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Never Read Passively

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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

The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury - How can you like a book when you hate almost all of the characters? I started off liking some of them, or didn't fully realize I hated them until I read third section which is told from the perspective of Jason, likely the biggest loser I have ever encountered in real or literary life. He's a self-pitying, egotistical, violent, aggressive, passive-aggressive, heartless, soulless SOB that Faulkner writes all too realistically.As I read Jason's section, my opinion of the remaining characters deteriorated quickly. Jason is his mother's favorite child which made me hate his mother for loving him. His mother constantly whines about fulfilling the wishes of her dead husband which made me hate her dead husband. Jason hates his niece who hates herself and wants to die. His niece is named after her Uncle Quentin who hated himself so much he DID kill himself, making me hate both Quentins. Caddie, Quentin the Niece's mom, doesn't make much of an appearance (having been exiled on account of her promiscuity) but we do know that while she was helpful with her handicapped brother, she can't take care of her own daughter because her lifestyle is too wild. She is desperate and helpless and Jason hates her and hurts her at every opportunity. I thought I liked Caddie, but I don't know, she seems hatable enough.That leaves Jason's mentally handicapped brother Benjamin and the black servants who work in the house. Benjamin is 33. He narrates for the first section of the book, ironically the only section that I found to be truly enjoyable. His doesn't speak and his predominant sense is smell. He's confused, castrated and constantly crying. Jason despises him and wants to send him to Jackson, a public mental asylum. While I liked his perspective, my feelings for Ben are neutral at best. Then there are the servants. I like them. They're the only sane ones in the book. Luster just wants a quarter to see a show (understandable), and his grandma Dilsey is the only person in the book with a mentality remotely close to my definition of healthy. I'll take their simple motives to Jason's insanity anytime.The oft-mentioned stream of consciousness writing style was my favorite part of the book and the reason that despite the bevy of annoying characters, my overall impression of the book is positive. When I got into the flow of it, it was uncanny how easy it was to follow the frequent shifts in perspective. I felt lost at times but the narrative always ended up coalescing seamlessly. Sometimes it happened synchronous with my reading it, more often, 20 or 30 pages later. Despite the beautiful writing, the reason I probably won't read this again, aside from the aforementioned annoying characters, is that I don't think The Sound and the Fury will have a lasting effect on me. It doesn't have the moral and philosophical insights of Dostoyevsky, the introspections of Hemingway, the historical expansiveness of Tolstoy, the humor of Cervantes or the mystery of Borges. Instead you get the dirty South. My native South is portrayed in a way that is akin to watching ESPN in some alternate universe where they only show the errors. It's painful entertainment.