Ok, it took me all summer, but I got through this thing. I won't spoil it for other readers by stating specifically what I liked and didn't like about...moreOk, it took me all summer, but I got through this thing. I won't spoil it for other readers by stating specifically what I liked and didn't like about the book.
All I can say is that King created an absolutely incredible new world for my imagination to explore. The characters, settings, and moods were perfect, and though slightly predictable at times, the book held me riveted.
Being a long-time fan of the Police and Sting's solo stuff, my initial enthusiasm for this memoir was obviously biased.
However, as any fan of Sting's...moreBeing a long-time fan of the Police and Sting's solo stuff, my initial enthusiasm for this memoir was obviously biased.
However, as any fan of Sting's songwriting will observe, his best songs have a magnificent poetry to them that move the listener deeply--and provide an addictive rhythmic cadence that only a true master can provide. Much of Sting's prose enchanted me this same way. After reading his book, I am more convinced than ever that he is a self-made genius, a man who from the power of his own creative ambition, was able to rise from the squalid ship yard beginnings of his childhood to rock icon.
One of my favorite Sting albums is "Soul Cages." It was not accepted well by the critics because it was too "dark" and was too reflective of Sting's emotions rather than the those of his fans. In other words, the critics couldn't relate to it. To make a long story short (the album isn't even mentioned in the book), "Broken Music" took me into the very heart and pathos of Sting's childhood, where I gleaned a much better understanding of his inspiration for Soul Cages. The album is written in honor of his late father (Ernie). Most of the book's setting is centered on Wallsend, England where Sting would watch the workmen go down to the shipyards everyday, and he wondered if that too, would be his fate.
Several passages in the book made me sit back and say "Wow." I love how he describes his mother (Audrey): "She also taught me how to iron a shirt, fry an egg, vacuum the floor, all in the spirit of ritual and good order, but it was music and fires that retained an air of secret and arcane knowledge, which bound me to her like a sorcerer's apprentice. My mother was the first mistress of my imagination." (p19 hardback)
If you read the book, he has some really interesting things to say about the Sacrament of Confession (pp36-37 hb) and love (pp122-3 hb) as well.
Great book! If you're a fan of his (it's ok to admit you really do like him Sting haters), pick it up. It's a really "goodread."(less)
“And so as soon as I knew I couldn’t see it, I began to wonder what time it was.” Quentin Compson, The Sound and the Fury
Having read one Faulkner book...more“And so as soon as I knew I couldn’t see it, I began to wonder what time it was.” Quentin Compson, The Sound and the Fury
Having read one Faulkner book already—Light in August— I thought I knew what I was in for. About twenty pages into this one though, I was completely lost, and knew I would be in for a challenging read. It took me a while, but I realized that I just needed to allow the words to do their work. Perhaps it was a leap of faith in Faulkner’s artistry.
To anyone reading this: If you’ve ever read one of Faulkner’s books (and enjoyed it), you know that a simple snapshot review of his writing is not an option. It would be both an insult to his genius and a lost opportunity to delve into the intuitive pleasures of reading and interpretation. To those who are Faulkner virgins, I say tread with caution, and do not lose faith, for you will eventually stumble onto treasure.
So what logical, thoughtful, comments can be said about this great Faulkner book, The Sound and the Fury?
For marketplace purposes it is not exactly a “summer read.” In true Faulkner fashion, readers are immediately whisked off their feet with unknown narrators, fragmented sentences, fragmented time, narratives with awkward dialects, and a general mood of misery, crying, pain, neglect, and confusion.
I literally trudged through three sections of the book (almost 330 pages) of said chaos before Faulkner switches to a third-person omniscient narrator, who provides some much needed stabilization to the story. But the wait is worth it. The pages leading up to the fourth and final section are a grand train wreck of imaginative language that only Faulkner could conceive. I rode his words patiently and weathered their storm, while themes and the offspring of their possibilities coaxed my mind through wretched images of incest, murder, betrayal, brutality, suffering, and revenge.
