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Light in August
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Group Reads: Pre-1980 > Light in August, by William Faulkner: Final Impressions, May 2014

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message 1: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Here's the location for your final impressions. Spoilers are welcome. If you write a review, please post your review link here.

Mike


Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Well- as usual, The Light in August and The Sound and the Fury are my two Favorite Faulkner reads!!! I am from Oxford and I have been an Eleventh grade American Literature for over 15 years and I have talked with a few privately who are struggling with The Light in August. I taught that in Eleventh grade with a thorough background before we started. We be an reading together to get used to reading the stream of consciousness narration that Faulkner made famous. We all took turns and talked quite often. I only cut them loose alone a few times because it was their first Faulkner , but after awhile they seemed okay to read more alone.

We got through some great discussions and read together and separate . We also had a little short story contest to see if anyone could write like Mr. Bill ! Yes, I gave prizes!!! I wanted to make their first experience a good one. The girls and the guys both liked our Mr. Faulkner. They did well on their test.

I taught just like a teacher: by a plot 1. Introduce your setting, situation and main characters, along the way 2. Enter in conflicts as you see them--- man vs. man, man vs. human nature, man vs. pride, man vs. racism, etc... All the way up until the major climatic event of the story - The Climax???--- this is the point in the story where everything in this story changes for every character and after this the story starts to wrap up ??? Which would start with Joe Christmas and the White woman wanting to keep him tied down , then , what happens to Hightower??? , then Lena' s baby's father being found, etc... You see it is all classically winding down in one violent act at a time until the denouement. The knots or ending is wrapped up. Lena is a happy traveler on a new path.

This was an English teacher's dream to teach. Drama, mystery, symbolism, murder and mayhem . Society issues addressed. Themes everywhere. But I will give no spoilers to this classic favorite of mine until others start to finish. I will say this. I read that the book was entitled The Light In August as Mr. Bill and Estelle were sitting on their front porch looking at the sun setting on another hot August day, when they say Mr. Bill commented on the light in August always looking so strange ...


message 3: by Meghan (new)

Meghan well I gave it my best shot. I got to page 130 and could read no more. I guess I will just to have to concede to Mr. Faulkner. I will finish one of his books one of these days!


message 4: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Dawn I will say I wished I had been in your class to read it I know I would have gotten a lot more from it.


message 5: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Meghan, life is too short to suffer through a read you don't enjoy, no matter what anyone else thinks of it. I tried to read "Confederacy of Dunces" three times in my life, and never could finish it because I hated the main character so much. Yet there are people who love that book and consider it a modern classic. Who knows why any book "clicks" or not, but I'd say 130 pages of a book you dislike is a fair trial.


Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Diane- I don't like Dunces either!!! Whew! What a struggle ! I am supposed to be the one that believes anyone who has the talent to get a book published should have a readable book. It may not be our taste!! I guess we could rate our books read by favorite foods! Dunces wood be spinach to me!! HA ! Dawn


message 7: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Liver would have to represent for me. I can't stand it even if it's fried, which makes everything better. I'd give "Dunces" liver pudding rating. "Light in August" is getting a fried chicken so far.


Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments I do like fried chicken and some cornbread with black-eyed peas and butter beans too ! Then that Pecan Pie. That is Light in August for me!!! Dawn


Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Brenda- if you come and see me , I will fix you up real nice!!! We will eat , drink and be Merry! Then I can show you my unique city. Just come whenever you want!!!

Dawn


message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Weil | 168 comments Dawn wrote: "Diane- I don't like Dunces either!!! Whew! What a struggle ! I am supposed to be the one that believes anyone who has the talent to get a book published should have a readable book.

So I no longer have to hide my deep, dark, secret, which is that with multiple tries, I just never could get into Dunces.



message 11: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Hey Y'all - I just found the greatest article on Why we Abandon Great Books! It is Cool ! Check it out!
http://goodereader.com/blog/commentar...

