39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
small things half-seen,
This review is from: Gilead (Paperback)
An extraordinary book, even just in formal terms. Others have commented here on the human side of things (which I found very moving), but I'd add something about story-telling here. Like John McGahern's amazing 'That They May Face the Rising Run' (his last novel), 'Gilead' is astonishing in how the reader glimpses small scenes and fragments of the past almost subliminally, scenes which are then seen again, still from afar. It makes the reader lean in towards the story, peering closely, as if saying, 'what was that? Did I really see THAT?' So the story relies on reluctance, tact, and half-recalled things, and things of loveliness or disturbance glimpsed at the edge of life. Others have done this ('Beloved', so movingly), but Robinson is really wonderful at the fleetingness of things. I've rarely felt I've had to quietly attend to small things, as when leaning in towards this book. It's simply a marvel of technique. And most strange that she might have learned this art from the short lyric poems of George Herbert.