Through all these themes and their sub-themes the clock ticked. And Faulkner does not keep the march of time a secret. One can hardly turn a page in the novel without some reference to time: “The watch ticked on…There was a clock, high up in the sun…The place was full of ticking…Father said clocks slay time…
And in fact, time’s presence becomes so prevalent, that by the end of the book it practically becomes another character: “On the wall above a cupboard, invisible save at night, by lamplight and even then evincing an enigmatic profundity because it had but one hand, a cabinet clock ticked, then with a preliminary sound as if it had cleared its throat, struck five times” (341).
So why this theme of time in The Sound and the Fury? Is it that the miseries of its people are so held hostage by it? The book is basically 425 pages of nightmare imagery and suffering with no sign of hope. Would it not be human nature to wonder when it would end? Was Faulkner trying to create an emotional reflection of this tragic Mississippi household through the mind’s eye of the reader? I am convinced this to be true. Why else would he devote the first 90 pages to a mentally retarded narrator (Benjamin) who can’t even feed himself? Why else would he commit the next 80 pages or so to a reasonably intelligent but obviously insane narrator who is about to kill himself (Quentin). And why would he devote a third section, to the “sanest” member of the family (Jason) and make him almost as incomprehensible as the previous two?
Thankfully, we have the final section and an opportunity to see the household through the frankness and honesty of a black servant woman’s eyes (Dilsey). Though ironically, Faulkner does not grant her narrator status. Rather, as mentioned earlier, Dilsey’s voice is heard through an omniscient narrator. The reasoning behind this is the stuff of research papers and the like, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
It is in Dilsey’s section that the story finally comes together. All the battered fragments of the story cohere into a bruised understanding of what has transpired, though I was still lost in many of the details. Here, some of the horrid beauty of Faulkner’s language emerges. In one scene, the narrator allows what would be considered an archetypal “window image” of beauty (In Romantic literature, for example) and transforms it into ugliness: “The window was open. A pear tree grew there, close against the house. It was in bloom and the branches scraped against the house and the myriad air, driving in the window, brought into the room the forlorn scent of the blossoms” (352).
But perhaps my favorite line, involves the wailing of the idiot son Benjamin, and to me, represents the “Sound and the Fury” of this tragic family: “Then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets” (359). This contradictory statement sums up the complexity, and evasiveness of the entire novel. Who better to symbolize the unseen ticking of the clock and the gradual deterioration of a family than the moaning of an idiot, who is simultaneously given the credit and dismissed all in the same sentence? Benjamin’s sounds lead to other “furies” as well, but I’ll not spoil it all for you.
As I have ended so many of my reviews in the past, I would recommend reading this book more than once. It is simply way to complex to take in with one read. While I admit I was tempted more than once to quit reading it, my persistence paid off, and I really ended up enjoying it. Besides, it made me look smart a couple of times reading Faulkner in public.
Seriously though, Grove has it right—no Southern author nails the plight of the post-Civil War South with more ferocity than Faulkner. It’s as if the very air the characters breath has become tainted by the past.
So if you feel like losing yourself in words that will horrify and confuse you, if you consider reading more than just a sally on the beach, then buckle your seatbelts and pick up The Sound and the Fury.
East of Eden is what I would call a "best friend" book. Get used to hearing that phrase from me, because I use it a lot when describing literature. Yo...moreEast of Eden is what I would call a "best friend" book. Get used to hearing that phrase from me, because I use it a lot when describing literature. You know a book is really good when you can't wait to get home to it after a long day. Call it a diversion from reality (a sin I openly confess), but at least I take something beautiful from it in the process. I grow with it. East of Eden was that way with me.
Like many of Steinbeck's books, he uses the basic story outline from another tale to frame his novel. For example, he uses the legend of King Arthur for Tortilla Flat. In East of Eden, Steinbeck uses the story of Cane and Abel (Genesis, Old Testament)as his framework. But he does it with such subtleness and grace, that when the reflection becomes clear, you just get goosebumps.
East of Eden made me question the origins and motivations behind good and evil. It also suggested that they are not mutually exclusive--some good can come from acts of evil and vice versa. I cannot do his story justice in this confined box. You'll just have to read it for yourself.
The characters and imagery are remarkable and will stay with you. It is sort of long (600 pages), but the reading is swift and very decipherable. It's a good winter read! (less)