Wesley Hill on Robinson’s “Home”

Wesley Hill on Robinson’s “Home” August 12, 2013

here; and definitely spoilerous for the overall mood of the book’s ending:

Imagine that someone failed and disgraced came back to his family, and they grieved with him, and took his sadness upon themselves, and sat down together to ponder the mysteries of human life. This is… human and beautiful, I propose, even if it yields no dulling of pain, no patching of injuries. Perhaps it is the calling of some families to console, because intractable grief is visited upon them. And perhaps measures of the success of families that exclude this work from consideration, or even see it as a failure, are very foolish and misleading.

So writes Marilynne Robinson in an essay titled “Family” from her collection The Death of Adam. Such a passage invites reflection on the aims and expected outcomes of familial loyalty. What counts as love if every motion toward it ends without the hoped-for result? How do we determine the success of our attempts to love? Robinson’s latest novel, Home, is an extended engagement of these questions.

more–I wouldn’t parallel Glory and her father as tightly as Wesley does here, although that’s probably just the inevitable result of trying to compress a novel’s worth of impressions into a review’s worth of words. Man, this book, I swear.

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