Hardcover Ù Jack Epub Ü

Hardcover  Ù Jack Epub Ü A wonderfully written introspective on two people who are lonely, hurt, and find one another and share their beliefs and love It's a keen look at John Ames Boughton, the son of a Presbyterian minister, and Della Miles, an African American, daughter of a preacher Taking place in Gilead, the well known place of the books that precede this one, we find a beautiful love story, one that transcends time and the unrest and discrimination of the South Jack is ever so troubled, seeing himself as less than nothing, a failure, a drunk, a draft dodger As his relationship with Della proceeds, he finds himself looking at a different Jack, one who has a poetic side, a lover of literature, a value he has never considered, a person to love Her love for him is fraught with the dangers of the time and develops slowly and beautifully.Wondrously written as all the books about Gilead are, this book is breathtaking in its view, and enables the reader to once again view the times of life and its unhappiness and joy after the war Truly a recommended read.Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this story due out September 29, 2020 Coming out of my cage noreviews for 2020 silence to say that I want this to be shot straight into my veins.Edit: I am going to leave the original review up because it still encapsulates succinctly how I feel about Robinson's writing Now, on to the actual review Jack's story was always going to be about grace and predestination If I had to encapsulate Jack it would be using a quote from Gilead: Love is holy because it is like gracethe worthiness of its object is never really what matters And yet, despite this quote, I find that Jack as a book is much closer to Housekeeping than say, Gilead or especially Home What does this mean in practice? It means that in a sense Jack as a character is mostly a tool used by Robinson to explore a theological idea But the beauty of Robinson's writing is her ability to have the story feel so human and so real, while she's essentially writing a treatise on the power of grace Jack is an atheist brought up in a Presbyterian home, raised by a Presbyterian preacher Now, the issue, of course, is that no atheist can be chosen by God for man is saved by faith alone Beyond his atheism, everything Jack does seems to be proof of his fallen nature, from his childhood proclivity to petty thievery and mischief, to the fact that as an adult, thehe tries to live a life that is devoid of harm, thehe still somehow manages to cause harm But is Jack really fallen beyond redemption? Are his atheism and destitution really a sign of future eternal damnation? I personally don't think so and something tells me Robinson doesn't think so either See, Jack is both a love story and a story about love For, Robinson seems to argue, not only is love *like* grace, but love itself might actually be one way that the grace of God manifests itself in the human realm (beyond mere faith and prosperity) So Della, the model daughter of a respected AfricanAmerican family, falls in love with Jack, a white bum, when they spend the night talking about the end of the world in a cemetery And she continues to stand by his side despite his mistakes, in conscious defiance of antimiscegenation laws and the disapproval of her own family The only explication she gives to Jack for falling in love with him despite his selfperceived worthlessness? [Because] once in a lifetime, maybe, you look at a stranger and you see a soul, a glorious presence out of place in the world And if you love God, everyone choice is made for you.By framing this as a story about predestination and grace, which it is, I still feel that I am not doing Robinson justice I wonder if by using this framing, I am undervaluing the meticulous, fantastic work that goes into building characters like Jack and Della, into building a story where religion matters not because it matters to Robinson intellectually but because (even if you are an atheist) it can shape you in ways you can't quite shake off If I had one small gripe is that this book works best when Jack is in close interaction with others His painful loneliness and defeatism can sometimes begin to feel wearisome, as he wanders the streets of St Louis alone, at night, especially when you remember that he has a family who loves him back in Iowa But it's much easier to understand Jack, to feel for him, when his sense of inadequacy chafes against other people's ability to be in this world without feeling like a burden to it, when he is around people who seem able to navigate normal human interactions without having to think too hard about them But just like with Housekeeping (which I found okay at first, but then ended up crying myself thorough the last pages when I reread it last year), this will be a book that will reward careful rereading, of the kind where you pay attention to how every sentence is constructed, to the dense intertextual references that