The Big Read Blog (Archive)


May 1, 2009
Washington, DC

Congratulations to Big Read author Marilynne Robinson who was awarded a 2008 L.A. Times Book Prize  for fiction last week. Robinson, whose novel Housekeeping is part of The Big Read library, won for her most recent novel Home. Reporting on Robinson?s interview with Susan Straight at last week?s LA Times Festival of Books, Jacket Copy blogger John Fox described Robinson as ?calm and dignified: a persona that matched her prose.?

I eagerly devoured the first chapter of Home when it appeared in The New Yorker, and I bought the hardback a day or two after it was first released. Yet I confess -- though maybe I shouldn?t -- that the novel remains unread. For me, the near-Biblical cadences of Robinson?s prose and the rhythmic unspooling of her characters interiors demand a heightened quality of attention, sort of like the way you listen intensely to the weighted silence upon entering a church. Robinson?s texts deserves more than a few minutes stolen on the morning commute or in- between weekend errands. I keep waiting for a day that is mine, totally mine, where I need only rise from my bed occasionally for coffee and a snack or two, the rest of the time to sit with the novel?s comforting heft on my lap, making my way into the novel like a meditation. I want all or nothing, to be able to spend all day lost in the novel, or to keep putting it aside until I stumble across the day on which it will be possible.

John Fox ends his blog post about the Robinson-Straight interview with a few sentences that speak to the sense that reading Robinson can be akin to a spiritual pilgrimage. ?After questions from the audience, just before the session ended, Straight offhandedly mentioned: ?'I listened to an interview where you said writing is like prayer.' Robinson nodded politely, and as the audience exited, those words -- a kind of benediction -- accompanied us.?

(See the entire Jacket Copy post.)