Friday, May 20, 2011


Hello! Everyone enjoying their summers? Georgia has had some pretty freaky weather recently. You know how those glorious storms always bring in cold fronts? Yeah, in Georgia that usually means something like 80 degree weather as opposed to 90. But this past week, in mid May, we had a cold front that was 60 degrees.


For a cold-blooded gal like me, it was frigid. Especially with the air-conditioning still set to go on in the house. And of course, you know me, when it was raining I just *had* to go stand in it for a bit and drink it in. So, soaked. Air-conditioning. 60 degree weather.


Anyway. I'm still working on Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I've taken a hiatus from Adams' peculiarosity to reread one of my absolute favorites as I've been promising myself I would for years. I'm still pretty fried from the end of the semester in every artistic way, so I'm trying to recall some of my muse and strength by re-delving into the series of books that, when I first discovered them, I literally read to pieces. Not even kidding-- they were my older sister's books, too, and I was mortified when the binding and pages fell apart in my hands because of how much I'd read them.

Yes, friends, it is "The Lord of the Rings" that I am currently pouring through. Now, I've heard lots of arguments and sighs against the books. Some say that Tolkien's writing style is terrible to nonexistent, that his works are unoriginal, that his structure is archaic or illegible...yeah yeah yeah. Well here's what I have to say about *that*!!

Tolkien's writing style is just fine. If you've ever read books from that time period by *any* author, they will all sound much the same. That's just the way people wrote back then, and it's difficult to get through on occasion. Ever read any C. S. Lewis or H. G. Wells? Wells, especially, is a headache to get through sometimes. But it's brilliant and vivid!! Every word is like a drop of blue ink on a pure white page, bleeding and spiraling out as water is dripped on it. You have to really be in an early 20th century mood to read them; you'd have to be in a different mood to read "Great Expectations" or "The Count of Monte Cristo" in exactly the same way. Both, by the way, are intriguing books. I'd suggest "Count" over GE any day, but have you ever seen the unabridged version of "Count"? It's about as thick as the length of your hand!!! But delicious, and you don't have to be a connoisseur of wine-like books to appreciate them.

Many people who I've heard complain about Tolkien's stories have also started with "The Silmarillion". Ok. Bad idea number one. "The Silmarillion" is really a book for already obsessed LOTR fans and geeks, much like "Unfinished Tales" is-- though "Unfinished Tales" is much easier to get through and even has a section from it featured in "The Silmarillion". I'm about as geeky about LOTR as any, and even *I* have not finished "The Silmarillion" in its entirety. The beginning is much about the creation of Middle Earth and the set up of the whole universe in which LOTR exists, and yes, it's a bit hard. Oh no, hard reading! (Did you hear the sarcasm?) But the brilliant thing about reading for fun is, if it's too difficult for your tastes, you can

a) slow down, or
b) not read it!

But don't knock it as bad just because you don't like it. There are plenty of great books out there that I don't like, but it doesn't make them bad. Certain novels however are bad in accordance with me not liking them. I won't mention names in case I offend. Sparkly vampires may or may not be included. *cough*

But as I was saying, LOTR is really a special set of books. I picked them up first around middle school, just as the movies were first coming out. Unfortunately I saw the first movie before I read any of the books, but that got me hooked and I speedily read the rest of the books before the next movie appeared, and again, and again, and again. I got "The Hobbit", "The Silmarillion", "Unfinished Tales," "The Middle Earth Dictionary", a Tolkien bibliography, and many more of his works that don't come to mind. I also have "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun" sitting right next to me here in a large stack of books I'm supposed to read this summer (gleeful I am!!) which is an epic poem, as far as I can make out with the tiny glimpse I've had through it.

For those of you who have never read the books *or* watched the movies, the novels are really without compare. They're...magical. I know that's a cliche way to say it, but that's all there is for it. The movies do a bang-up job of portraying them, with only a few discrepancies that are so-so in their annoying-ness, some of which only true fanatics would notice or point out. But as an avid book-before-movie believer, I really enjoyed these films nonetheless.

LOTR is set in Middle Earth, a land of elves, dwarves, dragons (or at least there used to be), orcs, goblins, wolves, giants, trolls, wizards, Ents (tree-herders; imagine a great big walking tree), and hobbits, who are the primary characters. Hobbits are also called halflings because they are about half the size of a man, rotund due to their love of beer and food, furry-feeted little creatures who love peace and ordinariness. Some of them are less ordinary than others, and some downright adventurous, such as Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins around whom the stories pivot. The One Ring of power which would give the Enemy, Sauron, power to enslave the whole world, has fallen into Bilbo's, and finally Frodo's, hands. They must find a way to destroy it before Sauron finds them and destroys or enslaves all of Middle Earth.

The deep, trenching seams of the story are incredible. You can see and feel mountains and valleys springing up in the great depth of the story-- every detail, every history is accounted for, and it all knits together beautifully. If you don't believe Tolkien ever did anything original, you can't ignore the fact that he sewed an entire world together from beginning to end in his mind-- the sheer amount of detail involved is staggering and beautiful. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the now of a story and forget origins, but Tolkien never did so. And it really shows in his stories.

Anyway, I should wrap up and go to bed! I hope you all stay well, stay barefoot, and try reading (or re-reading) LOTR this summer! They really are books to be savored.