Ladies and Gentlemen! Two guest posts in one week! I know, it really is the most exciting. Today, I’m lucky enough to have something by ANOTHER of my favourite people, Amy from Lucy’s Football. Listen, Ms Amy has had her blog going for a little over a year now, and in that year she has posted EVERY. DAY. Yes, every single day for over a year. As if that weren’t enough, she also (somehow) finds time to go to all this awesome local theatre AND post over at the Booksluts AND (as if that weren’t enough) she has her very own book of poetry being published in a few months. She’s amazing, and I’m constantly in awe of her. I asked her if she’d…wait, I’ll let her tell you herself.
Hi. My name is Amy, I’m in my late 30s, and I’ve never read any Tolkien.
I KNOW, RIGHT? In this day and age (especially, ESPECIALLY if you self-identify as a geek), this is akin to admitting you are a 40-year-old virgin (only without the hi-LAR-ious movie hijinks) or maybe admitting you were born without a SOUL.
To make things worse, I haven’t even seen any of the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not one. Not even a PART of one.
I don’t really have an explanation for this. I’m not the biggest fantasy fan, but I like it just fine. (I’m a gigantic G. R. R. Martin fan.) I didn’t have some sort of childhood elvish trauma. I don’t have a problem with little people or wizards. It just never happened. It never seemed like a priority. And once the movies came out, I didn’t want to watch them without having read the books first. (I’m weird like that.)
When I was in elementary school (I was trying to remember today what grade I was in – I was thinking 4th, but the person who read them to me was female, and my teacher that year was male, and I remember that because his wife shot him to death a few years later – TRUE STORY TIME! – so maybe 3rd? 5th? I’m not quite sure) our teacher read us The Hobbit. However, since I was somewhere between the age of 8 and 10 at the time, I remember none of it. Not a bit. Other than I liked it just fine, and the person who read it to us was excellent at reading aloud to squirmy children. Not long after that, the Rankin/Bass cartoon came on TV, and I was all, “Mom Mom Mom HEY MOM we read this in SCHOOL so can I stay up and watch this?” and she was all, “well, since it’s a SCHOOL thing” and let me watch it and I got as far as the Gollum scene and was SO SCARED but I was afraid to tell her I was scared because then she would be mad at me for kind of putting this thing forth as school curriculumy when it totally wasn’t. Mom walked in and saw me cowering on the couch and was like “NOPE THIS ISN’T APPROPRIATE” and turned it off and sent me to bed and I had Gollum-nightmares for weeks.
Anyway, so I was not in any rush to read the books. Not because of trauma – listen, the things that scare me now are losing someone I love, clowns, monkeys, and stepping on squishy things in the dark while barefoot, not things in books – but because I have other things to do, and because they’ll always be there, you know? But then sj, who I love more than pudding – MORE THAN PUDDING! that’s a lot, no joke – announced she was having a Tolkien re-read (or, in my case, first read) this summer, and she would like me to join. How can I say no to sj? I mentioned the pudding, right?
I finished The Hobbit today. sj asked if I’d write a post about The Hobbit written from the point of view of someone who is fast fast FAST on her way to middle-age who’s never read The Hobbit. I said, “I like attention in almost any form. I’m in, jellybean.” (No, I didn’t say that, come on.)
You want to hear I loved it so much, right? And it changed my LIFE, and now I want to attend CONVENTIONS with, like, I don’t know, Hobbit-feet on, or whatever?
Sorry to disappoint, buckaroos. I liked it just fine. I didn’t love it. I liked it solid, some parts more so than others, and that’s about it.
Now, I realize that saying you weren’t immediately swept away by one of the geek community’s sacred cows is setting yourself up for immediate derision, and most likely, in the comments of this post, I’m going to get a lot of those very stuffy “well, you OBVIOUSLY didn’t UNDERSTAND what Tolkien was DOING with the novel, you unintelligent titmouse.” OK. If you want to be that way, and it makes you feel good, I guess that’s your right. But I’d also argue that, while it is unarguably one of the most beloved books in the canon, it’s also a book. With pages. And words on the pages. And therefore, I am allowed, as a reader, to have an opinion on said book, no matter how sacred it is to a lot of people. I’m also allowed to have an opinion on The Bible, War and Peace, Romeo and Juliet, and The Joy of Cooking. As they are all books, and I have a brain, and am capable of forming opinions with it. We cool? Good, good.
