by grace of some god
Rarely do I come across literary works where the act of reading is affected by an immense fear of missing out, a fear of reading too fast, a fear of not giving the story in my lap the attention it clearly deserves. But I have come to cherish those stories that require your absolute attention to every detail, every word, no matter how miniscule, every nuance, twist and turn. In this day and age, one might wonder, is it worth it? Is it worth paying attention to stories that demand more of you than you’re used to? Well, I guess it depends on whether you welcome a challenge or not, and whether you are prepared to read something that might challenge everything you ever knew about yourself and humankind.
Reading anything by Marilynne Robinson, I have come to realize, is a mind-blowing experience. I will admit it took some time before I found the will to give it a go, and consider reading her work. Sometimes endorsements of presidents and Nobel-laureates have that effect on my will to consider spending time with a book. For what reason? Well, this is not the time to discuss the merits – or problems – related to the on-going exploitative commercialization of art, so I opt out of explaining. This is rather the time to laud the merits of Ms. Robinson’s extraordinary storytelling.
Marilynne Robinson’s work is founded on her utmost attention to the magic of humankind’s existence in this space and time. It is based on her belief in humankind, whatever its shape or form. I also feel it is inspired by humankind’s potential for forgiveness, even in most dire of times. Her writing is above all inspired by a belief in the existence of some kind of divinity. And her work is challenging because of it. Why? Because Robinson fears not asking questions some others – maybe you – dare not to even consider. She fears not the debate, and even when in doubt – which I am sure she is, at times – she is well aware that what we know, especially regarding our own and the potential existence of some god, is far less than what we do not.
Regardless of your disposition. If you are eager to learn more about humanity, and above all yourself, your beliefs, fears and hopes, I highly recommend starting out with Housekeeping (for sure a story that went beyond my wildest expectations), and then continue on with Gilead, and so on. My only advice is to read these works with great care and attention, in a quiet space, and you will be duly rewarded. Especially considering every one of her sentences read like a poem, a prayer or a dream. As I said. Mind-blowing.
For every piece of work by Marilynne Robinson that I read, I also wonder: Is she one of the greatest scholars of the brittle foundation of those united states, and of the illusion of a nation united, the nation united that seems to be falling apart, now more than ever before (if ever there was a unity)? I bet she is, and I hope many will pay attention to her work before it is too late.
Anita B Krišto © 2019