Sunday, December 21, 2008


A coworker loaned this to me in order to help me finish the New Classics Challenge. Considering the NEVER ENDING snow storm Seattle is currently experiencing, you'd think I'd have finished it sooner. But the truth is that Gilead is a slow moving book and it took some time to read. So despite the pajama-clad lifestyle I've been leading the last 4 days, I just finally finished it this morning.

Gilead is narrated by a 77 year old pastor in Gilead, Iowa in the 1950s. The entire book is a letter written to his 7 year old son before the old man dies from a recently diagnosed heart condition. The story meanders a bit to tell the story of his upbringing, but for me the real focus was on his love for his wife and son. You learn that his first wife died in childbirth (along with the child) and after living alone for many years he falls in love with Lilla, who is roughly 40 years his junior and they get married and have a child late in his life.

The pace is verrrrrry slow, but the writing is really beautiful. I will confess to moments of boredom, but not because it isn't a good book. It's a book full of good quotes about love and pondering the meaning and purpose of life. Knowing that he'll die soon, the way he describes his young son and their interactions is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.

So while I respected this book, I can't say that I found it particularly enjoyable. The simple but eloquent prose bore occasional resemblance to Plainsong, which is still one of my favorite books read this year (reviewed here) but I enjoyed the reading of Plainsong ten times as much as Gilead. Sorry, Gilead.

Now that I've completed The NCC, I'd like to read a book or two that might be classified by my friend Maggie as a GP. This stands for Guilty Pleasure. The problem? I'm effing snowed in! For reals! I guess I could walk somewhere to get a book, but my options are limited by 1. how lazy I am and 2. by how cold it is and 3. by the fact that the nearest bookstore is about a 4 mile round trip walk and lastly, 4. going outside would involve changing out of the pajamas I've had on all day. I'm considering walking the 1/2 mile to the nearest grocery store to see if they have any interesting trashy books in the card aisle. Although considering my grocery shopping experience yesterday, which was something akin to the Y2K panic of 1999, I'm not sure I'm up for it.


Jeane said...

My family still lives in Seattle, and my sister has been telling me about the heaps of snow there. I'm in VA now, and we have none! It's not fair.

Heather J. said...

I wasn't a fan of this book either. It was SO boring to me. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't like it! :)

Erik said...

The writing in Housekeeping is even more beautiful. Just saying. Merry Christmas!

cranky rae said...

This is a book I always see in the bookstore and feel guilty for not buying, but just looking at it always makes me feel like taking a nap.