I’m back from Sweden which is a magical fairy land filled with stoic blonds and small gnomes. I finished two amazing books, The Moviegoer and Housekeeping, as well as got a good hatchet strike into Crime and Punishment. Tomorrow I’m off to climb Mt. Greylock, one of the great literary inspirations (in the mountain community). While the standard reason sited for climbing mountains is “because they’re there” my reason is “because I’m here.” Etymologically different or fundamentally the same?
So on to one of the books I read. Houskeeping. I say without exageration that it is one of the greatest novels I have ever read and perhaps the best english language book every written on a purely technical level. With time that will modulate, but I’m still in the afterglow of reading it.
The novel is about two young girls that are raised by a series of relatives after their mother drops them off at their grandmothers house and then runs off. While dealing with the same environment and parental figures they take vastly different paths. Throughout the novel a sense of the magical touches everything, but the magic at the right moments reveals itself to be pure illusion, and a cover for a world as filled with malignancies as it is with magnificents.
Every sentence is rich with symbolic, semantic, and emotional meaning for the narrative. It’s absurd how perfectly crafted the sentences are, not just in a holly shit this is amazing and poetic but also, this tells me everything I need to know while giving insight into the human experience. Take this, one of my favorites and also one of the best I’ve ever read
Time and air and sunlight bore wave and wave of shock, until all the shock was spent, and time and space and light grew still again and nothing seemed to tremble, and nothing seemed to lean.
It just draws you in. You wander with it. The sentece is its own universe of meaning, establishes it’s own system of logic and order that seems like it was there all the time. Like that is the world you’ve know, a world that functions by elemental resonances, and that Marilynne Robinson just reminded us was there.
In context it comes after discussing what the three daughters do in sketch like fashion and how the death of their father had impacted them. It encapsulates loss so well, as well as the gradual acceptance and acclimation.
The reveal towards the end about the true nature of the house is played out fantastically. It reminded me a bit of the part in Swamplandia where the veil of magical realism is dropped and the true nature of the birdman is revealed.
I plan on rereading this. A lot. Like maybe once a year. But in the meantime, Gilead just moved up a few spaces on my reading list. I think maybe after Crime and Punishment. Though Crabgrass Frontier may have to happen silmultaneously…since that is research for Whalom