Faulkner, Hemingway, et al.


I always feel a little defensive and a little self-conscious when I'm reading books such as the ones I've posted about here recently. It may seem like I'm trying to show off. It may seem a little snooty or high-falutin'. I recognize that it may seem a little elitist.

That's why I thought it might be good to explore my motives in reading these books. My motives are really very, very simple. I'm enjoying it. . . a lot. The only good reason for reading any book that doesn't directly contribute to either spiritual advancement or betterment in some aspect of life-functioning is that you enjoy the reading.

I enjoy the challenge of reading Faulkner and I enjoy the ample rewards such reading bestows on the reader. There is something about encountering writers one was once forced to read for "edification" on one's own terms. Now I can read Faulkner without a bunch of people trying to judge how well I am reading Faulkner. I've already admitted that I am neither the best nor most profound interpreter of texts. I am not a super-skilled reader--I can only offer the meager embellishments I do here. But to paraphrase something I read last night on Sam's dance teacher's t-shirt, "When I read, I do not try to read better than anyone else, I only try to read better than myself." So the challenges--there are many types--sheer linguistic thickness (Faulkner), a stark and bald simplicity that may or may not contain hidden depths (Faulkner). characters whose vacuity and the emptiness of whose lives absolutely beggars the imagination (Fitzgerald), and so forth.

So, I will continue to read these along with other works interspersed. For now, I'm content with Faulkner. I may round that out by watching a series of Tennessee Williams plays and adding a dollop of Flannery O'Connor or the truly bizarre Carson McCullers, savoring for the moment the warmth of the tropics in the midst of the winter of my discontent.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 22, 2008 9:14 PM.

Faulkner Gives Gore a Helping Hand was the previous entry in this blog.

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