Monday, September 16, 2013


Marilynne Robinson Interviewed by VICE, Talks About Vice, Is Viceless

This is a brave new media world we live in. Sometimes there are questionable pictures of it, or articles that struggle-use "struggle bus," and the whole scene starts to get you down until you remember that VICE is running a Marilynne Robinson interview, and despite all this newness, all once more is chill. Interviewed by her former student Thessaly La Force, Robinson exudes her typical resolute, cathedral-in-the-soul clarity:

You will remember that once, in some time, in some place, you saw a person standing alone, and their posture suggested to you an enormous narrative around them. And you never spoke to them, you don’t know them, you were never within ten feet of them... There’s a very pleasant consequence of that, which is the most ordinary experience can be the most valuable experience.

Also, yes:

I think that’s why a lot of stuff that basically amounts to breaking china is seen as being creative when, in fact, it’s as subservient to prevailing norms as anything else is, as obedience to them would be.

And yes:

I don’t like the novel-of-manners thing. If it doesn’t open on something larger, I get claustrophobic almost immediately.

Here, a good phrase for the next night that all your friends and would-be lovers are out raging but you can't stand the idea of speaking a single word:

I remember once reading speculations about why creatures sleep. The one that impressed me was some scientist saying, “It keeps the organism out of trouble.” So every once in a while I sit on the couch thinking, I’m keeping my organism out of trouble.

I'll leave you with the fact that Robinson defines vice as such: "I have no idea. Underachievement, I suppose. The idea being that you have a good thing to give and you deny it."


Photo via picale/flickr

9 Comments / Post A Comment


So I know that was kind of a snarky aside, but oh my god ht Bustle piece. So his business model is to hire young inexperienced people, drain them dry and spit them out? that's SO original aka most people I have worked for.

de Pizan

@iceberg Ugh, this guy. “A guy who’s successful, busy, cool, and popular—people would say he’s a real hustler,” he told me. “A woman who’s successful, busy, living in a city—maybe she’s a bustler!” Because we need more gender-dividing terms. Also bustler already exists, and is a "person who moves briskly and often ostentatiously"...so not exactly complimentary.


One of my favorite books in the world is Gilead. Robinson's writing is so good, so complex and yet crystalline clear at the same time. It makes me simultaneously despair of writing anything half as good, and inspires me to try...at least it'll keep my organism out of trouble, right?


@Bittersweet me too re: gilead


I don't know if I have ever read anything as rapturously as I read both Housekeeping and Gilead, I started both of them over from the beginning almost the minute I finished.

Anne Helen Petersen

HOME isn't as finely wrought as GILEAD, but it's shamefully underread and a beautiful continuation of the Gilead story.

Also Robinson is one of the few writers I know who makes me proud to have grown up Presbyterian.

Anne Helen Petersen

Also also Housekeeping is set in the town three hours from my hometown, and that lake is just as eerie as it is in the book.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

And now for a completely useless comment:

Should I change my screen name to Thessaly La Force y/n

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