enrich this textexplicitly here than every before in Robinson's oeuvre I think I was in this painful rush to read it all that I didn't allow myself to savor it at moments Still, what a masterpiece of how painful it is to be human Dear friend, the loneliness might kill me. Jack Boughton is the son of Gilead, Iowa’s Minister Boughton, named after John Ames, the preacher and narrator of Robinson’s Gilead This fourth in Robinson’s connected volumes is his story, revealing much about Jack, and the woman he meets, and falls in love with Della Miles – a teacher who is the daughter of an important black family in Memphis Jack is viewed by others as a goodfornothing bum, indeed, he views himself a lessthan He is a man who has been to prison, a draft dodger during WWII, and tends to enjoy the bottle too much and too often, and he often finds himself on the wrong side of the law as well as the wrong side of those who he owes money Money he can never repay and so he resorts to petty theft, but ends up either drinking it away, or losing it one way or another, no matter his intentions And when he meets Della Miles she sees another side of him Over time, she is drawn to his poetic nature, his love of literature and eventually a love develops, slowly, unevenly, and with much back and forth, over time Each knowing that in this place and time, and because of these constructs of the world their love not approved by society their love would need to be hidden from the world For those who have read, and loved, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead,Home,Lila this will be a must read, as the fourth novel in this collection For now, I am content to savor the moments I have found in reading Jack, rereading the many excerpts I have highlighted over and over again Jack is simply a lovely, beautifully shared reflection on life and love, and the salvation that is conveyed to us through love Pub Date: 29 Sep 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley It is odd, what families do to their children—Faith, Hope, Grace, Glory, the names of his good, plain sisters like an ascending scale of spiritual attainment, a veritable anthem, culminating in, as they said sometimes, the least of these, Glory, who fretted at her own childishness, the handmedown, tagalong existence of the eighth of eight children He himself, who aspired to harmlessness, was named for a man who was named for a man remembered, if he was, for antique passions and heroics involving gunfire He was afraid that Delia or Della might mention a cousin named Dahlia, and he would laugh Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead” trilogy (with “Home” and “Lila”) is one of my favourite ever series of books both for their sheer craftmanship of the writing, the maturity and insight of the discussion of the issues covered, and for its sympathetic and intelligent exploration of the depths, consolations and challenges of Christian faith.It is I think very telling that the collective reviewers of the Guardian (a paper which is somewhere between nonChristian and positively antiChristian) rated “Gilead” the second best book of the 21st Century.Therefore imagine my delight when it was announced that the author was writing a fourth book in the series – and one which forms a perfect (and obvious) compliment to the first three volumes – the story of the prodigal son who returns in “Home”, “Jack” (John Ames) Broughton, and whose difficult relationship with his father’s friend John Ames (after whom he is named, and who fears he will usurp his place as husband to Lila and father to his son) forms much of the tension at the end of “Gilead” That tension is partly dissipated in “Gilead” when Jack confesses to Ames about his black wife (Della) and their child – and the difficulty of their relationship: struggling both against racial miscegenation laws and the avowed disapproval of Della’s family, headed by a minister Della’s appearance at the end of “Home” forms the ending to that book also.This book is the story of Jack’s meeting with and burgeoning relationship Della – one which closely but not by any means completely follows Jack’s recounting to Ames (which presumably suffers both from the unreliability of memory and the selectiveness of retelling).The book is written in the third person, but very much from Jack’s point of view At the opening of the story he is only just released from prison (wrongly convicted of theft – albeit he could have been correctly convicted for countless other occasions) and living as a down and out, estranged from his family (other than for regular donations from one brother) and struggling with alcoholism, kleptomania and selfdestructive tendencies which seem to extend to anything he holds as precious: his only strategy is to aspire to “utter harmlessness” – trying to isolate himself so as to do as little damage as possible I’m a gifted thief I lie fluently, often for no reason I’m a bad but confirmed drunk I have no talent for friendship