The other day my husband said, “You never read anymore.”
He’s right. The last few weeks I have not been reading. I suppose it’s a combination of being busy, too tired at night and just not that engaged with what I’m reading. The latter being surprising. I have been re-reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, one of my favorite books and my favorite of the ones she’s written (I have not read The Secret Keeper, yet). It is not holding up well under the re-read, though. I felt the familiar impatient pull to move on to something else, a book from The Classics Club, perhaps a little early 20th century American literature.
Yesterday, when selling books at Half-Priced Books (step one, which I am doomed to repeat over and over in my never-ending struggle to organize the home office) I picked up Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (not American lit), Loving Frank (for book club) and The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner. If I read Faulkner in High School I have forgotten it so decided it was time to read one of the most celebrated and influential Southern writers. Plus, I liked the cover.
If you’ve ever read The Sound and the Fury I will pause in this blog post while you recover from falling on the floor laughing. For those that haven’t read it, mosey over to this Wikipedia page to see why the others are laughing their asses off.
The first thing I learned was I never read Faulkner in high school; I would remember it. Second, after struggling through the first 25 pages, I felt like I should turn my blogging card in, throw up my hands and give up. This is by far one of the most difficult books I have ever tried to read. I’m not sure I would be mentally up to reading it even when I’m on a roll, much less when I’m struggling to keep focus. If I stop, though, I will become more depressed about my reading failings. Even worst, is this admission of the depth of my ignorance: I believed I could finish The Sound and the Fury by Sunday then pick up my book club book, Loving Frank, and finish it by Wednesday. Lofty goals for a woman who hasn’t finished a book in a month. A month!
I’m irritated because I’m not up to reading it. I’m irritated because I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about Faulkner and his writing style. I’m irritated because I don’t know if I’m smart enough to understand The Sound and the Fury even if I’m able to stay on track and read it. Finally, I’m irritated because I will never be able to write anything half as deep and if I did try, it would be shit.
My only consolation, and it is as cold and hard as a morticians table, is I am aware of how illiterate I am. (Did you know illiteracy is a synonym of ignorance? Seems rather apt in this case.) Hopefully, my self-awareness will make me less pretentious and will lead me forward on a path of self- knowledge. Or, it might just make me bitter. It’s a toss up.
I will let you decide what I should do. Should I:
a. Put The Sound and the Fury aside until I’m mentally on task again
b. Go with your original plan, read TSatF until Sunday, then read Loving Frank, then pick TSatF up again.
Have you read The Sound and the Fury or any other Faulkner? What did you think?