Sorry ! I don't know how to directly link you to the article!! I am technically handicapped!!! You have to read this , it is funny too!

Dawn


message 12: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
I finished "Light in August" yesterday. I'll try to get the link to my review here when I can get to a real computer, there's no way to do that on my Nook. Meanwhile just go to my books read list and pull it up.


Larry Bassett | 0 comments Diane wrote in her review: "This being Faulkner, and taking place in Mississippi in the 1920's, the big themes are race, religion and the way characters cope with what fate hands them."

I am one of the several who are struggling with Faulkner and would appreciate it if you would say something about your experience with how he handles these themes in this book. Do you know what he thought of Brown v. Bd of Ed?


message 14: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Larry, I have no idea what Faulkner thought of anything except what I've read in his fiction. I really need to read a biography of him, and I understand that there are a couple of good ones out there. Through his fiction, I would guess that he doesn't think too highly of religion, certainly in Light in August he comes across that way. The race question is harder to figure out. His portrayal of blacks is certainly conditioned by his upbringing in a southern place and time before civil rights, but a lot of his negro characters are smarter and have purer motives than their white counterparts. I should get a biography (I think one by Joseph Blotner is considered to be really good) and go ahead and read it. I'm sure it would help in understanding his fiction.


message 15: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Thank you for posting that, Brenda. It was both interesting and enlightening.


Larry Bassett | 0 comments Brenda, thank you so much for the link! I skimmed through this fascinating article late last night and intend to go back to it again when I can take a little more time to think about it. Not surprising, I suppose, Faulkner was a complicated man. It also sounds like his drinking may have played a role in his public comments.

Diane, I think it helps to know a little bit about the author's background, especially if you are going to focus on her/his work. I have done that some with Ron Rash recently. And also with Carson McCullers. As you point out, Faulkner may simply be a reflection of his time and place about race.


message 17: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Brenda - this is funny!! Dawn


Franky | 322 comments That's great advice :)


message 19: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Brenda- I have read Dean Faulkner Wells memoir called EVERYDAY BY THE SUN : MY LIFE AND MEMORIES WITH THE FAULKNERS. It is such a wonderful little memoir and I was so in hopes we could read it one day. Deanie , as they all called her, was the unborn daughter of Mr.Bill's favorite little brother , Dean. His sweet brother was a pilot and on the weekends he was what they called a " barnstormer " . You know , a trick show pilot who let girls fly on the wings and turned flips in the air. He also gave fun rides to friends. Everyone loved Dean. His wife was pregnant with Dean crashed during a performance one day. Mr. Bill was extremely upset and swore he would always take care of Dean's wife and unborn child. In this book I learned so many personal things about Mr. Bill that I will always love him and Oxford too!

There was one story Deanie told that her Pappy ( Mr. Bill ) told her about her Daddy . Dean admired his brother so much he told him one day he wanted to be writer like his brother. Oh! Mr. Bill said you have to be really serious . The fist thing you should start with is vocabulary. You must have a large vocabulary. He took Dean's hand and began there and started writing words he should learn. By the time he was through, Dean had words all the way up and around his arm !!! LOL !

I thought that was a lovely story. Deanie had many in her book and many more she told people in Oxford who wold just drop by for impromptu get togethers. We really lost her too soon. I wish I could have met her. I came close so often , but teaching kept me from many late night activities. Richard Howorth , who owns Square Books here could probably tell so much more.

Now there are a whole new generation of new favorite authors coming into our area from Mississippi and Alabama and other parts of our lovely South. I just think that if you know more about an author and his writing techniques the easier it becomes to read their work. Remember, Faulkner didn't have a formal education. So, it is AMAZING to me how well he writes. He outlines everything and fills in the blanks. He created a whole fictional world that was interlinked!

