robinson, who teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is unlikely to suffer either fate; her books are toxic to sentimentality. Even more than their stylistic beauty, what's miraculous about Gilead and Home is their explicit focus on spiritual affliction, discussed in the hard terms of Protestant theology. Robinson uses the words "grace," "salvation" and "prayer" frequently and without embarrassment and without drifting into the gassy lingo of ecumenical spirituality. Her characters cower in the shadow of perdition.

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There is an excerpt in the Sept. 9 issue of The Christian Century. Not available online.

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Rich piece at The New Republic about Gilead and Home.

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I'm enjoying Home very much, only it's bugging me that I read Gilead too long ago to remember how these characters and events looked from Ames's point of view. I'm going to have to dig it out and do a side-by-side reading!

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Home has been nominated for the National Book Award.

My copy of the audiobook has just come in at the library. Has anyone heard it? I was put off by the narrator of Gilead, which I "read with my ears" twice before reading the novel in print (I slowly warmed up the narrator). I've got the print version of Home on my birthday list but figure I'll dive into the audio version. If it's anywhere near as good as Gilead, I'll want to experience it both ways.

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Home has been nominated for the National Book Award.

My copy of the audiobook has just come in at the library. Has anyone heard it? I was put off by the narrator of Gilead, which I "read with my ears" twice before reading the novel in print (I slowly warmed up the narrator). I've got the print version of Home on my birthday list but figure I'll dive into the audio version. If it's anywhere near as good as Gilead, I'll want to experience it both ways.

I'm finished. I liked it, but I didn't like it quite as much as Gilead -- I think simply because I loved Ames as a narrator in the first book. (Interesting how differently he comes across in Home. He's still recognizable, but different.)

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I'm into disc one, and despite the narrator's "old man voice" used for Boughton, I'm settling into the narrative. I hear Home is a more demanding read than Gilead.

Meanwhile, here's a profile of Robinson from today's Style section in The Washington Post:

If you want to understand how different Marilynne Robinson is from other contemporary novelists -- how different, in fact, from most contemporary human beings -- all you need to do is walk into her dining room.

"These are my favorite books in here," says the author of "Housekeeping," "Gilead" and the recently published "Home" as she motions toward the bookcase that fills one end of the small space. "See, look: Calvin, Calvin, Calvin."

Sure enough, here are the multivolume "Commentaries" of the great 16th-century Protestant theologian, whom Robinson considers one of the most falsely caricatured figures in history. Here are the two volumes of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," without which she thinks you can't understand Herman Melville. Surrounding these are a multitude of other theological and educational works, few less than a century old. ...

Speaking of unusual: Try to imagine another 21st-century writer beginning a crucial scene in each of two novels by having a character say: "Reverend Ames, I'd like to know your views on the doctrine of predestination."

"I think that's a very thorny problem!" Robinson says, and laughs.

In Christian theology, predestination is the idea -- not universally accepted -- that God has foreordained all human fates, including damnation and salvation. The obvious problem with it is that it undermines the concept of free will. But "the problem with any other construct," as Robinson explains, "is that it limits the power of God."

Edited by Christian

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I'm into disc one, and despite the narrator's "old man voice" used for Boughton, I'm settling into the narrative. I hear Home is a more demanding read than Gilead.

Meanwhile, here's a profile of Robinson from today's Style section in The Washington Post:

If you want to understand how different Marilynne Robinson is from other contemporary novelists -- how different, in fact, from most contemporary human beings -- all you need to do is walk into her dining room.

"These are my favorite books in here," says the author of "Housekeeping," "Gilead" and the recently published "Home" as she motions toward the bookcase that fills one end of the small space. "See, look: Calvin, Calvin, Calvin."

Sure enough, here are the multivolume "Commentaries" of the great 16th-century Protestant theologian, whom Robinson considers one of the most falsely caricatured figures in history. Here are the two volumes of Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion," without which she thinks you can't understand Herman Melville. Surrounding these are a multitude of other theological and educational works, few less than a century old.

"Look at this," she says, flipping through the pages of a densely illustrated family Bible picked up in an antiques store. She points to a clutch of McGuffey Readers, then to "one of my treasures," a 19th-century biographical encyclopedia filled with "people that have dropped out of history."

Marilynne Robinson's 1998 book The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought is centered on the rehabilitation of John Calvin's image, at least as that image is understood within broader American culture. She makes a convincing case that he was far from the humorless, rigid moralist that he is often portrayed to be.

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Wasn't he predestined for this image, mistaken or not?

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Wasn't he predestined for this image, mistaken or not?

Only in the most limited sense. His negative reputation is largely unmerited, the result of the irresistible momentum of theological retrenchment and the totally depraved opinions of his harshest critics.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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I'm about a third of the way through this right now, and am really starting to enjoy it. It doesn't have the immediate, fragile lyrical beauty of Gilead, but I feel like its riches are starting to show. Seeing the story of Gilead it from the Boughton's perspective is fascinating.

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Marilynne Robinson has won the Orange prize for Home.

Perhaps the surprise was that there was no surprise. This year's Orange prize for the best novel written by a woman was last night won by a writer regarded by some as one of the greatest of living novelists: Marilynne Robinson.

Fi Glover, the broadcaster who chaired this year's judging panel, admitted the decision had been straightforward and unanimous. Home, Robinson's beautifully crafted exploration of family relationships and redemption, was the easy winner from the six shortlisted books, she said. "All of the judges brought a couple of books to the table which they thought were definitely the contenders and Home was in all of our choices. We were in agreement."

