Favorite Author — J.R.R. Tolkien
I am no fan of fantasy. I didn’t read much of it as a kid – I was hooked on mysteries – so that may be why I can’t get interested now. If I pick up a fantasy book thick enough to break my foot, I realize I will have to take notes to remember the world’s regions, languages, and alliances, not to mention each character’s abilities, loyalties, and hatreds. So I quietly lower the book, making sure my feet are clear, and run away.
But I am a huge fan of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. I have a special fondness for The Hobbit. In seventh grade, I was assigned to read it, and it was one of the few assigned stories I ever enjoyed. Most of my required reading concerned characters who learned valuable lessons and then watched a loved one die. The Hobbit has a few deaths, but they seem reasonable since they occur during a battle. And with all the action and heroics, no one has time for valuable lessons. I loved it.
I read The Lord of the Rings when the movies came out. The best sections are the ones concerning the hobbits, which Mr. Tolkien said were his favorite to write. I can tell. The human characters begin to bore me after a while. They are all so tall and grave and noble that I begin longing for a human who is short and frivolous, and ignoble.
I have recently become interested in myths and enjoy The Silmarillion because it is myths for a modern audience. As greatly as Greek and Norse myths have influenced our culture, many of the stories make us scratch our heads because they were not written for us but for the people of their time. The Silmarillion is accessible and identifiable to modern readers since it was written by a man of the twentieth century.
It’s structure is more like pure storytelling than a novel, and I think Mr. Tolkien writes better in that style. Whatever the reaons, I return to The Silmarillion again and again.