What talents I do have I make no use of I am aware instantly and almost obsessively of anything fragile, with the thought that I must and will break it This has been true of me my whole life I isolate myself as a way of limiting the harm I can do And here I am with a wife! Of whom I knowgood than you have any hint of, to whom I could do a thousand kinds of harm, never meaning to, or meaning to.” But into this mix – via a chance encounter, comes the schoolteacher Della and the two are drawn to each other Jack’s early behaviour forces a breach between them, but both retain feelings for each other and the book opens on a second chance encounter – overnight in a graveyard (where Jack is staying having sold his bed for the night) and Della is inadvertently locked in This opening conversation is covered almost word for word and covers around the first quarter of the novel and, in perhaps my only criticism, is a little too extended a set piece – I preferred the book when it reverted to perhaps aconventional pacing The book is replete with meditations on poetry, on Hamlet (the subtexts of which form a backdrop to the cemetery conversations), on hymns and on bible verses But it is also shot through with the reality of racial tensions in 1950s America: Jack encounters threats and hostility from whites; he struggles with his secret satisfaction at reading of a planned demolition/regentrification of the black area of St Louis as it fits his own tendency to destruction; contrary to Jack’s account in Gilead, Della’s father’s objections to Jack centre less around his atheism and unlike her extended family less around his disreputable character, but instead centres on a firm belief in Negro selfsufficiency and separatism.But of course like all the series, religious concepts dominate.Jack struggles with predestination; habit, impulse and temptation; penitence, regret and forgiveness; and most of all grace Jack said, “He’s forgiven me every day of my life from the day I was born Breach birth.” He wished he could smoke Where was all this candor coming from? He said, “Forgiveness scares me It seems like a kind of antidote to regret, and there are things I haven’t regretted sufficiently And never will I know that for a fact.” … The minister put his glasses on again and smiled as if he were just back from a brief absence He said, “Mr Ames, if the Lord thinks you need punishing, you can trust him to see to it He knows where to find you If he’s showing you a little grace in the meantime, he probably won’t mind if you enjoy it.” Jack said, “I’m not sure that’s what’s happening It’s not always clear to me how to tell grace from, you know, punishment Granting your terms.” If the thought of someone sweetened your life to the point of making it tolerable, even while you knew that just to be seen walking down the street with her might do her harm, which one was that? Della remainsof an enigma, and I have seen reviews that query her feelings for Jack, but her motivation – a revelation of her redemptive role, and her opportunity to show nonjudgmental kindness to the outcast, and to see and reach the inner soul behind the outward behaviour is revealed in a powerful speech “We do We know this, but just because it’s a habit to believe it, not because it is really visible to us most of the time But once in a lifetime, maybe, you look at a stranger and you see a soul, a glorious presence out of place in the world And if you love God, every choice is made for you There is no turning away You’ve seen the mystery—you’ve seen what life is about What it’s for And a soul has no earthly qualities, no history among the things of this world, no guilt or injury or failure Nothan a flame would have There is nothing to be said about it except that it is a holy human soul And it is a miracle when you recognize it.” A worthy conclusion to a wonderful series One that I will revisit on its paperback publication with a read through of all four books.My thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an ARC via NetGalley A new classic from the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Gilead and HousekeepingThe longawaited fourth and last of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novelsone of the great works of contemporary literatureWith Jack, Robinson takes her readers back to the small town of Gilead, Iowa, in , to tell the story of John Ames Boughton, the godson of John Ames and the black sheep of his family He's a neer do well and the beloved prodigal son who falls in love with and marries Della, a beautiful and brilliant AfricanAmerican teacher he meets in segregated St Louis Their fraught, beautiful romance is one of Robinson's greatest achievements Marilynne Robinson's Gilead was my novel of the year in 2015 when I came to it, and the other volumes of the trilogy, Home and Lila, rather belatedly on the publication of the last of the three, particularly notable for its reverent and sympathetic, but at the same time theologically