I’ve held off reading Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping for a long while, mostly because I wanted to save the pleasure. I picked up Gilead after my mum’s boss had a book clean out, and fell head over heels from the first lines:
I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old. And you put your hand in my hand and you said, You aren’t very old, as if that settled it.
Now that I’ve read Housekeeping too, I’m greedily devouring interviews and, bloggy holiday or no, just had to share the following quote from The Paris Review’s ‘The Art of Fiction No. 198′. It is in response to the question, ‘Is this frame of religion something we’ve lost?’
There was a time when people felt as if structure in most forms were a constraint and they attacked it, which in a culture is like an autoimmune problem: the organism is not allowing itself the conditions of its own existence. We’re cultural creatures and meaning doesn’t simply generate itself out of thin air; it’s sustained by a cultural framework. It’s like deciding how much more interesting it would be if you had no skeleton: you could just slide under the door.