Eric M. Witchey's Reviews > Light in August

Light in August by William Faulkner
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's review
Jun 16, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, writing

Sometimes, being a writer gets in the way of enjoying a good book. Asimov once said something like, "The worst thing I ever did for my reading was become a writer." The first time I attempted to read Light in August, I had a hard time with the narrative distance. The narrator's interpretation of setting felt inconsistent with the character's experience. I was 35 years old.

A couple days ago, I turned 54 and picked up Light in August again. Now, my experience was less like Asmiov's quote and more like Twain's quote, "When I left home at 17, my father was the stupidist man I ever met. When I returned at 21, I was amazed at how much he had learned."

Immersed in the experience doesn't begin to describe it. For a few hours, I lived in the dust and judgements of Faulkner's south. For a few hours, I was Mr. Bunch and I wept for Mrs. Birch. The narrative distance problem was still part of my consciousness, but it was no longer a problem. Rather, it was the source of the power of the experience. I suspect that at 25, I was busy being proud of the fact that I could recognize the concept in a great work. From my pride, I drew righteousness in order to place myslef higher in my own mind. Now, I have less interest in spending the energy needed for righteousness. Thank God.
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