I just can't help but think of him as a master. Many do not like to read and decipher books. I am a lover of mystery. I love analytical thinking and I always have. I read books over and over just because I think about something later or just the pure pleasure of a writers perfect story. It is crazy, but I feel as Dorothy Parker once said, " The cure for boredom is curiosity . There is no cure for curiosity." I am a seeker of new learning experiences and what a better place to start than a book. Well, Google did com along to lead me to that book!!! HA!

Don't be shy reply,
Dawn


message 20: by Josh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josh | 185 comments I just finished, and while it was a bit exhausting because of density and multiple angles of attack (but not hard to follow as was the case for me in Go Down, Moses, I certainly would be in the "enjoyed" it camp. I intentionally didn't read a chapter by chapter breakdown on shmoop, etc. I will say I can now more clearly see the McCarthy inspirations; strangely for me it was reminiscent of Suttree although I can't clearly put my finger on why?

I found humor in certain parts (Christmas' childhood toothpaste puking incident for one). I'm not sure how to review, but I learned a few new words :"parsimony", "lechery", "catafalque", "chiroscuro", "palpitant", "catalepsy", and "demijoh"(although I had heard it in the "hot corn, cold corn, bring along the demijohn" lyric I didn't know exactly what it was until in here----thanks google.) Scrabble players watch out!

I may hold the minority opinion, but I actually liked the process of reading this one more than other Faulkners I have tried.


message 21: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Josh- you know what Faulkner's deal with the big words were? He was uneducated so he felt if he used a variety of words and a larger vocabulary it would make him look better as a writer . It was an ongoing argument between his style and Hemmingway's . I wish I could find that old comic of the two heads arguing about the issue!!! HA! Dawn


message 22: by Dawn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 252 comments Brenda- I signed up for that free class online on Faulkner just for fun!!! Harrington will be a guest speakers several times as an expert on Faulkner!!! It is mostly reading, watching videos , group participation - that is all ! It began the 12th! OOPS! I have missed a few days. The three books are As I Lay Dying, Absolom Absolom, an The Light in August!!! No extra reading!!! Good Evening Darling! Dawn


Karen Larry wrote: "Brenda, thank you so much for the link! I skimmed through this fascinating article late last night and intend to go back to it again when I can take a little more time to think about it. Not surpri..."

He was ahead of his tine concerning race- his favorite character was the black housekeeper in The Sound and the Fury, she was the strong hero of the story who kept the family together.


message 24: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 533 comments Here is a Light in August quiz I put together awhile back.

https://www.goodreads.com/quizzes/775...


message 25: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 533 comments Karen you did very well on the quiz. How nice it is to have you with us.


message 26: by Josh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josh | 185 comments Got most of it but through the quiz I figured out Doc was the boiler room man. How the HECK did I not catch that in the story??? Makes more sense now. Thanks for the quiz!


message 27: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 533 comments The pleasure was mine Josh. re HECK: that's Faulkner for ya, easy to miss big stuff.


Karen John wrote: "Karen you did very well on the quiz. How nice it is to have you with us."

Thanks! I love Faulkner and once you practice reading him, he will become an addiction!


message 29: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Here is my review of Light in August. It remains my favorite Faulkner. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... .

Mike


message 30: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 533 comments My review

A very good book. Well deserving of multiple reads. Not too difficult with the stream of consciousness.

Many things to consider; How like a Greek Tragedy this is. Mankind being pulled by the strings of the Gods. The level of misogyny, there isnt a sympathetic woman in the group (not even Lena) and the men treat them beneath contempt (with the exception of Byron Bunch, and I'm not sure about him). Lena uses Lucas as her reason to travel rather than admitting that she wants to see the world and this guy is a bum. She is abandoned by Lucas Burch yet refuses Byron Bunch's advances (shades of "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle"), and still he follows her like a puppy. Why did Faulkner kill Joe Christmas in Rev. Hightower's kitchen? Hightower as martyr; wife, church, Joe, and his ego. Themes of reincarnation, karma and dharma involved during Hightower's death vision.

Guess I'll have to read some scholarly works.


