After finishing Idaho by Emily Ruskovich, I read a few of her interviews and found that Housekeeping: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson also takes place in the Inland Northwest and that Robinson had been an important influence.
I tried reading Robinson’s Lila not long ago, but couldn’t get into it. Housekeeping, on the other hand, was immediately absorbing and recognizable. It helps that I am homesick and desperate to be in the Inland Northwest, even if just through reading. It also helps that I recently finished Ruskovich’s book and the two follow similar plot structures, themes, and tones.
Like Idaho, Housekeeping lends shatteringly brilliant insights into the human condition. In another life, I continue the path of creative writing, and get to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, not on my merits necessarily yet, but on my potential and because Robinson chooses to mentor me as a fellow Inland Northwesterner, and I join them and live in this world too. Maybe I can still find my way on my own, with their words.
Here are some lines I liked:
“When they were reunited, she hoped he would be changed, substantially changed” (10).
“…because the seahorses themselves were so arch, so antic and heraldic, and armored in the husks of insects” (12).
“She never taught them to be kind to her” (19).
“She tended us with a gentle indifference that made me feel she would have liked to have been more alone…” (109).
“It is better to have nothing” (159).
“I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation” (166).
“Now truly we were cast out to wander, and there was an end to housekeeping” (209).
On conception at the top between pages 214 and 215.
“The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise” (215).