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Never Read Passively

Currently reading

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers
Ayn Rand, Tore Boeckmann, Leonard Peikoff
The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
David Mitchell
To the Lighthouse
Virginia Woolf
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Edward Gibbon, Daniel J. Boorstin, Gian Battista Piranesi, Hans-Friedrich Mueller
Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Perfect Wrong Note - Learning to Trust Your Musical Self
William Westney
The Prince
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James
Twenty Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
G. Lee Bowie, Robert C. Solomon

Absalom, Absalom!

Absalom, Absalom! - Wow! What a story. I was warned by numerous reviews that it wouldn't be easy--it wasn't. My approach to it was to read the Wikipedia summary and get the basic plot along with all the characters straight in my head before diving in. It worked out pretty well. Faulkner gives away most of the plot within the first 20 pages which has the great upside of rendering spoilers impotent. Knowing the basic plot I felt like I could sit back and enjoy the tale without being paranoid that I was missing something crucial to understanding the rest of the book. And wow, it is a tale to savor.Absalom Absalom! shows the inconsistencies, layers and complexities of the Civil War South as they should be portrayed--from multiple and personal perspectives. It is in no way the trite and axiomatic history of textbooks. There is pride, secrets and hidden motives. Love and war, murder, justice and redemption. The complexity of the story fits the time and subject perfectly.The writing is as intricate and beautiful as the story. It often feels like Faulkner is purposefully obfuscating his sentences while as the same time superficially clarifying them by expanding pronouns. At times the language is so convoluted that it seems that Faulkner is parodying himself, parodying the English language. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, either way the book lands almost perfectly in my sweet spot. I love the South, paradoxes and all, I like thick, rich language--some of my favorites are Rushdie, Lowry, and McCarthy. I like long books and books that can be, or even need to be, re-read to be understood. I savor the moment when I'm reading a book and I realize that it's one of those books that if I was stranded on the proverbial desert island with just it, that I could find enjoyment in it for a long, long time. Absalom, Absalom! is all of that.