Larry Bassett | 0 comments John wrote: "My review: A very good book. Well deserving of multiple reads. ... Many things to consider..."

John, you recently participated in an interesting discussion about a two star review of this book from several years ago. I think that review is worth sharing: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

That two star reviewer commented to a five star reviewer: "For all I can articulate or cover in a review, at the end of the day, I didn't enjoy it whereas you did. We build our opinions around those two different starting points."

There are many of us, I think, who have struggled with this book (and with Faulkner) and finished with a sigh of relief or not finished it at all. I will be on one of those groups by the end of this month. I am to chapter 15 at the moment.

If I cannot manage to finish the book, I may well give it one star. If I somehow make it to the end of the book I will give myself a gold star! But my goal as a reader is not to put myself in a position too often of earning a gold star. I want to enjoy reading more than that.


Martin Zook | 30 comments One of the many things that is so impressive about Light in August is that it is part of a creative burst that may never be equaled in American letters. Other books Billy authored during this burst are: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying (written in a boiler room on an improvised desk in a boiler room), and Absalom! Absalom!

LiA, it seems to me, presents a number of challenges to the reader, starting with: what's this sprawling, brawling tale about?

Sure, a Christ figure in Joe Christmas is plopped in the middle of story, but is he even the main character?

The reading I think works best sees LiA as an examination of the community. That makes it possible to consider the many relationships between the various characters, all parts of different groups and institutions within the community, and Joe Christmas.

Such a reading also contemplates Time in LiA. On the one hand, it's a contemporary story, but on the other it is set in ancient time.


message 33: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Larry wrote: "John wrote: "My review: A very good book. Well deserving of multiple reads. ... Many things to consider..."

John, you recently participated in an interesting discussion about a two star review of ..."


Larry, reading books you love is too precious and wonderful to struggle with authors you don't care for. You've given Faulkner multiple tries, it may be time to set him aside. I have a hard time with some authors too: Cormac McCarthy, James Joyce, David Foster Wallace (I tried to read Infinite Jest 3 times and had to finally give up.) I'll give anything a try, but life's too short and my list is too long to spend on authors I don't "get" or see eye to eye with.


Karen I agree- you have to have that connection


Larry Bassett | 0 comments Diane wrote: "...life's too short and my list is too long to spend on authors I don't "get" or see eye to eye with."

You are right, of course, and I must wonder why I am so tenaciously holding onto Faulkner when he and I just don't seem to make it. I still have to try some of his short stories since it is relatively easy for me to "not get" a short story and move on the the next one. I mean, there must be something to Faulkner since so many reviewers I respect laud him.


message 36: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John | 533 comments Larry, Thanks for the reminder. Colin certainly has a quality review. His Wild Palms is like this (unreadable) for me.

Your perseverance is commendable. Like an iceberg where 90% is below the surface. I imagine there is something in this book that calls you forward.

Some one suggested that the main character in this book is the community rather than an individual.

Good luck Larry. Always a pleasure to hear from you


message 37: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Larry wrote: "Diane wrote: "...life's too short and my list is too long to spend on authors I don't "get" or see eye to eye with."

You are right, of course, and I must wonder why I am so tenaciously holding ont..."


As John said, I admire your perseverance. I have been in your position regarding other authors. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale drove me to gritting my teeth. I always felt he was in need of a good editor. For the most part, Henry Jamesmade me squirm in my chair with the exception of a few works. We just did not get along. I recently read an author interview in the NY Times review of books. Pardon me, my memory is not what it once was and I do not recall the author. However he named a prominent writer as his least favorite explaining he just didn't have the "gene," he guessed.

Hang in there. However, never think that not connecting with any author is a failure. It's just not a match. As Diane said, life is too short.

Mike


Karen When I tell people how much I love Faulkner, I always get a reaction. The Engligh teacher I work with said she doesn't like him, too weird. A lot of people don't like him, but I never feel like an elitist because I am among the not so many who love him. I understand why people are turned off by him, I was. And then I read AILD and I was hooked. But again, he certainly doesn't connect with everyone, on the contrary.


