Marilynne Robinson on writing, metaphysics, and the Donald Trump dilemma
Marilynne Robinson is one of the greatest American novelists alive today. She’s the author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Gilead — one of my favorite books, ever — as well as Housekeeping, Home, Lila, and her latest, Jack. She’s also produced four brilliant collections of nonfiction essays.
But Robinson is not simply a beautiful writer; her work is inextricably bound up with the most important issues of our times: race, religion, education, geography, and democracy — so much so that in 2015, Barack Obama chose to interview her on the state of the country while he was still the sitting president. This was a joy of a conversation to have right now, and it covers vast amounts of ground, including:
• Robinson’s obsession with the doctrine of predestination
• What we know -- and all we don’t know -- about the nature of reality
• The power of loneliness
• How, for all the talk of polarization, there are certain ideas that Americans widely, quietly share
• How the logic of efficiency and growth has come to invade every aspect of our lives
• The differences between writing fiction and nonfiction
• How to train yourself to notice the world around you
• The sobering purpose of studying history
• What it will take to keep American democracy alive and well
• The particular problem that Donald Trump poses
• The baseline assumptions and practices a democracy demands we share
And much more. I found this conversation a tonic to have in this moment. I hope it’s the same for you.
Birdman of Alcatraz by Thomas E. Gaddis
Producer - Jeff Geld
Audio engineer - Jackson Bierfeldt
Researcher - Roge Karma
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