I've undertaken to read this to the boy; our first real book with chapters. Richard and I alternate reading at bedtime, so the experience is kind of fractured, but so far I'm loving it. I got to be trolls tonight. I do brilliant trolls.
When I was six, my dad, who was more the reader-at-nighter of my parents, endeavored to read The Hobbit
to me. He got to the part about the giant spiders in Mirkwood, and I promptly lost my damn mind, and begged him to stop reading. He did. My room at the time was this odd room that couldn't rightly be said to be on any floor of the house but its own: you reached the top of the stairs to the second floor, and then there was a door at the end of the long, Victorian hallway, then then another set of maybe five stairs to a small room with sloping ceilings, kind of like a dormer, but not. I couldn't be called an arachnophobe, exactly, but I was regularly terrified by mosquitoes that would somehow get into the bedroom while I was sleeping, drink my blood, and then whine around me in the dark. The ceilings were dotted with the bug and blood marks when my dad would have to come in after I started screaming and hunt down the offending insects with a shoe. So boo on you, mosquitoes, and boo on giant spiders.
When I was eight, he started again, and the intervening two years gave me the composure necessary to finish the tale. I loved it. I didn't really go on a big rampage of reading fantasy at this point, although I did like the Lloyd Alexander stuff I found in the school library. But something about this story made me want to write it myself, and I set to telling the tale of some creature who never went on adventures until he did and then all manner of craziness ensued. I don't know where any of this writing has gone, and in truth I don't think I really want to see it, but I'm now stuck by the power of Tolkien's writing to make other people want to write. I just recently finished reading Meditations on Middle Earth
, and if there is any commonality to the stories of latter day fantasists, it's that being readers of Tolkien made them writers. (I mean, shit yeah, writers are always readers first – duh – but I'm just going to go on record as saying that if an author claims never to read, then they aren't an author, they're a dumb word product generator/marketer, and no reader should ever encourage them. There's enough crappy word-product coming out of people who actually give a tinker's damn, bless them.) There's something exceptional about Tolkien's world that drives people to tell stories themselves, something weird and hind-brain, coiled up in our mystical and commonplace daily word usage that jumps from the dinner table anecdote to the broad, unending vistas of the otherworldly. Man, just thinking about it makes me all hot.
You can find the rest of the review on Soapboxing.net
Look, I totally get how annoying it is to find these teaser reviews that send you off site to read the rest of them. But given how Goodreads management has been insanely delete-happy about reviews that are "potentially off-topic", I'm not trusting my content to this site any longer.