"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Book Review: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

This book was really hard to get through. It was slow and contemplative to the edge of comatose. I stuck with it to the end because I was determined to piece together a definable plot and/or message. But alas, I got nothing out of it.

It was possibly the most boring book I have ever ready. It is written completely in the first person and the narrator drones on and on reminiscing over his boring life for over 300 pages. It was unbearable. I was initially drawn to it because it is Pulitzer Prize winner. However, I am also looking for entertainment and a compelling plot. This book contains neither.

While the author has a talent for making simple words seem lyrical, this so-called “letter” could have been half as long and therefore half as boring. I didn’t identify with the setting, the over-the-hill preacher, or any of the tiny little everyday details of his life – past or present. Is this really how he wants his son to see him?

When asked for advise on writing from a group of fledgling you authors, Kurt Vonnegut once said, “If it doesn’t advance the plot or build character development . . . throw it out.”

Gilead is written in a manner that is the opposite of Vonnegut’s advice.

Interesting characters? Zero
Interesting plot? Zero
Ideas? Zero
Wit? Less than zero
Humor? Not a speck

Don’t read this unless you want to fall asleep or spend 10 minutes on a well-written but confusing sentence

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