October 14, 2008


mary mccallum

Exquisite. I didn't notice the title, but after reading a single sentence I still knew where it came from. Unlike many books, Robinson's prose stays with me. Throughout Housekeeping she returns again again to images of light and dark, of windows, and water.


This is a great way to start the day. A humble request: please post other passages from time to time that you feel appropriate. It helps, inspires and brings a sense of encouragement to a simple writer like myself. Thank you, TEV.


My apologies. Obviously you are posting passages.

P.T. Smith

Thanks much for this. I read a review of her latest somewhat recentely, somewhere, and found it interesting, but not go out and get it interesting. This passage, a gorgeous passage, is getting it added to my long lists.


Beautiful passage. I agree with the others that request more once in a while.



What a delight to see anything by Robinson, but espcially something from her first novel. It is set in Sandpoint, Idaho, where I lived in another lifetime and where my grandfather was born.

The Long Bridge that goes across Lake Pend Oreille is one of those sights that features both nature and manmade works to great advantage.

This is a huge, deep and wide lake that rarely freezes over, that has depths not quite charted where submarine training took place during WWII but where kids learned to ice skate for decades, even after the ice didn't need to be harvested during winter for summer use.

Robinson's writing is so on the mark. I'm delighted her latest novel is on the National Book Award list.

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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