But this week I stopped reading two books. I was bored and just didn’t want to struggle through these books that were no longer interesting. I had already given them a good trial. I was about half way into both books (11 hours of audio between the two of them).
I picked up When I Was a Child I Read Books at the same time I picked up Gilead. I started When I Was a Child first. And pretty quickly switched to Gilead. I loved Gilead. It is a wonderful novel written a lot like a memoir. It is honest and real and a bit sad but still hopeful for the idea that a pastor can still make a difference in the world.
But When I Was a Child was different. It has long essays. I have this on audiobook and the first three essays are all around an hour. It is not that Robinson is not a good writer. She is a great writer. But I kept listening and feeling like I had been jerked all over the place.
For instance one of the essays deals with austerity. So we get a long discourse on capitalism and ideology and the Soviet Union and fear. But it wraps around and around and around and in the end (I guess like a good essayist) we come back to investigating our own issues.
This is similar to a discussion of freedom of thought at the beginning which oddly also discusses capitalism, ideology, the Soviet Union and fear.
I kept thinking as the start of the essays that just because someone is a good writer, does not mean they are qualified to discuss global political issues or economics. And by the time the essay was done I kept thinking well she does know what she is talking about. But why did it have to take so long.
Maybe I would feel differently if I had read the essays instead of listened to them. But I gave up.
I did see through a blog post by Tim Challies that John Piper reviewed When I Was a Child (I think I picked up the book primarily for the title. It is a great title.) Piper liked the book, but suggests that she writes like John Owen, “her sentences sound like translations of good Latin.”
Try reading Piper’s review and maybe you will have the patience that I lacked.
- Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson (bookwi.se)