questioning exploration of religious faith, a rare thing indeed in modern literature.The three novels were (as Rachel Sykes observes in this article )simultaneous texts than a conventional trilogy, even Lila, which, while looking back on the 'past' life of the eponymous subject, does so from the standpoint of her memories of these events in the 'present' of the trilogy (1956 in Ohio).Jack is in that sense rather distinct, in that it is written from the standpoint of a previous period (around 8 years before the trilogy) and place (St Louis in Missouri) It picks up on the character of Jack, or to give him his full name John Ames Broughton, son of the Presbyterian preacher John Broughton and named after his friend and fellow pastor, the narrator of Gilead, John Ames, and in particular the story he tells Ames at the end of that novel of his commonlaw marriage to Della Miles, a black woman, and also daughter of a preacher (who is aware of, and strongly opposed to, their relationship), and with whom he has had a son:He cleared his throat ‘We are married in the eyes of God, as they say Who does not provide a certificate, but who also does not enforce antimiscegenation laws The Deus Absconditus at His most benign Sorry.’ He smiled ‘In the eyes of God we have been man and wife for about eight years We have lived as man and wife a total of seventeen months, two weeks, and a day.’ Their relationship was illegal in Missouri, incredibly one of 16 US states whose antimiscegenation laws (reminscent of Nazi Germany and apartheidera South Africa) were overturned only by a Surpreme Court decision in 1967 That 15 of those 16 states gave Donald Trump 172 of his electoral college votes in 2016 rather tells its own story, and emphasises why this novel is so timely Interestingly in this novel we learn the opposition from Della's father to their relationship ishis own view that the 'races' (*) should be kept separate, to help the improvement of his own people (* as another recent book I've read points out Superior: The Return of Race Science race itself being a rather nonsensical concept)The story Jack tells (or rather the narrator tells) in this novel is subtly different to the account he was to give Ames 8 years later For example, in both accounts, at his and Della's first meeting she mistook him for a preacher, but in this (presumably the real) story she discovers the truth for herself, whereas in his later account he almost immediately puts her right.Gilead was told in the first person but for Home and Lila Robinson switched to a very close third person, which in Lila in particular led me to question whether I was reading Lila's thoughts or the author's The device workscredibly for Jack as the theological inspired musings are ratherappropriate “I’m a simple man who was brought up by a complicated man So I have mannerisms and so on Vocabulary People can be misled.”And while a nonbeliever although as he tells Ames in Gilead, not so much an atheist ‘It is probably truer to say I am in a state of categorical unbelief I don’t even believe God doesn’t exist, if you see what I mean his thoughts are infused with theological influence, perhapsso that he realises: If the Fall had made sinfulness pervasive and inescapable, then correction might be abrupt and arbitrary, to draw attention to itself as the assurance of an ultimate order without reference to specific wrongs, which, in a postlapsarian world, must allor less run together These are the terms in which he made sense of most bad surprises They were of little use except in retrospect, which had not arrived yet.Jack is aware he is hardly a suitable partner for Della, as he tells (another!) Minister at a Baptist church he briefly attends, in part for the food and in part for having someone to whom he can have the conversations he might, in other circumstances, have with his with his own father.“All right, I’ll tell you I’m a gifted thief I lie fluently, often for no reason I’m a bad but confirmed drunk I have no talent for friendship What talents I do have I make no use of I am aware instantly and almost obsessively of anything fragile, with the thought that I must and will break it This has been true of me my whole life I isolate myself as a way of limiting the harm I can do And here I am with a wife! Of whom I knowgood than you have any hint of, to whom I could do a thousand kinds of harm, never meaning to, or meaning to.” The minister said, “Good Lord.”The novel doesn't always give us a convincing account of how Jack came to be the rogue he is, but realistically so as he doesn't always understand himself:He had never been good at explaining things he did It was just alarming to him to consider how much sense they always made at the time, or in any case, how unavoidable they seemed He suspected he drank to give himself a way of accounting for the vast difference between any present situation and the intentions that brought him to it.Della's own side as a reverse Mrs MertonDebbie McGee quite