Glover said she had now read Home three times and it got better, more deep and profound, each time. "It does that wonderful thing of describing life that you almost knew about but never managed to put your finger on."

Edited by Overstreet

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I'm about a third of the way through this right now, and am really starting to enjoy it. It doesn't have the immediate, fragile lyrical beauty of Gilead, but I feel like its riches are starting to show. Seeing the story of Gilead it from the Boughton's perspective is fascinating.

I thought the same thing when I was reading it--both things, actually. :) As I thought about it, I don't think Home can have the same type of writing because Glory's story (and her character) is so different from Reverend Ames.

I think of Home as another version of the prodigal son story, only this one has all the messy parts left in b/c it's more from the POV of the older son who stayed home. While Glory left and then returned, she is, in a lot of ways, similar to the older son in the Biblical story, only she has secrets I'm pretty sure the older son never had. :)

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Dang. Just seeing this thread title makes me want to reread Gilead and Home.

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Dang. Just seeing this thread title makes me want to reread Gilead and Home.

I know what you mean. :)

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Marilynne Robinson's 1998 book The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought is centered on the rehabilitation of John Calvin's image, at least as that image is understood within broader American culture. She makes a convincing case that he was far from the humorless, rigid moralist that he is often portrayed to be.

I am not sure how Marilynne Robinson fares in other threads. I need to look harder and maybe then I will delete this post. For now, for anyone who ends up here having only read her novels, I want to address The Death of Adam.

(Robinson's a writer whose accolades seem to belie any rift between Christianity and mainstream art. Unless Christian is synonymous with Evangelical, which I think it often must be? When I hear that rift mentioned I think of her Pulitzer and other awards. Or even, more recently, her frontpage piece on the Bible in a NYT Book Review. )

Death of Adam is not exactly centered on the rehabilitiation of Jean Calvin's image, but he is the subject of one essay and others allude to him. Among the book's many thoughtful rebukes, Robinson regrets our lost touch with this strand of our heritage in particular - and our larger tendency to claim secondhand intimacy with the minds that shaped Western civilization. (Unread, we condemn or laud Calvin, Marx, Darwin.) I owe this book a debt of gratitude. Years ago, it pushed me to read Calvin, to see for myself. I never found a home in Calvinism but I found worth and illumination - and as Robinson also promised, a more educated and comprehensive grasp of my nation's history.

My debt goes so far beyond one defamed theologian. I have a deep affinity with Robinson's classical liberalism and her religious and ethical sensibility. I can only guess how I've absorbed her intellectual rhythms over the years and how my own convictions have been formalized by hers. So I want to recommend all her essays as unstintingly as the novels.. I really, really love the contemplative, unostentatious morality and idealism of both. What some might see as simplification I experience as clarity. But I am not sure her Christianity is a passkey to your approval, nor that it should be. If you see either the science of evolution or the conscience of environmentalism as at odds with Christianity, if you think social Darwinism - valorized in eugenics or unrestrained capitalism- is a false category . . . then much of her writing, and definitely a few essays in this book, could go against the grain. She has a classical liberal conscience (not always easy to distinguish from traditional, intellectual conservatism). To me, the old-fashionedness of her scholarship is part of the distance that makes it prescient. None of which may appeal to you.

But then, she writes so beautifully in this book of Bonhoeffer and Margeurite de Navarre, of Psalm Eight, churchgoing, and a child's awareness of divinity, faults liberal condescension and pettiness, defends the union of social enlightentment and devout Christianity against contemporary aspersions, calls for reverence, but never gullibility or servility . . . .

Here is a glimpse into the introduction:

[These essays] have characteristic preoccupations - religion, history, the state of contemporary society - and they are, all of them, contrarian in method and spirit. They assert, in one way or another, that the prevailing view of things can be assumed to be wrong, and that its opposite, being its image or shadow, can also be assumed to be wrong. They undertake to demonstrate that there are other ways of thinking, for which better arguments can be made.

On her lifelong, persistent church attendance:

From time to time, on the strength of the text, the minister will conclude something brave and absolute - You must forgive, or, If you think you have anything because you deserve it, you have forgotten the grace of God, or, No history or prospect of failure can excuse you from the obligation to try to do good. These are moments that do not occur in other settings, and I am so far unregenerate that they never cease to impress me deeply. And it touches me that this honorable art of preaching is carried forward when there is so little regard for it among us now.

And from the last essay on 'The Tyranny of Petty Coercion':

I am a mainline Protestant, a.k.a. a liberal Protestant . . . . I do not by any means wear my religion on my sleeve. I am extremely reluctant to talk about it at all, chiefly because my belief does not readily reduce itself to simple statements.

Nevertheless, I experience these little coercions . . . . Don't I know that J.S. Bach and Martin Luther King have been entirely eclipsed by Jerry Falwell? The question has been put to me very directly: Am I not afraid to be associated with religious people? These nudges would have their coercive effect precisely because those who want to put me right know that I am not a fundamentalist. That is, I am to avoid association with religion completely or else be embarrassed by punitive association with beliefs I do not hold. What sense does that make? What good does it serve? . . . . This is only one instance of a very pervasive phenomenon, a pressure toward concessions no one has the right to ask.

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Love that, Josie. I've always meant to read The Death of Adam but never have. I won't promise to do so now, but I appreciate the reminder that this hole remains in my reading of Robinson.

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Thank you, Christian!

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Every time this thread pops up, there's a second where I think it's about the X-Files episode "Home," which is one of the ickier hours of TV I've ever seen.

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