The Family

The Family

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Middle-earth and Mississippi

Many days these past few months have been spent in Middle-earth.

For those unfamiliar with Tolkien-ese, Middle-earth is the land of orcs, hobbits, dwarves, elves and wizards.

We read "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy first, and at times, I thought it was never going to end. Not knowing much about Tolkien's works, I had no idea we should have begun with "The Hobbit."

I'm actually glad we didn't. It has turned out to be my favorite of the four books. I think I identify well with the hobbits. They are always thinking about when their next meal will come, even while they are busy eating their current one. They get into a bad temper if they go hungry for too long. And, they love bread, coffee, tea and breakfast in general.

Jack has gotten into "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" Legos since we began the books. We follow up the end of each book with the movie. He is fascinated by what I consider to be the scarier creatures: the orcs, wargs and goblins.

In my spare time, and by that I mean when I should have been sleeping, I recently read Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury." I go back and forth between thinking it is a work of genius and something uncomfortably disturbing. Sometimes those two things go hand in hand.

It was first published in 1929 and includes language that was common in the south in those days, but is no longer something one would hear in civilized conversation anymore.

It centers around the Compson family, of Mississippi, and deals with suicide, incest, prostitution and just an altogether unhappy lot. It is divided into four perspectives, and for most of the first two sections, the reader is not completely sure what is going on. Luckily, I checked out a 1956 copy of the book from our university library and there were a lot of side notes scribbled throughout those sections.

Even though the unhappiness of the family is obvious, it didn't leave me with the same sense of despair I have when I read Hemingway. Both authors can be dark and deal with moral dilemmas in unsettling ways, but for some reason, Hemingway leaves me feeling unhappy for days whereas Faulkner, at least in this text, just left me wondering why he didn't focus more on the sister's perspective to go along with her three brothers from the other sections.

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