Marilynne Robinson has built a sterling reputation as a writer of sharp, subtly moving prose, not only as a major American novelist, but also as a rigorous thinker and incisive essayist. In" When I Was a Child I Read Books" she returns to and expands upon the themes which have preoccupied her work with renewed vigor.Read more...
Marilynne Robinson has built a sterling reputation as a writer of sharp, subtly moving prose, not only as a major American novelist, but also as a rigorous thinker and incisive essayist. In" When I Was a Child I Read Books" she returns to and expands upon the themes which have preoccupied her work with renewed vigor.
In "Austerity as Ideology," she tackles the global debt crisis, and the charged political and social political climate in this country that makes finding a solution to our financial troubles so challenging. In "Open Thy Hand Wide" she searches out the deeply embedded role of generosity in Christian faith. And in "When I Was a Child," one of her most personal essays to date, an account of her childhood in Idaho becomes an exploration of individualism and the myth of the American West. Clear-eyed and forceful as ever, Robinson demonstrates once again why she is regarded as one of our essential writers.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-12-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Gilead, Robinson weighs in with a series of tightly developed essays, some personal but mostly more general, on the Big Themes: social fragmentation in modern America, human frailty, faith. Her project is a hard-edged liberalism, sustained by a Calvinist ethic of generosity. Among her contemporary intellectual models are theologians such as John Shelby Spong and Jack Miles. From earlier times, she invokes Moses, Jesus, Calvin, Emerson, Johann Friedrich Oberlin (who figures indirectly in Gilead), Poe, Whitman, and others. In these times of the ever-ascending religious right, in the aftermath of what she sees as the ideologically secularist-driven cold war, Robinson bravely explores the corrosive potion of “Christian anti-Judaism” and what it really ought to mean to be “a Christian nation.” The closing essay is about the twin establishmentarianism straitjackets of Freudianism and Darwinism in the collective presumptions regarding the supremacy of self-interest—ill-informed fundamentalist nostalgias being one clear sign—which, she says ruefully, have supplanted true religious discourse. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)