Dear Mr. Rothfuss,
Why is it that the more you love a book, the harder it is to review? But the more you love it, the more you want to review it, because you want everyone else to know how great it is. This is my current dilemma. I recently read The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and I feel like I might explode from excitement. But all the silly little words I’ve thrown at it so far have just flailed around in the air and bounced off its surface and finally crashed like paper airplanes. And if I write paper airplanes, you write, let’s say, Air Force One or Starship Enterprise. So how do I do this book justice? I don’t think I can. So I thought I’d just skip the heavy analysis that my English-teacher-brain always demands and just tell you how much I love your books, especially The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and how much Auri means to me.
So your foreword – I know I’m not the only one who was a little surprised at your opening line. “You might not want to buy this book.” But frankly, I ignored that warning. I knew that little part wasn’t aimed at the likes of me. I know you had your own good reasons for that caveat; but I mean, I was so impressed with The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear that I think I’d at least give a chance to anything you offer us, from novels to stories, to grocery lists. Hell, I’d read your alphabet soup leftovers, at this point. Not buy your new book? Ha!
Besides, since I’d already encountered this lovely, perceptive, solitary, girl of small build with the cloud of blonde hair and the selfless heart, I knew I’d enjoy this book. Auri is such a beautiful character. I can’t exactly pin down what happened to Auri; you tell us, “She knew of red. She’d had enough of screaming.” And you hint at arcane or magical abilities, such as those that Kvothe and other University students and professors possess, which hints at a “former life” of sorts. But whatever it was, something made her lose the connection she apparently once had with the above-ground world before she became broken and began living her life in the Underthing in the tunnels and unseen spaces below the University. But knowing a little bit (to put it mildly) about Asperger’s and autism, I relate to some of her cryptic language, the anxieties that can appear from out of nowhere, and the logic that is all her own. That’s not to say Auri is autistic; but I understand those unique insights and the reasoning that is hers alone. She sees things differently than other people, that’s all. She builds her own life and makes her own happiness. And that’s a thing of beauty.
I also have to tell you that your treatment of inanimate objects is masterful, artful, and oh-so-praiseworthy. Auri makes me believe in the feelings and preferences and moods of the objects with which she surrounded herself; this is, after all, where the title of the book comes from. She knows the value of “doing things the proper way,” and she’s willing to dive into deep, cold water to fetch sunken things up to their new homes; she’s willing to be cold because her blanket touched the floor, and it wasn’t fit for a bed anymore – it had to be made happy elsewhere. If a key is happy on an empty table, then that’s its proper place and it should stay there until it changes its mind. If a brazen gear is unhappy on the bookshelf, it should be moved until it finds its home too.
She folded the blanket carefully then, her hands gentle. She matched the corners and kept it square and true. Then she found the proper place for it upon the bookshelf, and brought the smooth grey stone so that it wouldn’t want for company. It would be cold at night, and she would miss it. But it was happy there. Didn’t it deserve to be happy? Didn’t everything deserve its proper place?
Oh, that brazen gear. English-teacher-brain wants me to describe it in terms of symbolism and imagery, with the significance of the number three; but I refuse. Instead, I simply have to tell you that the brazen gear, dubbed Fulcrum in that lovely moment when he receives his name, is just to me what he is to Auri – full of love and knowledge, something comforting. And the moment that should have destroyed the gear and broken Auri’s heart – the moment I felt the tears rise in my own eyes – it is a moment of revelation. It is a moment of Auri’s unique wisdom and insight, a lesson in perspective. It is the moment that we realize brokenness can be just what we need. Our own brokenness can be a gift, to ourselves and to others.
On a different note, another reason I love The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and all your books, is that you’re just a damn good wordsmith. I mean, sure, I love that you use words like “tenebrific” and “coruscant” and “cerulean;” but your adept crafting of sentences, paragraphs, of the entire book, is just mesmerizing. I’d been marveling at this exquisitely wrought text the entire time I’d been reading; but when I reached page 116, I stopped dead in my tracks. I reread that bit, at least three times. Then I took it down and texted it to my best friend, prefaced with, “Oh my gosh. It’s out of context for you, but tell me this isn’t beautiful…” You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.
But there. Against the wall she saw the brazen gear was all unchanged. It was too full of love. Nothing could shift it. Nothing could turn it from itself. When all the world was palimpsest, it was a perfect palindrome. Inviolate.
I simply can’t follow that up. This is why I am able to love Auri, and how I can understand her world and her Silent Things. This is why I’d read your alphabet soup.
Lastly, I just have to say thank you for The Kingkiller Chronicle: The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear.
Thank you for giving us an even more personal and intimate book experience by recording the audiobook The Slow Regard of Silent Things in your own voice. It makes all the difference.
Thank you, Mr. Rothfuss, for giving us Auri. I feel as if I know her and as if, despite her solitude, she is my friend. Thank you for presenting her to us in such beautifully written language. Thank you for showing us how broken things aren’t necessarily ruined or useless.
Bethany, a fan