If you’re thinking about attending the Seminar in January, or if you’re a fan of either Marilynne Robinson, Allan Gurganus, or both, you’ll enjoy what’s going on over at Reading Room. It’s an online panel discussion of Robinson’s first novel, Housekeeping. Gurganus is an unabashed fan, and takes an enthusiastic and omnivorous approach to the book. His initial post suggested it may be "the greatest novel of our last quarter century." He’s compared Robinson’s artistry to silent-film star Buster Keaton, to metaphysical poet John Donne, to Emily Dickinson. And he’s permitted the Times to reprint a fan letter he wrote Robinson after his book group read Housekeeping in 2006. In part, it reads:
After much study, I don’t know how you did it. The book is so much about its making and yet all traces of construction seem obscured. “Housekeeping” seems the least autobiographical work I know and yet it’s also the one closest-in. It’s theological, but it always pertains as immediately as any fairy tale does. Harsh in its outcomes, it’s also a psychological work of such density, restraint. The limpid acceptance of death finds reflection in all its aqueous properties. There are few living males in it and little dry land. Somehow it starts with death and moves toward life, a reversal of most books I know.