This morning, early, I got a text message from my daughter. She is married to a great guy named Alex and living and working in Kendall, Florida. Kendall is a suburb of Miami, closer to Homestead than Miami proper. Miami is home to my children; they grew up there.
Anyway, she texted me the following message: “Alex just called me a Took. He says I’m a Took and he’s a Baggins.”
The message brought a burst of laughter to my lips. I experienced a sweep of emotion that most of you would be hard-pressed to understand.
First, you’d have to know the frame of reference. What are Tooks and Bagginses? If you ever read The Hobbit and remembered it, you’d get it.
Years ago, when I first read Tolkien, I also quickly identified myself as a Took.
Tooks love adventures. They take chances. They get restless and shun the accepted and conventional. Tooks make a difference! They are a pain in the ass. We all want to be Tooks, but mostly, we are Bagginses.
But why did her text bring me such pleasure? Because she is carrying on my ways. She is doing something I did and thinking like I did. She is carrying on tradition. She does this also when she listens to Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix, artists who were dead long before she was born.
Why is she suddenly reading Tolkien? Most of today’s generation are happy to watch the movies and take the plot as true to the books. However, my children are not your average stock. I did a good job raising them. They seldom shrink from a challenge.
A few days ago, in a telephone conversation about my writing, I said to her that most young people today cannot read the books I grew up reading. They have lost the language. To them, reading Tolkien is like me reading Chaucer or Shakespeare in the original text.
I told her that as indie authors, we are encouraged to write at no higher than a seventh-grade level because that is what the average reader is comfortable with. Classic works that have been the reading bread and butter of generations, are now considered too wordy and “purple” because they contain adjectives, adverbs, and complex sentences.
One of the biggest challenges I face in my editing is cutting down my sentences into palatable pieces that modern readers can digest. Sometimes I feel that my work looks more like a shopping list strung together than a creative endeavor.
Back to my daughter- it seems that she took my words as a challenge. She immediately picked up a copy of The Hobbit, and she loved it. Of course, an immediate discussion followed on the vast differences between the movies and the book.
She started the LOTR series this morning. I told her that the series is quite different in tone, themes, and reading difficulty. Unlike The Hobbit, the books that followed were not written for children. Just the foreword can be daunting. I offered to read along with her so that we could discuss as we go along.
That should be fun. For me, anyway. I will post once in a while about our progress.