Robert Fischer's Reviews > Gilead

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
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's review
Apr 01, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: theology-philosophy-religion, fiction
Read from April 01 to 28, 2011 — I own a copy

I'm largely not a fan of fiction, so reviewing this book isn't particularly fair. So let me begin by saying this: the Ethics department at Duke Divinity School is ga-ga over this book and the other stuff from this author. A fair number of students int my Christian Ethics class loved this book. And the book is absolutely written in almost poetic prose which is occasionally quite beautiful, and a nice reminder that not all writers come from the Dan Brown school of writing.

But, to me (and this is my review), reading the book was like slogging through molasses. When I finished it the first time, I felt relief that I was finally free of the sticky, thick prose. The book also read self-consciously and gratuitously symbolic: I felt like the book was constantly nudging me in the ribs, winking at me, and saying knowingly, "See that? *ASH*! Y'know, like *Wednesday...? Y'know? Y'know?" A little bit of that is clever—even moving. A whole text that way is insufferable. Beyond that, the book was also overwhelmingly sentimental, which I simply don't care for and which simply fails to grab me.

But the prose and the symbolism does make the book more interesting than most personal epic period pieces, and I did appreciate the way that theology was presented: not as a series of abstract doctrines, but as a loving expression of a way that one recognizes God. Plus, I think Feuerbach gets too little love from among religious folk, who throw out the baby with the bathwater when they disdain him for his atheism, and this book brings back some of that. So that was nice.

But, all in all, just not a book for me.

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