Having finshed Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, I don't know whether to a) wish she had more fiction to spend time with, or b) be thankful that she has so carefully paced herself and only produced works of beauty. Housekeeping was published in 1980. Gilead in 2004. Home in 2008. What gifts, and what discipline to not "crank out" more along the way.
When I finished Housekeeping I knew I would re-read these books, and would buy them to re-read and share. And I am pretty sure that when I read them again, I shall do so out loud. If my Karen can stand it, or if I can find a place where neither she nor our dog, Truman, will be bothered by my croaky voice. The language is compelling, and I'd like to hear these books as well as read them.
So, the essays (The Death of Adam) came between the first 2 novels. This morning I began the last item on my Robinson Summer Reading List. It is another coffee shop book, non-fiction, published in 1989. Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution. I mean, the range of interests and subjects boggles the mind. Written as it was in the waning years of the Cold War, it is an engaging snapshot of an era. And again, it has such a balanced socio-political perspective. A rather depressing topic, to be sure, and I'm interested to see how she plays it out.
Then, I'll have to decide how to keep this kind of beauty in my reading. Thankfully, there is Wendell Berry. On vacation last week I read A World Lost, and began essays (What Are People For? 1990) Berry is a triple threat author, and it seems people know him for either his novels, or his essays, or his poetry. I have found wonder and delight in all three.