Alan Fay's Reviews > As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
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's review
Dec 02, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: lost

** spoiler alert ** This book was very irritating for me to read the first time, since the Stevie Nicks clone with squishy purple boots who dared call herself an English teacher held it as exemplum of dramatic irony.

"It's dramatic because there are many different characters, and ironic because Addie's family doesn't know she's still alive."

It was the first time in my life I threw up in my mouth. That's not to say I was completely ruined by the experience - I re-read/skimmed it years later to verify I still remembered it as being off in some way.

I'm normally a big fan of the Southern Gothic (Crews, O'Connor, O'Toole), which sometimes I've heard Faulkner lumped into. It was just something about this book and its writing that didn't mesh right, like a drunk Don DeLillo. There's alternation between deep and sloppy character exposition throughout. Actually reading it is kind of like sitting at a table full of foreigners telling stories - all of a sudden, people start laughing and it compels you to laugh but you're not sure what the hell is going on, but you laugh anyway, and then everybody gets angry with you, and you feel like an idiot.

Solely because of this novel and its acclaim by others who celebrate the dreadful Nathaniel Hawthorne, Faulkner rests low in my mind as one of the worst authors of the 20th century. I'm willing to re-read it, or perhaps something else by Faulkner, to compassionately reach a conclusion about the man and his work. Or fool me into reading something without telling me it's by Faulkner.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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marilyn Yep, you're definitely wrong.

Sounds like that dimwit of a teacher may have tinted your experience there with complete bullshit. But I don't mind the drunk Don DeLillo or the foreign confusion comparison -- surely As I Lay Dying has aspects of that. But somehow Miss Purple Boots distracted you from seeing the beauty and pain and delightfulness in eating a meal with people who talk in other languages and laugh a fool and you only understand a few bits and pieces but you want to find out more.

Maybe try Light in August for some simplicity and less antagonistic confusion tactics. I think it's beautiful. But if you really want Faulkner at his most gorgeous, and are willing to put up with his nonsense, it would have to be The Sound and the Fury.

message 2: by Bill (new)

Bill I just wanted to pipe in re: southern gothic. I thought I hadn't read any southern gothic, but looking at wikipedia (for whatever that's worth) apparently I have read a lot. In any case.

All I really have to say is that Faulkner goes in the box with Joyce due to florid language, depressing circumstances, stream of consciousness, and. Other stuff.

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