what she sees in the drunklyingdissoluteloner Jack is rather absent from the story, although again this is consistent with the narrow thirdperson narration (and perhaps there is a fifth novel Della coming one day?), but she does suggest that she senses a purity to his soul, rather to Jack's mystification.To the extent Jack has a philosophy of life it is, as noted above, to avoid others lest he does them harm, a realisation and resolution that he came to some time before this novel is set, when he tried to find the other key woman in his past, the girl he seduced and got pregnant back in his days in Gilead (Jack fled the scene, and the child died at a young age, a story, as with his 2 years in prison, he has yet to confess to Della) Then it was that he had first realized what an exquisite thing harmlessness must be, what an absolute courtesy to things seen and unseen, to the bruised reed and the smoldering wick If he could not achieve harmlessness, his very failures would give him much to consider He would abandon all casuistry, surrender all thought of greater and lesser where transgressions were concerned, even drop the distinction between accident and intention.This is a theme he returns to repeatedly, one notable passage being (the quote from Robert Frost, one of several poets and poems that play a key role in the text, and which cement the relationship between Della and Jack, Shakespeare, particularly Hamlet, forming another key reference):He was acquainted with despair The thought made him laugh He had to admit that he found it interesting, which was a mercy, and which made it something less than despair, bad as it was I have been one acquainted with the night I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.Much of the time this was his favorite poem The second line seemed to him like very truth It was on the basis of the slight and subtle encouragements offered by despair that he had discovered a new aspiration, harmlessness, which accorded well enough with his habits if not his disposition Keeping his distance was a favor, a courtesy, to all those strangers who might, probably would, emerge somehow poorer for proximity to him.But so he had lived,or less, until he met Della.Recommended a strong 4 star read Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC. Marilynne Robinson is among a handful of my favorite contemporary novelists Based on her initial four novels, I think of Robinson as Nobel Prize worthy Jack, Robinson’s latest, is her fifth novel and the fourth of her Gilead series, in which she has created a seemingly simple but emotionally rich world with a small cast of memorable characters searching to understand themselves, each other, their lives, and their relationship to their faiths I’ve admired and appreciated Robinson for her careful and elegant prose, where every sentence and every word fill a specific purpose necessary for telling Robinson’s stories and explaining her characters Reading Jack, I missed the strong, direct first person voice of Ruth in Housekeeping Jack feels much talkier, muchverbose than Robinson’s previous novels I wonder if this represents Robinson’s imagining of Jack — a change in character — or a change in Robinson’s style? Authors, of course, adapt their styles, just as readers prefer some styles to others The St Louis of Jack is not the Fingerbone of Housekeeping, and Jack is not Housekeeping’s Ruth Where Robinson’s previous novels felt meticulously honed and sculpted, Jack feels near bloated Where theology and faith were undertones in Gilead, Home, and Lila, gently binding characters together, in Jack Robinson transforms these undertones into overbearing overtones This is true throughout Jack, but especially so in the interminable opening graveyard scene with its unlikely, strained, unconvincing dialog: at times charming and heartwarming, but nonetheless tedious.At the risk of sounding cranky and unfair to an author I esteem, I found that Robinson’s prose in Jack ranged from magnificent to tiresome, all embedded in a cliched and curiously dated story of Della Miles, a young Black high school English teacher, thoroughly grounded in her faith, her church, and her family, falling in love with ne’erdowell older white guy, who accurately describes himself as ”a confirmed, inveterate bum” And not just any older white guy Jack has his charms: he enjoys poetry; he plays piano; he’s thoughtful, especially about himself; and he’s a fine dancer While Della and perhaps Robinson see Jack as a damaged soul, I see in Robinson’s portrayal of Jack signs of a low level sociopath: his admitted need to inflict hurt, his rejection of his family paired with his willingness to rely on them for money, his thieving just because he can and because he ”never quite learned to distinguish mine from thine”, his casual destruction of public library books As Jack says, ”’I’m a gifted thief I lie frequently, often for no reason I’m a bad but confirmed drunk I have no talent for friendship What