Here’s a beautifully crafted review of a beautifully crafted novel--a woman’s view of the importance of what we can and what we cannot know. Robinson does better than any living American writer I know in attempting to show that Christianity--particularly Calvinish Christianity--knows man as much as man can be known to himself. For those whose learning style (like mine) is more prosaic, let me recommend her THE DEATH OF ADAM, with the proviso that you should ignore her sometimes irritating political judgments. She actually succeeds to a remarkable degree in showing that the Puritans and their successors are actually the sources of our best criticisms of the Darwinians and the economists on behalf of human responsibility, human enjoyment, human happiness, equality without condescension, and humane and genuinely liberating education. (Thanks to Ralph Hancock, who gave a very nuanced, moving, and somewhat critical account of what be might called the generational politics [or lack thereof] in her GILEAD at the APSA.)
I am currently reading "Home," a wonderful Prodigal Son novel. It is a delightful read, though not perhaps quite as powerful in my mind as Gilead, which is one of my favorite modern novels. It's nice to see that a novelist takes the religion of her characters so seriously. Robinson is one of the three or so novelists whose book I will buy the day it is published. Nice with a single-malt and a cool autumn breeze coming in through the window in the silence of the deep night.
I would like to add a shameless plug to catch my Book TV appearance Saturday at noon discussing the non-fiction, "Hurricane of Independence," the book of the week here a few weeks ago.
Tony, I feel the same re. Robinson -- I pre-ordered Home, but have not finished reading it yet. But you make me curious: who are the other contemporary novelists whom I should buy as soon as they publish?
I'm not saying that the others are necessarily in total agreement with my political philosophy or world-view, but I just really enjoy Paul Auster and Graham Swift's novels. I have been meaning to read Mark Halprin too, but just haven't gotten around to reading his books yet.
Otherwise I like to stick with Melville, Virgil, Homer, Dante, Eliot, and folks like that.
Of course, how could I forget the dean of modern novelists - Tom Wolfe? I only have to wait every 10 years or so for the next book!
Do read Mark Helprin. I suggest Cormac McCarthy, too.