April Comes Quickly

I don’t know where March went. I’ve looked under calendars and in date books and I still can’t figure it out. The month went by so fast! Here are the books finished for March:

  • Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
  • The Assistant by Bernard Malamud
  • Family Man by Jayne Krentz
  • Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (AB)
  • The Brontes by Juliet Barker (DNF)
  • Means of Ascent by Robert Caro (DNF)
  • Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan (Fun)
  • In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (would have been an Early Review book a long time ago)

On tap for April (besides a little Noodle 5k run):

  • A Considerable Town by MFK Fisher ~ in honor of April being the best time to visit France
  • The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman ~ for fun
  • Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi ~ in honor of gardening month
  • Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot ~ in honor of April Fools
  • Don’t Eat This Book by Morgan Spurlock ~ in honor of April being Food Month (AB)
  • The Grand Tour by Tim Moore ~ in honor of Harvey Ball passing in April


Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. Read by Tim Jerome. New York: Macmillan Audio, 2005.

Reason read: Maine became a state in March. This is a real stretch because Gilead doesn’t take place in Maine, it isn’t about Maine in any way, even the author isn’t even from Maine. The only real connection is that the protagonist’s grandfather was born in Maine and he’s been dead for decades by the start of the book.

This is another one of those books where I feel like I am reading the wrong book. On the back cover of Gilead is praise for another Robinson book, Housekeeping.

The first thing you need to know about Gilead is that it is an epistolary novel. Reverend John Ames has lived in Gilead, Iowa for almost his entire life and is now dying. Via a letter to his young son he reminisces about his early childhood (Kansas born in 1880), his family, and his relationship with religious scripture. He calls this reminiscing his son’s “begat story” because he tells a great many stories of his own father and grandfather. And yet, as 77 year old men are bound to do, Ames wanders in his narrative. He remembers past illnesses, wars and woes and seems to be fixated on the Boughton family, especially “young” Jack.
One regret is that Robinson never reveals Ames’s son receiving or reading the letter. That would have been an interesting epilogue.

Lines I lingered over, “I believe I’ll make an experiment with candor here” (p 6), “My grandfather told her once that if you couldn’t read with cold feet there wouldn’t be a literate soul in the state of Maine (p 17), and “It is hard to make people care about old things” (p 113).

Author fact: Marilynne Robinson won a Pulitzer and a National Book Critics Circle Award for Gilead.

Book trivia: Some say Gilead is book one in a trilogy. However, Robinson’s next book, Home does not continue the story of the Ames family.

Audio book trivia: Tim Jerome’s reading of Gilead is great. I couldn’t tell you why I think this, but he has the perfect voice for it.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “The Maine Chance” (p 135). As I said before, from what I can tell the only connection to Maine is that John Ames’s grandfather was born in Maine.

March Musings

What can I say about March? Personally, it’s the St. Patrick’s Day 10k road race. I’ve been injured so it’s hard to anticipate how well I will or won’t do. I went for my first outdoor run this weekend and ran 7.5 with a steady sub-10 pace. That felt strong! Happy girl! And speaking of strong, here’s what’s on deck for the books:

  1. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs – in honor of Jack Kerouac’s birth month. Jack and William were friends…
  2. Family Man by Jayne Ann Krentz – in honor of Krentz’s birth month
  3. The Brontes by Juliet Barker – in honor of March being literature month (over 1,000 pages!)
  4. Means of Ascent by Robert Caro – to continue the series started in honor of Presidents Day being in February (EB)
  5. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – in honor of Maine becoming a state in March
  6. The Assistant by Bernard Malamud – Malamud died in March.
  7. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie – in honor of the Academy Awards being in February and March (HOAYS was made into a movie)

For Fun:

  1. Confessional: still reading Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan

For LibraryThing:

  1. I am supposed to receive Why the Grateful Dead Matter by Michael Benson as a January Early Review book sometime in the month of March…As an aside, there are a few other books I haven’t received and feel bad that I never read or reviewed them. I am sure they have all been published by now and so (I can’t believe I’m saying this) I’m going to see if a library has them. If they do, I will read and review as if I got them as Early Reviews from LibraryThing. The first non-early review I am going to tackle is a book I was supposed to received in 2009 – Sanctuary of Outcasts, a memoir by Neil White.