Here’s what I loved and what I didn’t, as someone who is much too old to be reading The Hobbit for the first time on her own.
Bilbo. I loved Bilbo. I loved Bilbo from the beginning, with his adorably-described Hobbit-Hole and his consternation about whether or not he was going to have enough food, and then I just ADORED him when he had a freakout when Thorin was talking about their upcoming adventure and rolled around on the floor shrieking “struck by lightning! struck by lightning!” for no apparent reason, and that made me laugh and laugh. I liked that Bilbo got roped into the adventure without really wanting to go, because there was a little adventurous side of him, and how much pride he took every time he succeeded in something. And aw! His little homecoming, and they had declared him dead and sold off all of his stuff! I was so sad! Bilbo was a kick. I liked him very much.
Beorn. I liked big old boisterous Beorn who was sometimes a bear and could talk to his pets. I wanted to hang out with Beorn.
The earlier adventures. I liked a lot of the earlier adventures, like the Trolls, and the Wargs, and the spiders, and the Elves. They were quick and well-written and snappy. I was very entertained.
Gollum (and the whole Gollum scene). It was creepy. It wasn’t SCARY. It was definitely creepy, though. (Heads up: I do know Gollum’s history, a little. At least who he used to be. I don’t think you could live in society and not know that, back when the movies were out.) Gollum all creepin’ around in the dark wanting to eat people? Yep. Pretty distressing. I loved the riddles; I loved poor Gollum realizing the ring was gone.
Smaug’s cave. Smaug the exciting dragon, lying on a bed of ALL THE GOLD AND SILVER AND JEWELS EVER. Now that is exciting, right? Sure it is. I liked that part.
Gandalf. Gandalf made me laugh. He’s kind of a manipulative bastard, isn’t he? But he’s entertaining as hell. He’s totally in it for himself, but you cheer for him. He’s regal and awesome and tricky.
All the singing. My good gracious there was a lot of singing that I didn’t care at all about. Blah blah bliddy blah SING SING SING. Sigh.
Everything between Bilbo & the dwarves finding the treasure and Bilbo going home. Everything was ticking along like clockwork until ZOOM the action left Bilbo and the gang, moved onto “the men of the lake-town” and then we had to learn about a whole load of new people. And one of THEM killed Smaug. Not even Bilbo! Or one of the dwarves! Who we’d spent a whole book getting to know! Then there was a whole damn war! I didn’t care about a war and I didn’t care about a whole town of lake-people and I didn’t care about a fight over Smaug’s treasure. I know. This is where you’re all gasping and wanting to string me up. It’s just that I really was enjoying the book up until this point (if you skimmed the songs) and then there’s this whole CHUNK which is pretty much the whole end of the book that I just didn’t care about. I felt majorly let down. I can’t be the only one who thinks it would be a better book if somehow Bilbo was the one who, through his cunning, triumphed over Smaug, right? And don’t tell me he kind of did because the bird that told the Bard where to aim his arrow heard Bilbo talking and that’s the only way the Bard knew where to aim, or whatever. That seems to have been by eavesdropping and not by Bilbo’s active participation. I wanted Bilbo to have a bigger hand in the denouement of the book.
How little Smaug there was. More Smaug! How much fun was his whole little conversation with Bilbo, and his little hissy fit when he was all flying around crisping things? The MOST fun. Not enough Smaug. There can always be more dragons, as far as I’m concerned. Always.
Now I am on to the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have promised sj that I will read the first one. If I feel like I do right now when I finish it, honestly, I probably won’t finish the series. But if I love love LOVE it, I’ll read the next one and play it by ear. I am totally trying to be a good geek.
Also, I’ll at least be able to watch the movies, finally. Ooh, and see The Hobbit movie when it comes out! I do so love Martin Freeman. Sigh.
Are you so disappointed? Now’s your chance to roast me in the comments. Let ‘er rip.