Friday, October 4, 2013

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A difficult book that I can’t say I enjoyed.
The book is narrated by 15 different characters over 59 chapters. Faulkner writes in a verse somewhere between poetry and riddle, as in:

“We picked on down the row, the woods getting closer and closer and the secret shade, picking on into the secret shade with my sack and Lafe’s sack. Because I said will I or wont I when the sack was half full because I said if the sack is full when we get to the woods it wont be me.”

You can’t actually understand it. I read ever word of the book but I didn’t understand most of it. I had glimpses of understanding, as well as glimpses of greatness, with passages like:

“She prayed for me because she believed I was blind to sin, wanting me to kneel and pray too, because people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them salvation is just words too.”

I feel this book was done a million times better when it was called The Grapes of Wrath. I feel like Darl and Tom are very similar and both stories, written around the same time, involve a family crossing the American south in a wagon with a dead body.

This one was just too confusing. I read the Wikipedia article to understand the story after I finished it and I was amazed at how much I missed. Also the parts I did get, like the abortion mission, were so disjointed as to appear to be part of a separate story. I just can’t get behind this. To me Faulkner’s 4 am stream of consciousness does not deserve to be up there with Steinbeck’s thoughtful and well-researched masterpiece.

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