As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Cover ImageFinished 8-19-10, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 1930

He had a word, too.  Love he called it.  But I had been used to words for a long time.  I knew that the word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear. 

Addie, page 172

The Bundren family lives in Mississippi in the 1930’s and they are preparing for the death of their matriarch, Addie.  Anse, Addie’s husband, has promised her that he will take her body to Jefferson and bury her with her kin.  This promise was easily made but not easily kept.  There were many obstacles in the way of the family’s journey and Anse and their five children had to band together to make the promise happen.

This is my first Faulkner novel and it was a unique reading experience.  Jason tried listening to the audio last year, but gave up and now I see why.  This book makes you work for it and I think listening to the audio in the car would be a difficult proposition.  There are 15 different narrators in this 261 page novel.  I started by writing each of them down for a reference as I was reading and even with that I totally missed who one of the important narrators was and cheated by checking online after I was done.  So, you really have to be one your toes!  And because of that I really think this books begs to be read in one sitting. Faulkner’s writing is spare, but beautiful, and it takes a few chapters to really get into the rhythm.  Once I got it I did not put the book down until I was done.

I liked it because of the innovative writing style, but wasn’t that crazy about the story itself.  The Bundren family is full of characters, but not necessarily any that I truly cared about.  Since I appreciated the writing I will definitely read Faulkner again, but only when I’m ready to devote some time and brain power to the reading.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by…Candice, Hannah, and Molly.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Faulkner is my favorite. This book is a great example of what I love about him. Makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you crazy.”  Molly

“Because this one is often read in high school English classes, but somehow you and I both missed out.”  Hannah