Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review of "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner

This book is narrated by numerous characters - each from their own point of view - in a stream of consciousness style. Thus it takes time, effort, and concentration for the reader to catch on to the subtleties of the story, including: the characters' states of mind, secrets, and in one case - psychosis.

Basically the story is about the Bundren family of Mississippi taking the corpse of their wife/mother, Addie Bundren, to be buried in her distant hometown - as she has requested. Because of self-imposed delays in securing the appropriate carriage; storms wiping out bridges; the tragic death of their mules; a family member's broken leg; and so on (the events of a black comedy essentially), the trip to the cemetery takes well over a the corpse decomposes and stinks to high heaven.

The patriarch of the Bundren family is Anse, a lazy, n'er do well, disrespected in the community. The Bundren children are: Cash - talented carpenter; Darl - insightful and well-spoken young man; Jewel - impulsive youth; Dewey Dell - adolescent daughter; and Vardamon - school-age child. Other characters include local people in the community - minister, doctor, neighbors, etc.

In the course of the story various characters exhibit a variety of behaviors including gallantry, foolishness, infidelity, fear, selfishness, kindness, meanness, and more - which for me, etched them in my mind. Though some people in the story are not particularly likable, most of the characters are (at least) engaging and memorable.

This is a good book, quite interesting, but it's best for readers who don't mind putting a lot of effort into their pleasure reading.

Rating: 4 stars

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