Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"My father said that the reason for living is getting ready to stay dead"

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Family business
James Franco, you cheeky devil.

After he introduced me to Of Mice And Men via his Instagram account, I fell victim once more to his rampant social media marketing tactics. This time Franco got my motor running for William Faulkner's 1930 As I Lay Dying (No. 19 on Radcliffe's 100 Best Novels list), oftentimes described as a "tour de force" for its intimate tone, innovative narrative technique, and many existential reflections.

Oh, and the legend goes that Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in just six weeks and that he did not change a word of it afterwards. How bad ass is that?

The skinny

When wife and mother Addie Bundren dies, the Bundren family is determined to honor her dying wish: to be buried in the town of Jefferson. As the family travels across the Mississippi countryside, the motivations of every character become clear through dedicated chapters. The book's 59 chapters are titled by the names of their narrators, and through each character's views and perceptions, Faulkner offers a very intimate look at the family's flawed ways.

Darl Bundren, the second eldest of Addie's children, narrates 19 of the 59 chapters.

The review

I loved the concept of As I Lay Dying, and I found it very interesting how Faulkner allows you to piece the many chunks of information together yourself. The constant changing perspective was enthralling, but I felt a bit disappointed plot-wise. Sure, AILD might be a fascinating character study, but it's not what you might call a "fun" read. I respect and appreciate Faulkner's genius, in a way As I... even reminded me of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath in the sense that it calculatedly tries to sledgehammer you with fraught and emotion, but I don't reckon I'll be rereading it any time soon.

As I Lay Dying rating

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