Lori's Reviews > The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
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's review
Jun 03, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, booktopia-2012, classics, southern, thought-provoking, all-time-favorites
Read in June, 2012

I have always been intimidated by Faulkner but the chance to visit his home recently prompted me to jump in. I am thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Let me preface; this book is not written in a traditional linear, storytelling form and the chronology can and does jump forward and backwards decades at a time with no warning. Faulkner's method of telling this story in this manner, with stream-of-consciousness thoughts popping back and forth through time can make this very difficult to understand, especially during the first few chapters. However, I had been forewarned about this and downloaded my husband's audio version narrated by Grover Gardner and headed off to Oxford, Mississippi to see the land of Faulkner and tour his home and this is the Faulkner piece I chose for my baptism.

I must say, I reveled in Faulkner's prose washing over me. I was born and raised in the South and listening to Gardner's narration was a wonderful experience for me. My daughter (grown) and I listened to this together and we would pause the book and say, "Wait, I thought Quentin was a boy, did they just refer to him as a she?" or "weren't they just climbing trees? How can she climb trees with a veil and flowers in her hair?" This book is written in a way that forces a reader who is paying attention to ask questions like that. Faulkner does an amazing job of pulling it all together at the end and answering all the questions that come up during the first few chapters.

It is important to note that in the print edition, SOME of the back and forth through time or stream-of-consciousness thoughts are written in italic which can become even more confusing in the audio form since there is no way for the reader to indicate, "this section is in italics." However, when listening to the audio, the rhythm of the language rings very true and you don't have to deal with the distraction of Faulkner's crazy punctuation and inevitable never-ending sentences. I would have to agree with Ann Kingman from Books on the Nightstand and say that if I lived in a world where I had the time to sit and listen, undistracted to an audio book while at the same time following along with a print copy, that would be ideal, but I do not live in that kind of world, so knowing that I would possibly have issues, I listened to almost half of the book before going ahead and getting a print version in my hands to be able to quickly reference at the end of a reading session.

I loved the way Faulkner told this story from several different points of view; it was brilliant. The first character we hear from is Benjy, a mentally retarded (Faulkner's words, not mine) mute who is mentally maybe 3 but celebrating his 33rd birthday when the book opens. Through Faulkner's unique storytelling style, we see the world through Benjy's eyes from the age of about 5 through his 33rd year. Distracted by the dapples of light shining on someone's face, short, simple sentences, impressions, Benjy's telling, because of his limited understanding, is told in brief snippets with short sentences and elementary vocabulary which contrasts brilliantly with Quentin's story, the Harvard-bound eldest son.

I have known quite a few Mississippi characters in person and Faulkner does an amazing job of catching the essence of the Southern family in decline. I saw truth in every character, good and bad. Faulkner began writing this novel in 1928 and while that was many years before I was born, I feel as if I have truly experienced a part of the South from that time after reading "The Sound and the Fury" and I am glad I did. Though different in many ways from "To Kill a Mockingbird" this book evoked a similar feel for me.

I LOVE the story about a reporter mentioning to Faulkner that many people have found his work very difficult to understand and the reporter wanted to know what Faulkner had to say about that. "Read it again," was Faulkner's terse reply. This is not a light summer beach read and you must pay attention, but if you do, this story comes together beautifully in the end and can prove to be a very rewarding read. I struggled between 4 and 5 stars for this because of my initial confusion. However, after pondering this one for a few days and considering my overall experience with it, I moved it up to 5 because it is truly one of the best books I have ever read and it was a story to which I was anxious to return.

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03/31 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7)

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message 7: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Lagow You're a braver woman than I am! :-)

Lori Joyce wrote: "You're a braver woman than I am! :-)"


message 5: by Jana (new)

Jana Great review. And I love it that you listened with your daughter and discussed it when you were confused. Faulkner would have approved!

Lori Lori wrote: "Joyce wrote: "You're a braver woman than I am! :-)"

written in the LOL vein of discourse, NOT with a bratty, "nananana" inflection.

Lori Jana wrote: "Great review. And I love it that you listened with your daughter and discussed it when you were confused. Faulkner would have approved!"

It made for a by special experience. Maybe that is another reason I liked it so much. Sharing Faulkner with your children...pretty cool!

message 2: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Lagow Never fear, Lori, I got it right the first time! :-)

Excellent review, BTW.

Jackie I have never had Faulkner on my to-read list, figuring that, as an English and American Literature major, I'd done my penance with challenging texts. But you've made me rethink my position.

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