Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, ed., Books and Culture. / New at patreon.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Idle thoughts on the road--

On the road... Zipping from western North Carolina to Atlanta today. If you are insanely curious, you may go to the Events page and see why. Otherwise, I shall report tomorrow night.

Last night I was watching Stephen Colbert and laughing heartily (though still  not regretting my longtime lack of television--and after all, I can see him with Peter Jackson or the late Maurice Sendak on the web), when it occurred to me that he must have had the most astonishing case of ADHD when he was a boy. I do hope he gave his mother a medal when he grew up. I think it's interesting that he loves Tolkien so much because Tolkien is the king of slow pace, and I am tempted to blame Colbert as a zeitgeist figure for increasing the pace of books and movies.

On the other hand, I feel oddly akin to him in certain ways. Family tragedy in childhood seem to be tempering for some people. And he is a fellow South Carolinian who got rid of his accent in childhood because he observed that people found Southerners to be stupid, often based on their accents. (Of course, I got rid of mine, or most of it, because my Yankee teacher was sure I was more than stupid!) It's lovely to have a South Carolinian known widely for his intelligence and quick wit.

10 comments:

  1. i wish I could enjoy Tolkien more. I do not mind the slow pace of his delivery at all, but I always detect a 'making up as I go along' that muddies the whole thing up for me.
    Oh well...

    In the UK it was once the northern accents there that were once deemed 'uneducated'. Quite silly really.
    I like southern accents here!

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  2. As W. H. Auden said in his review, one will love him or not! (Auden did.)

    Some people hear mine still. It evidently comes out on the phone and when I am a bit intense...

    By! Off to Atlanta--

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  3. I tried to get rid of my accent too, for the same reason, but mine comes through here and there to some people in some places. And Paul, I agree about Tolkien. I've wished the same, like I'm supposed to enjoy it, the way others seem to. But, alas :)

    See you soon, Marly! Hopefully!

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  4. Robin - Give me Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast any day!

    Marly - trek well!

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  5. Paul,

    Oh, I dearly loved Gormenghast!

    Robin,

    Am going to try and text you in a few minutes, and after that I zoom off...

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  6. P. S. I don't think there's anybody less making-it-up-as-I-go than Tolkien. He spent an enormous amount of time on the thing and invented a gi-normous back story history, languages, etc. I don't doubt that you have that sensation, but I wonder what it is, precisely... Would be interesting to nail down why it feels that way.

    As Auden says, you'll love it or not like it at all. Sort of like fish. XD

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  7. I don't know if I could read Peake any more. Loved him when I was a teenager, but back then his Ayn-Rand-on-acid, impudent "I owe nothin' to nobody!" stance was kind of adorable. Now that it's the official motto of the US House of Representatives I feel a bit different about it.

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  8. Marly, I suspect an on-purpose live storytelling style voice lends to some of the meandering, unplanned feeling, but I don't actually know :)

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  9. Marly - maybe that's it. I mean... he felt the need to back-track and make notes about the history he created and make sense of it?
    History is full of the unexplained; the inconsistent; the unknown and unknowable.
    I just didn't find all that in Tolkien's work.
    Mind you, I should probably give it another reading. It's been a long time!

    The movie did not help, sadly.

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  10. Just back from Atlanta (where I saw Robin!) and in Cullowhee...

    Dale,

    Gormenghast was a teen read for me also--my librarian mother gave me a copy. I read parts of it again a few years ago... I love Mervyn Peake's illustrations and drawings.

    Paul,

    Those two comments feel rather contradictory... Making it up as you go along vs. working out of an established world and history?

    Robin,

    I'll have to think about it when I have a copy on me. Loved seeing you today!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.