Who’s That Author? Susan Power

Who's that author final

Susan Power pic
Susan Power

Susan Power is a Standing Rock Dakota author from Chicago, Illinois. She is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. After a short career in law, she switched to a writing career and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

In addition to essays and short fiction, she has published two novels. The Grass Dancer won the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. Roof Walker is a collection of fiction and non-fiction. Her latest novel, Sacred Wilderness, was published in February 2014. She teaches at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Be sure to visit these reviews and related posts about Power:

“Red Moccasins”

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The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

The Sound and the Fury
The Sound and the Fury

by
William Faulkner

Rating:

Being a busy mom and reading The Sound and the Fury is a nearly impossible combination! I did my best, however, to read and understand this difficult, but interesting book. First published in 1929, The Sound and the Fury is Faulkner’s fourth novel. It’s the story of the Compson family and it takes place in Jefferson, Mississippi between 1898 and 1928.

Reconstruction after the Civil War has left the Compsons in a daze. They no longer enjoy their prominence as southern aristocrats and they are clinging to a legacy that has lost importance in the post-war world. The father is an alcoholic, the mother a hypochondriac and the four children have their own serious issues.

The best way to make sense of The Sound and the Fury is to understand how it’s structured. The book is divided into four parts, told from different points of view. The first three parts are told by the three Compson brothers and their stories are presented in an unusual and wildly jumping stream of consciousness format, with limited punctuation and many difficult setting and storyline jumps.

Benjy’s story comes first. Benjy is an idiot manchild and he can only communicate in the most basic of animal ways. In this section, you get a vague and confusing idea of where he fits in the family and how his parents, the family servants, and his brothers and sister, Caddy, feel about him. Major things are happening in the Compson family, but it’s hard to make sense of what they are.

The second section is told by Quentin Compson, the oldest sibling. He’s a freshman at Harvard and his life is unraveling. He has an intense and confusing relationship with Caddy and he’s struggling with serious internal conflicts.

Jason’s story comes next. He’s a selfish, sarcastic and bitter man, the only sibling to stay at home, but he’s not to be trusted and easy to hate. It’s a relief to get to this part, however, because his narration is much easier to understand. The missing pieces start falling into place and you start to feel better about understanding what’s happening.

The fourth section is written in a third-person omniscient format and if you reach this part, you can congratulate yourself! This section focuses on Dilsey, the Compson family’s black cook who is the Compsons’ anchor. She’s the only one who seems at peace with her place in this dysfunctional family.

I first read The Sound and the Fury in college and remember loving the book. But I had a wildly enthusiastic professor who explained everything to our class. I can’t imagine I would have understood any of this book if I had read it on my own. Today there are lots of guides to help you through this challenging book. The two I found the most helpful are SparkNotes and Wikipedia so check those out for some reading support!

I can’t say that this is one of my favorites, but I do feel good that I read it. It’s kind of like being on the other side of doing a workout. You’re glad you did it, but there was some pain along the way!

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Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli: Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

I’d like to welcome my next guest blogger, austinv56 of The Philly Sports Report (http://austinv56.wordpress.com/).  He has reviewed Things That Matter, by Charles Krauthammer.

things that matter pic

Things That Matter
by Charles Krauthammer
Rating: 3.5/5

There is no doubt that Charles Krauthammer, graduate of McGill University and Harvard Medical School, knows what he’s talking about. He’s been a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post for nearly 30 years. He’s also a regular on Fox News in the Special Report with Bret Baier. His knowledge of U.S. foreign policy is unparalleled by many in the world, especially for political journalists such as himself. His life, as told through his columns, certainly makes an interesting story.

This book includes many of his columns from The Washington Post, as well as other pieces he wrote for Time, The New Republic, and Weekly Standard. He organizes it into three parts—personal, political, and historical—which are then subdivided by chapters depending on the specific topic. His pieces range broadly from Halley’s Comet to controversial art exhibits to speed chess. He discusses whatever he likes, and he makes it perfectly clear that he won’t be censored. These are smart moves, coming from the 1987 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for political commentary.  Things That Matter was a #1 New York Times Best Seller for eight weeks this year and has been a top-seller for the last nineteen weeks.

The most interesting section of the book in my opinion was the first section, in which he discusses many personal matters such as people who strongly impacted his life and various other things he’s discovered about the world. He even created his own law, Krauthammer’s First Law, in which he declares that “everyone is Jewish until proven otherwise.” If you’re looking for a book devoid of opinions, you will not enjoy this book. He makes his thoughts known again and again through his column, and he makes no attempt to hold back.

He cleverly puts the personal section first so as to not deter people who disagree with his political views from reading the book. Once you begin the politics section though, he immediately begins arguing his Conservative points, going against nearly every Liberal view possible. But, he does it in a way that’s not (intentionally) insulting because he’s able to argue his points intelligently and thoroughly. Of course, the extreme Liberal will likely find this book awful because of his views, but as a Liberal myself, I still found merit in many of his points.

So why only 3.5/5? Well, first off, his Conservatism begins to run rampant as he bashes nearly every action and non-action that President Obama has made, especially in foreign policy, to the point where you feel like you’re reading copy from Fox News (which maybe isn’t too wild of an accusation since he appears on Fox News often). He does do a good job of explaining all of his opinions, but he can often sound intellectually arrogant, a characteristic that no one finds appealing regardless of political affiliation.

Also, to fully understand his book, you will need access to a dictionary at all times. Going back to the intellectual arrogance, it can rub the reader the wrong way when using large, difficult words in literally every sentence, sometimes multiple times per sentence. Congratulations, you would ace the vocabulary section of the SAT, but that doesn’t mean you need to brag about your expansive knowledge of vocabulary by using words and references that, frankly, no one ever uses in writing or conversation. I understand this man is extremely smart, but there’s no need to intentionally sound superior.

Regardless, I still think it’s worth the read because he’s made many interesting observations about the world and has a very peculiar life story (psychiatrist turned journalist). With the far left Liberal like it? No, probably not. Has this made me want to turn on Fox News? No, not at all. Was I entertained by many of his stories and points though? Yes, absolutely.

About austinv56:  Austin is a Rodale Scholar and majors in Journalism at Lehigh University.  He writes about professional sports in Philadelphia and covers the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as top NFL and NBA news.  At Lehigh he is a Staff Writer for the sports section of The Brown and White and is the newspaper’s official live-tweeter for sports events.   Be sure to check out The Philly Sports Report at:  http://austinv56.wordpress.com/!

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