Mar 07, 09
i have mixed feelings about this novel.
first and foremost, faulkner is an amazing stylist. it feels like i slip off into an alternate universe each time i read him. faulkner doesn't tell stories; he creates climates. there's something earthy and visceral about his language, and it was interesting to see it applied to pulpier material than i'm used to (i've only read the sound and the fury and as i lay dying otherwise). a fairly thick plot is lurking beneath all of sanctuary's style, even if it's occasionally hard to determine its events. this is the first faulkner text in which his ambiguity works against him. when i was 50-odd pages into sound and the fury, the confusion/displacement was intergral to its excitement. in sanctuary it has less purpose, and often seems unneccesary.
then there's the story itself. my least favorite aspect of the book is the way it's anchored around horace benbow, the good-natured lawyer who flees his family at the start of the novel. benbow's internal conflict isn't nearly as interesting as that of, say, quentin compson III. and his "everyman" status feels out of sync with the ambiguous, amoral world faulkner establishes around him. i'd also be lying if i didn't mention my discomfort with the novel's handling of rape. temple drake's promiscuity is used too easily to condemn her. i don't expect a suffering angel from this character necessarily - just a bit more specificity. i found it odd that ruby lamar emerges as a subject of sympathy as drake retreats to the background. truth be told, i wish most of the main characters were fleshed out more completely.
interesting and worth-reading, but a bit disappointing in light of his other work.