Whether struck by wonder or the inexplicable, there is always the question why, and how.
Some may be more or less inclined to bother with neither the why nor the how; some may submit to the incomprehensible, the fear, the massive weight upon one’s shoulders, not knowing how, or when it might be lifted, to leave you free from it.
Marilynne Robinson does not shy away from neither the why, nor the how; she takes on the most difficult questions wo/men face, regardless of whether they are aware of it, or not.
What are we? Why are we here? What is here? Who is responsible for the mess we have created? Did we create it?
Generally, I tend to leave such questions be; I am the one to shy away from engaging in debates on matters regarding the Genesis creation narrative or the Almighty. And, regardless of the fact that I have developed nothing less than some deep infatuation, or rather obsession, with Marilynne Robinson’s exceptional writing – that may touch on these matters, in some way or the other – I care not to engage in conversations regarding the unknown I know nothing about.
Nevertheless. I am astonished by Marilynne’s writing on matters that concern all of us, regardless of whether we wish to acknowledge it or not. The question of humanity. The question of faith. The question of fate.
I am especially astonished by her manner of writing, how she takes the time to listen to those whose voices might otherwise be left unheard, or forgotten. Her writing is not rushed. And it is as if every word, thought, sentence, paragraph is given careful, and due, consideration. Whatever is written, will only be kept if it in some way may contribute to some understanding, or at least be an attempt to make some sense of sense of it all, even though it most likely makes no sense; instead, it might raise more questions, and leave us in doubt.
Someone referred to Marilynne as a brilliant technician. And it is true, however, not in the sense of her being some kind of calculating machine. Rather, her writing is such that, if you actually take the time to read the text with your full attention, you will become part of the story, as it speaks to you, as it is about you, and everybody you have ever loved – or not.
When you read her characters, it is as if you sometimes can hear them weep, feel them breathe, or trying to keep still, just as you would yourself, when faced with something greater than yourself. When you are with them, you become one of them. This is true magic.
I have also come to believe that one of Marilynne’s main objectives might be to figure out the workings of family (see Home), regardless of how you chose to define it; in some ways, she seems to find that any family is no better than the sum of its parts, and that the one that loves you the most, may just as well be the one to hurt you more than any foreign enemy.
Why is that so?
Anita B Krišto © 2021