Friday, April 29, 2011


The Book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

ISBN: 978-0-679-73218-1

Music: Rural Alberta Advantage


Pages: 225-303

The Lead In: Going to try and just finish this thing today.

The 411 on the 55: So all along Bon was Henry and Judith's brother. Apparently Mr. Sutpen had been messing around with the help. This explains both his knowledge of Bon's background and his intense fight against the marriage. Bon's mother had done her best to train him to punish Sutpen from birth. It was her plan for revenge that brought him into contact with Henry in college and led him to Judith.

The story meanders through telling from multiple memories and characters. Quentin wrestles with his own past and imagine countless conversations between Henry, Bon, and the rest of the bunch. Finally the story ends with Quentin and a relative returning to the ruined Sutpen Hundred to find the extremely old Henry and a former slave living in the dilapidated mansion secretly. Henry is dying and when they try to bring medical treatment to help him, the former slave sets the house on fire, killing the remaining Sutpen.

The 20/20: This book was certainly not an enjoyable read. I found the narrative confusing and complicated. The story seems to have a moral, pointing out the complicated nature of African American and white relations in the Old South. It seems that it also emphasizes the punishment on an entire family tree for the sins of the father (fathering a child with a black woman). I didn't like it much, sort of let down, as I have always enjoyed Faulkner. Better luck next time, I guess.

Line of the Day: " that time he had learned that there were three things and no more: breathing, pleasure, darkness." pg. 240

Fact on the Fiction: Faulkner did a lot of work in Hollywood, including the screenplay for the movie, The Big Sleep.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


The Book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

ISBN: 978-0-679-73218-1

Music: Rural Alberta Advantage


Pages: 168- 224

The Lead In: Again my reading was interrupted tonight, this time by a friend leaving town in the morning. Five turned into ten, then twenty, etc.

The 411 on the 55: No better this time. So Bon is dead, but it turns out there is all sort of white/black lovin' going on. Everyone is a halfer and its really throwing the social order out of wack. That's about all I understood from today's reading.

Line of the Day: "Jesus, the South is fine, isn't it. It's better than theatre, isn't it. It's better than Ben Hur, ins't it. Now wonder you have to come away now and then, isn't it." pg 176

Fact on the Fiction: No facts today. Ung.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


The Book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

ISBN: 978-0-679-73218-1



Pages: 112-167

The Lead In: Soccer on in the background, not helping my focus.

The 411 on the 55: The story shifts from the straight on narrative to a much more muddled personal style of the old lady. Its confusing and I was lost the entire night. Hopefully it will clear up tomorrow. Needless to say, this is a bad post.

Line of the Day: "Aye, grief goes, fades; we know that - but ask the tear ducts if they have forgotten how to weep." pg 116

Fact on the Fiction: Faulkner is often considered the biggest influence on one of my favorite modern writers, Cormac McCarthy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

ISBN: 978-0-679-73218-1

Music: -

Company: Sleeping Wife

Pages: 56-111

The Lead In: Sometimes timing is everything when it comes to reading. I read a bit before work today, thinking I would wipe the rest of 55 during my lunch break. Sadly, when lunch came, I was wore out and ended up staring into space/napping during my thirty minutes. Luckily, no work tomorrow so I had time to stay up a bit later and finish my reading/writing.

The 411 on the 55: Thomas Sutpen has it made with his sweet plantation, flock of slaves, and wife of good reputation. Granted the town hates him and sees him as an outsider who doesn't deserve respect or honor, so there's that. He has two children, Henry and Judith. They grow up to be respectable (as they can be, victims of their father's hubris) young adults and Henry heads off to Oxford Mississippi to attend college.

At Oxford, Henry is a hillbilly compared with the other dandies in his classes. He chooses one of these dandies as his model, Bon. He writes about, dotes on, brags about, tags after Bon. Its almost a crush in its extent. Bon falls for Judith during one of his visits to Sutpen's Hundred and Judith feels the same. Thomas Sutpen has his doubts. He travels to Oxford and digs up dirt on Bon: a black wife and child. Obviously this will not do. Though he is slow to come around to the truth, Henry faces this fact and tells Bon he cannot marry his sister. Bon claims otherwise and Henry shoots him.

Line of the Day: "He has been too successful, you see; his was that solitude of contempt and distrust which success brings to him who gained it because he was strong instead of merely lucky." pg. 82

Fact on the Fiction: The title refers to the Biblical story of Absalom, a son of David who rebelled against his father and who was killed by David's general, Joab, in violation of David's order to deal gently with his son. Another parallel to the Biblical story is that Absalom had his half-brother executed for raping Tamar, his sister. Faulkner's novel substitutes a seduction for rape. Wikipedia

Monday, April 25, 2011


The Book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

ISBN: 978-0-679-73218-1

Music: High Violet by The National

Company: None

Pages: 1-55

The Lead In: Spurred by a podcast version of a Civil War Yale lecture series, I picked this book off the shelf and decided to give it a shot. Faulkner is really tagged as "the" quintessential Southern writer.

The 411 on the 55: This book seems to be like most of Faulkner's work: fractured people living fucked up lives in a humbled and bruised American South. The story begins as an older woman telling a young man, soon to be off to Yale, the story of their family and the trouble brought in by a particular patriarch, Thomas Sutpen.

I think the most important aspect of the American South, as emphasized in Faulkner's writing, is the concept of honor. The Yale lecture mentioned this and even in the first 55 of this novel it is clear. Sutpen rides into town without a history, name or much money. He brings with him a group of wild slaves (apparently different from the rest the town has seen) and a basket of gold he uses to buy land, The Sutpen Hundred (square miles). He builds plantation, furnishes it, then marries the daughter of a poor, but well-respected, member of the town. The old woman telling the story is this woman's sister.

Line of the Day: "He wasn't a gentleman. He wasn't even a gentleman." pg. 9

Fact on the Fiction: Faulkner's Acceptance Speech for his Nobel Prize in 1950.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The Book: Serendipities by Umberto Eco

Finished this book last night. A little on the brighter side of the spectrum. Eco's work on language, 5 essays concerning its roots, is almost master's homework. The work is, at times, very interesting and mind-blowing. His focus on the pre-Tower of Babel language was especially fascinating, bringing to light multiple authors and inventors I had never heard of prior to the essay. But, at just as many times, the book is as clear as mud. Eco is brilliant, a master of language, and I am not. I imagine it would be like trying to discuss the subject with him, it would be boring for both he and I, simply because we are moving on different levels.

However, don't let that last comment make you fearful. Read the book and try to grasp what he is saying. Stretching your mind is the only way to strengthen it. Push your limits, read this book.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The Book: The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco

ISBN: 0-15-603037-3

Where: Home

When: 11p-12a


Company: The Family

Pages: 112-157

The Lead In: This book is dragging a bit. Just being honest there. Eco has a tendency to ramble a bit, which I like at times, but, because he does it constantly, it begins to grate a bit on the nerves.

The 411 on the 55: The focus shifts to the past again. Roberto falls in love with a whore. Well, or so the book hints at. She is, for sure, a peasant and beneath his class. He goes to his friend for help on writing a love letter to her, but he chickens out and doesn't give it to her. His fear of rejection strangles his words in his throat and he moves on, painfully in love. Even worse, he catches the plague and is dragged off to either die or recover in a convent.

And survive he does. The war is ended by a peace treaty and, the end of this story (on the boat), is now in the future.

Line of the Day: "In a brief period of time Roberto lost father, beloved, health, friend, and probably the war." pg 141

Fact on the Fiction: Apparently many people are still interested in siege warfare, medieval style. Medieval