I’m convinced of Robinson’s talent now, and appear to be reading her oeuvre in reverse order. Amazing to pick up threads of the narrative of Lila lain down in this book published 6 years prior. Home deals with the homecoming (to Gilead, natch) of two middle-aged children, Glory to come take care of her ailing and aged father, Jack to find refuge from his life/despair/drinking. Robinson’s chapterless tales undulate in sections, beckoning you onward with soft words, soothing. Their father is the Reverend Boughton, nearly incapacitated by age but utterly delighted to see Jack again after an absence of 20 years. Glory’s struggles to ease her father’s pains are largely unsung, the daily drumbeat of care she provides not of heroic quality but necessary. Her pain stems from having found herself in this situation, in her late 30s, unmarried with no prospects, back in her hometown in Iowa, having broken things off finally with a married scoundrel who led her on for years and borrowed a large sum of money from her. Jack slips away from the family under a cloud of scandal (knocking up a young girl, fleeing town), never heard from again until his sudden return, not even descending upon the town for his mother’s funeral 10 years prior, for which his father sent traveling money that Jack spent on a suit after he got out of prison. He shows up after a few weeks delay, hungover, desperately polite to his sister Glory. The two hit it off and achieve whatever closeness is possible between them, but Jack still struggles to soothe his father’s grief over him. His interest in the burgeoning Civil Rights movement is further explained when Della, Jack’s wife, shows up with son in tow a few days after Jack leaves Gilead. Della and son can’t linger long, they have to head back to Missouri where black people were allowed a place to sleep.
Great words uncovered within: deracinated, puissance, louche.