talents I do have I make no use of I am aware instantly and almost obsessively of anything fragile, with the thought that I must and will break it This has been true of me my whole life.’” As for Della, perhaps this is her at her most believable: ”’Sometimes I shut myself in my room and throw myself down on my bed and I just let it run through me All that wrath In every bone of my body Then it seems to wear itself out and I can go for a walk or something But it never goes away.’” The love of a good (Black) woman for a bad (white) man? Redemption through love, where the redeemer is the young Black woman giving up her comfortable life as she has known it for an irresponsible white man? This portrait of the saintlike Della trying to redeem Jack feels almost offensive to me As Della tells Jack, ”’I think most people feel a difference between their real lives and the lives they have in the world But they ignore their souls, or hide them, so they can keep things together, keep an ordinary life together You don’t do that In your own way, you’re kind of—pure.’”If not for my agreement with NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux that generously provided me with an ecopy ARC in exchange for a review, I would forego attaching a star rating Marilynne Robinson remains a wonderful novelist based on her initial four novels, but Jack feels like a disappointing departure 4 stars for any author other than Marilynne Robinson, but 3.5 compared to her wonderful earlier novels. The timing of publication of this book and its stunning account of interracial connection during Jim Crow couldn't befortuitous, with all the current racial upheaval Marilynne Robinson is truly a writer's writer, an inspiration and mentor to writers of renown (I know at least one personally, and his assessment means a lot he says She uses full sentences when she writes.) All that in mind, it took a while to read this rich, intense novel, No 4 in Robinson's Gilead universe Because every sentence counts We first meet Jack and Della on a lengthy nightlong stroll through a cemetery, during which they engage in the kind of soulbaring conversation that can't help but bring two people together This takes place during the early 1950's, St Louis, and the two fall in love despite their racial divide Both have fathers in the clergy, but Jack has been regarded as the black sheep of his family whereas Della is the beloved daughter of a Memphis Bishop, a highschool teacher, a proper Christian woman But she has fallen in love with Jack's soul, and as their story progresses, she forgives a lot Since this book is told from Jack's point of view, we get to know him from the inside, his weaknesses and dangers, and we tend to forgive him too and root for him.Robinson's second book in the Gilead series, Home, is Jack's story some years following this time, and I'm ashamed to admit my memory of that book is vague over 10 years later, but I will reread it it knowing this part of Jack's history. Reviewing this for Front Porch Republicstay tuned for links! I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.If you've read Marilynne Robinson [I have], you know what you're in fora prose treat [is that a thing?!]The settinga part of the Gilead series [though I believe this can stand alone] Set in St Louis, sometime after WWII John Boughton, aka Jack, is a drunk , ne'er do well, and the black sheep of his family His father is a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa Jack meets Della Miles, an AfricanAmerican high school teacher, whose father also is a preacher, in a cemeterylate at night They fall in loveand set in motion a story of racism [among other thingstheir relationship is illegal], sadness, struggle, selfdoubt, selfdestruction, loneliness, hope, grace, religious themes, andThis is a book that builds, and must be read slowlybecause, the language, the language! At first [very early on] I thought it somewhat simplistic, but then it becomes farintense One must devote time to reading and savoring the descriptions and directions that Robinson is leading us in this eloquent and thoughtful novel. Some of the descriptions slayed mebut it is the paragraphs that are truly thought provoking and concentration is necessary.Nonetheless, I offer a few brief phrases that resonated images:his age, that relaxation of the fleshfeeling the overbrearing innocence of strangers' domesticityvanished, a little arthriticallydoors of churches were open, releasing gusts of music and sociabilityand so many .Much resonated with timeliness of todayespecially the racisim But also consider: You are good as a courtesy to everyone around you {i.e., wearing a mask]And I learned several new wordse.g., narhex, cerements, and apophatic.I'm not sure my review does this book justice But do read if you are at all inclined Just be prepared to have your jaw drop at times and your brain be somwhat confounded by the complexity of this novel,

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