Housekeeping, a novel
--Not a book about a woman sweeping her kitchen floor. It is one of the most haunting, amazing, astonishing novels I have ever read. Yet, oddly, I resisted reading it for years because I was put off by the title.
So, don’t you get put off by it. It’s not what you think.
This novel has everything to do with blurring the boundary that divides our sense of outside and inside, exterior and interior, home and homelessness. It bends the boundaries of normalcy in terms of how we define home and what evokes our feelings of home. I don’t want to say more than this because if you haven’t read this book, you must.
One more thing. As many of you already know, this book came out in the 1980s.What you don’t know is that I was a graduate student at Brown University, in the creative writing department. While I was there, one of our graduates came back to give a reading from her debut novel.
Marilynne Robinson. Her novel was called, Housekeeping, and it was rocking the literary world (but I couldn't get past my resistance to the title).
At the reception, I remember how shy Marilynne was. She stood at the edge of the crowds, politely nodding when people went up to her to congratulate her on her success. She seemed exceedingly introverted, her head and body almost an afterthought, meaning she didn’t reveal much in her facial expressions or body movements.
I am a fast reader and often I’ll read in chunks of paragraphs or half pages, but this book demanded that I read it sentence by sentence. Robinson’s words conjured up ghosts that hovered over the pages. I swear to God I felt strange, intangible spirits rising out of this book.
Let me know if you experienced these eerie sensations, too.