Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday Favorites: Marilynne Robinson

The Maxwell Podcast recently interviewed author, Marilynne Robinson. I only just discovered her work when the book club I belong to read her novel Lila, a book I was deeply impressed with. I wrote the following about it on my Goodreads review

I was moved by the story of Lila-her challenges and her fear of loving and being loved. I was humbled by her intimate reflection on difficult biblical texts which were informed by her painful experiences. She felt the Bible in a way that scholarly attention could not duplicate. Her relationship with John Ames was transforming.
I felt like the spiritual aspects of the book were powerful as Lila grappled with her past and the people she knew. Her questions could be the questions of anyone who struggles with their past. Put in context they are meaningful. John Ames' compassion, loving, and mercy toward Lila had me openly weeping in places. 
Marilynne Robinson is a deeply spiritual writer. It was fitting that Blair Hodges interviewed her on his show. She said a lot of profound and interesting things in the podcast both on spiritual topics and secular ones. Her comment about writer's block looks at the malady in a way I had never before considered.

ROBINSON: You know, I talk to my students about writer’s block, the idea that they simply come to a point where they can’t proceed, which happens to every writer. But what it really means is that you have to stop and consider that there are things that you have not yet understood, and that can be a very good thing. The ideas that you have after what feels like a drought are often very strong, very complex. This campus which I walk around on all the time is sort of dotted with places where I was not thinking about my fiction and then suddenly I think, “Oh, of course.” And then I don’t let myself get any farther until I get home and can write. [Laughing]
She also talks about wonder of living on this earth and sees it as a visionary experience.

ROBINSON: That it’s a question, not of having isolated religious visions, but of being sensitive to the fact that that character of experience is always available, waiting to be perceived, in effect. And so one of the things I think that’s striking about Calvin is he doesn’t talk about heaven very much at all, he says we can’t know anything about it. We’re given this world. This world is essentially visionary and it is a waste of what we are given to try to dwell on what we have not been given in this instance, we have not been shown or told, you know? So, I’m very aware of John Ames as seeing the sacred as implicit in the ordinary. And I think that’s truly important frankly.
I highly recommend listening to the podcast, reading the transcript, and going to the library to read Marilynne Robinson's books--especially if you want to have a trans-formative and meaningful experience reading literature.

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1 comment:

Blair Hodges said...

Hi, Tiffany, thanks for mentioning the podcast. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview with Marilynne Robinson. Her book Gilead is one of my favorites.