Friday, April 17, 2009
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is a work of fiction written entirely in first person. John Ames is a minister in an Iowa town, and a relatively new father in his old age, writing to his 7 year old son in the hopes of imparting a little fatherly wisdom which he knows he won't be around to give as the boy grows up. His advice comes as he watches his own friend, Boughton, another minister, slowly deteriorate in health. Boughton's wayward son returns home for a short time, and Ames must reconcile his feelings to this man, whom his friend named after him.
As the son and grandson of a minister, Ames' life seems inevitably woven with his calling, and yet he still struggles with negative feelings of anger, jealousy, and occasional self-pity. His response is to write about his feelings until he understands them, or failing that, he prays about them. Perhaps more of us could learn from such a process.
The narrative makes forays into human nature and it's grappling with religious ideas. I quite enjoyed it. Stretch the mind a little.