Friday, January 16, 2009

Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is the author of Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home.

From her Paris Review interview, conducted by Sarah Fay:

Is it true that Housekeeping started as a series of metaphors you wrote while you were getting your Ph.D. in English literature?

When I went to college, I majored in American literature, which was unusual then. But it meant that I was broadly exposed to nineteenth-century American literature. I became interested in the way that American writers used metaphoric language, starting with Emerson. When I entered the Ph.D. program, I started writing these metaphors down just to get the feeling of writing in that voice. After I finished my dissertation, I read through the stack of metaphors and they cohered in a way that I hadn’t expected. I could see that I had created something that implied much more. So I started writing Housekeeping, and the characters became important for me. I told a friend of mine, a writer named John Clayton, that I had been working on this thing, and he asked to see it. The next thing I knew, I got a letter from his agent saying that she would be happy to represent it.

Were you surprised?

I was, but these things always came with little caveats....[read on]
Read the complete interview.

--Marshal Zeringue