Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Fury of The Sound and the Fury

Never have I ever… had to read a book that required such intense concentration. The Sound & The Fury has reminded me how quickly I read usually, because it is making me be so slow, even when I know I will have to read it at least twice to make solid sense of it in my mind. I am ever so slowly ploughing through it though. I had my courses for next semester confirmed the other day, so at least I know now that I am definitely taking the American Fiction module and am not just wasting my time on the reading.

So, the book: it is dominated by the theme of time. In the first section of the book, what makes it so frustrating to read is the fact that it is written from the point of view of a retarded man, who has no concept of time whatsoever. So there are these constant leaps from the present day, to any number of days in history. And the leaps aren’t easily distinguishable, like in a lot of more contemporary books that attempt to tell a story across generations for example – the leaps just happen, like this, in the middle of a sentence. To top it all off, the retarded-factor also plays a big role in making it difficult to read. The second section of the book is where I am up to now, and the sense of time is distorted here because of the (different) narrator’s obsession with his sister. What interests me a lot is the changing shape of the narrator – I’ve looked a little at unreliable narrators before but not at ones that completely change to a different person. But I suppose this is the point of an English degree, to start reading things that you wouldn’t otherwise be reading – it’s not supposed to be a course made up of books I would usually read and enjoy… Anyway, I know that the book is a ‘classic’ and I think that it will be a worthwhile read by the time I finish it, but it’s just a bit of a hard slog for the summer holidays!

More about books: It’s so frustrating, and downright wrong as far as I am concerned, but most of my childhood books have gone to charity shops over the years. Although, as I got older, I held onto many of my books myself (that explains the Judy Blume on my bookshelves), there is one book that I absolutely must find before I have my own children. Dick Bruna, The Sailor (ISBN: 0416930204 Published 1966 by Methuen Young Books, or ISBN: 0415301711 Published 1979 by Price Stern Sloan), was The Book; the absolute favourite bedtime read that I used to demand to have read to me, and that my brothers can even now remember a lot of by heart (although they did, as brothers do, alter some of the words a little…)

My hunt for The Sailor has gone on for years, I always check that it’s not in second hand bookshops or on ebay or Amazon, but it’s more of a half hearted search method: for about a day, I am really geared up and full of commitment to the search, but then I check the usual places and can’t find it, and give up again, resolving to eventually find it somewhere. I wonder what it will be like, to finally have it again. Something like when I got the video of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe after all those Sunday afternoons of watching it in the late 80s? That was a shared nostalgia with an entire generation of children, but I think The Sailor is something special that I share with my family. It can’t have been a widely recognised favourite, or it would still be in print – especially seeing as Dick Bruna is a phenomenally successful children’s author. I wonder if it will be a let down or not. And I wonder if it will be an expensive mission, or has somebody else just cast aside this book that I so miss? Maybe it will turn up one day; there is a lot of attic space in my old house that remains to this day full of things to be sorted… And I wonder if I will find it myself or if I will share this piece of information with someone who will one day find it for me, just to make me happy.

So far, I’ve written mostly about books. That wasn’t my plan! The more interesting stuff starts… tomorrow.

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