My favorite place in the Middle Earth

Farewell, Lorien!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

Date Started: June 4, 2012. 1:15 AM.
Date Finished: June 11, 2012. 2:30 AM.
Book #33 of 2012

It’s Lorien. Or Lothlorien. I haven’t seen the film yet and I think that works to my advantage because my imagination is not influenced by anything. Autumn leaves in winter? That alone tickles my fancy, although I haven’t experienced any autumn or winter yet in my lifetime, my country being a tropical island with eternal summers. And now, I am curious how this place is depicted in the film adaptation, or if it even was included in it. I heard from one of my bookish friends that the scene at the Old Forest was not included. That disappointed me because I like Tom Bombadil. He’s a fun elf (is he an elf?). He’s my favorite LOTR minor character so far.

And by minor, I mean one who is not among The Company (Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, et al). I also like Lady Galadriel, the lady leader of Lorien and the bearer of one of the elf rings. I imagine her as an airy, majestic elf queen. With the fair physical attributes and celestial wardrobe, who wouldn’t?

More on this book in my upcoming write-up, which I hope to deal with soon.

* * * * *

The Sunday Salon

The past week proved to be a time of great mourning in the literary circle as Ray Bradbury passed away. I haven’t read any of his books yet, which I realize now is a shame but I do have a copy of Fahrenheit 451. His death makes me want to read this immediately, but I feel that this will be selected soon as our book club’s book of the month so I decided to let go of it for the mean time.

Another death: Barry Unsworth. He is relatively less popular than Bradbury, but him being the author of the Booker-winning Sacred Hunger doesn’t make him any less of a writer. Now that is a real doorstopper, and with such books, I always feel that I have to plan ahead if I want to read them.

Speaking of the Booker prize, I recently wrote my write-up of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty. I was not supposed to post anything about it yet since I follow a writing schedule (I am anal in such matters). But when my friend relayed the news of our friend’s death due to complications caused by AIDS (I suspect pneumonia), I was prompted to do so.

So my post was a little melodramatic and a little personal, although I have to stress here that it did not totally veer from the book. If you are curious, please check out my post and tell me if it isn’t so. It just so happened that my write-up was framed around the AIDS crisis in relation to the death of my friend and the AIDS crisis as it is in our country. So far, I had a number of people liking it, and by that I mean the number of people clicking the Like button on the post. I cross-posted this elsewhere, and to my surprise, I received an outraged comment regarding the way I wrote it.

The cross-post resulted in an exchange of comments, and I will try my best to sum it up here. Commenter said the following (based solely on memory):

  • that he was disconcerted that I only felt the reality of the AIDS crisis now,
  • that people dying of AIDS will not describe their condition as “strangely, vaguely beautiful,” Which I guiltily wrote for an effect and for something else,
  • that he thought the way I wrote my post was more of my personal reaction to the AIDS crisis,
  • that I should not talk politics and keep my thoughts on the novel,
  • and that he’d rather not read the unexamined opinions on people’s private lives, particularly if it involves some moral judgment.

Apparently, the commenter is more learned in terms of literature than I am. I admit that much. But what I cannot take is when he said that I should have framed my post this way and not that way. Well, why would anyone tell someone how to write his posts? I know I have a rather bizarre way of writing a review, which is why I don’t call them reviews as much as possible. I call them my write-ups, or book rhapsodies, if I feel the need to be more specific.

Usually, most reviews give a synopsis of the book, an examination of the good and bad points, a dissection of the aspects of the novel (themes, setting, characterization, plot, style, etc.), and a final verdict. I also do that, but as much as possible, I’d rather not write my posts on books like that. I try to add my own personal touches, like what made me read the book, what are the effects that it had on me, what are my experiences in relation to the book, and what thoughts came about regardless of relevance to the book.

And is it so wrong to be personal? After all, reading is a personal conversation, and whatever you write about what you have just read, whether you do it the “standard” way or your own quirky way, is a personal reaction, so I don’t understand why the commenter is saying that he’d rather not read personal reactions. In addition, since we are writing about books, our judgments will always surface here and there. There is a lot of ourselves revealed in what we write, so I think it cannot be altogether avoided to come upon a lot of judgments and opinions in the things that we read.

I will no longer explain the other bullet points because I think I have somehow explained them in my write-up. My little talk with the commenter is not a big deal in such a way that I broke down and cried, but I just wonder: should there be a standard way to write your reviews?

In fairness to the commenter, he put down his thoughts on my behalf, because he thought that there are others out there who might be offended. But do we have to write to please our possible readers? If yes, what is the point of it? Besides, we cannot please everyone. I don’t know about you, but I think that is not a good practice. It is constricting, isn’t it?

Okay, I think I’ve gone on too much on this matter when it has already been closed and when I myself mentioned that it isn’t much of a deal to me. Perhaps it is; otherwise I wouldn’t have posted something about it. But it speaks of something, that blogging is becoming an effective medium to draw out discussions. And that we, as bloggers, can somehow affect eternity.