Martin Zook | 30 comments "I am among the not so many who love him."

You know he's dead, right?


Larry Bassett | 0 comments Karen wrote: "And then I read AILD and I was hooked."

I am trying to watch the recent movie of "As I Lay Dying" on Netflix. Have you seen it? Sometimes a movie will actually get me whereas the book will not. But it hasn't worked yet.

I might have to cold turkey Faulkner! But I have the book of his Collected Stories so will undoubtedly have to try some of his short stories to try to break the hex! (Hopefully some are really short!)


message 41: by Larry (last edited May 18, 2014 04:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Larry Bassett | 0 comments Brenda wrote: "Larry, try A Rose for Emily before you give up. It's one of my favorite Faulkner short stories. It's creepy, but very straight forward (at least in my memory) and I found it a lot of fun..."

I have just now marked it with a Post-It note in my copy of his Collected Stories and it is about a dozen pages. Now I should be able to make a commitment to that! I see my used copy was previously owned by someone who made readable notes in the margins. Maybe that is a good sign!


message 42: by Lexy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lexy | 24 comments Martin wrote: ""I am among the not so many who love him."

You know he's dead, right?"


LOL!


Karen Well if he was alive I'd be in Mississippi!


Martin Zook | 30 comments If he were alive, and you were in Oxford, you might be at the end of a long line of 17-year-old girls.


Karen Martin wrote: "If he were alive, and you were in Oxford, you might be at the end of a long line of 17-year-old girls."

Really? That's cool.
I just want to direct everyone to the William Faulkner website, just google it if you haven't already. It has a wealth of info about him and summaries of all his books- www.olemiss.edu


Randall Luce | 134 comments The last chapter: while I was reading it I thought, well Faulkner's having his last laugh. Lena and Byron, each playing out their own version of the myth of Sisyphus, and each quest, if successful, the negation of the other's. But then I got to the end and found that Faulkner had something else in mind. Lena wasn't looking for the father of her child after all, at least not by the end of the book. Now she was just seeing something of the world while she had the chance. And Byron, if he could just hold on, probably would have his devotion rewarded.

Which, to my mind, means that Lena, of all the characters in the novel, actually and finally was free. Seeing the world beyond her little community, breaking loose from what was expected of a woman of her class, was the one free action in a novel where everybody else was chained to their own fates, moved about by the principalities and powers of this world.

In a novel where the fear and loathing of women's sexuality was the driving force of most of the action, Lena's giving birth was the one saving and enlightening episode. Afterwards, Byron finally saw her whole, and Hightower, in his attempt to save Christmas, and for that fleeting moment just before dark, could finally see the truth of his life and acknowledge the consequences of his actions (if only for a moment, until the heroes and the horses and the sabers drowned his senses yet again).

And Faulkner's writing on the death of Christmas and his blood--"musing, quiet, steadfast, not fading and not particularly threatful, but of itself alone serene, of itself alone triumphant"--is wonderful.


Martin Zook | 30 comments Very nice, Randall. Got my morning off to a good start.


message 48: by Lawyer, "Moderator Emeritus" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lawyer (goodreadscommm_sullivan) | 2699 comments Mod
Randall wrote: "The last chapter: while I was reading it I thought, well Faulkner's having his last laugh. Lena and Byron, each playing out their own version of the myth of Sisyphus, and each quest, if successfu..."

Absolutely wonderful, Randall. Beautifully written.

Mike


message 49: by Diane, "Miss Scarlett" (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diane Barnes | 3972 comments Mod
Wow, Randall. That's a great insight. And beautifully expressed.


message 50: by Josh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josh | 185 comments Great summation of the final vignettes of the book. Went back and looked a few days ago and I think Lena had this in mind all along (whether conscious or subconscious) when she bought sardines and eats like a "traveling woman" but I certainly didn't see it coming until the final chapter.


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