Year: 1980
Author: Marilynne Robinson
Length: 332 minutes / 5.53 hours

As I’m working my way through Pulitzer winners and finalists, I approached Housekeeping with skepticism. I knew nothing about this book other than its inclusion on these lists for “high literature.” Having now read it, this book completely underwhelmed me. I’m going to include this with other books of literature like One Hundred Years of Solitude or Ulysses, both of which I found extremely boring and lacking of any kind of plot that I could latch onto. At least this was short and had some occasionally flowery prose.

Even now, thinking back on what I read, I can’t pick out anything significant that happened in this book. That I’m having trouble remembering what it was about should indicate how little impact it had on me. I vaguely remember there being something about an aunt who was a drifter and the bigger metaphor of “home is where the heart is.” And, of course, extrapolating to the title, I can estimate that we must keep our hearts clean so we can live our best lives. Of course, this is all spit-balling as even the synopses I’ve read to remind me of the plot don’t help much either.

If Housekeeping left me with anything, it was a feeling. Like an ephemeral sense that the words that were used were meant as fluid poetry in narrative form. Would I recommend this book on its feeling alone? Probably not. But that’s fine. Just because a book has many accolades and lots of people like it doesn’t mean that I also have to enjoy it. Perhaps I’m more of a shallow reader for not “getting” these books of high literature, but I also know life is too short to spend time on unsatisfying books.

The essence of a deep poetic treatise on life but in an extremely boring package, I give Housekeeping 2.0 stars out of 5.

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