Wednesday, March 23, 2011

As I Lay Dying By William Faulkner

This book can really be described in one simple word, "Wow!" Having never read a book by William Faulkner, I can now say I am a FAN!  Even though the book started off as a challenging read, I am happy to report that I enjoyed it until the very last page.

When I started the book, I didn't know what to expect. Being from North Mississippi and having visited Faulkner's home several times, I really wanted to see what all the "fuss" was about. I checked out the vintage version from my job's library.
"As I Lay Dying" details a journey of a family determined to bury Addie (the mother/wife) in a specific location based on a promise.  The journey to get Addie (which happens to be the name of one of my best friends) is unbelievable.  From the making of the coffin, the accident in the Mississippi River, the flying buzzards, the cement, to the fire, each page draws the reader deeper and deeper into the plot. Faulkner's imagery, similes, metaphors, and other literary elements "brings home" exactly what he wants the reader  to see and feel.  Even though the "N - word" is used within the text, the usage of the word adds to the setting of the story.  Also, thanks to my participation in the 4Ws Writing Institute  I have been taught and exposed to the fact that some writers during a certain time period, like Eudora Welty, used the "N-Word" to illustrate the setting of the plot. Ironically, the vintage edition I read had an Editor's note from Noel Polk, whom I met during the 4Ws Writing Institute.

Additionally, this book possesses so many realistic family issues that the reader connects with the character and begins thinking of family members, who are similar to characters in the book.  The life lessons and realistic issues bring you directly into feeling compassion, anger, and other emotions towards the characters. However, the frequent switching between characters and their point of views was a bit much when I started to book. After my brief vacation from the book, I was able to enjoy the journey of Faulkner's often complex writing style, Southern dialect, and usage of punctuation (or the lack thereof).

For the literary critic, this book is "literary theory heaven." Being a lover of psychoanalysis, I hope to find the time this summer to write a psychoanalysis on some of the characters. I am already thinking of the psychological theories I can use, especially to understand characters, like Addie and Cash.

Finishing this book was the best thing I could have done. Perhaps, my inspiration stemmed from reading "The War of Art" and fighting "resistance." Either way this book was well-worth the struggle through the complexity. I really didn't want it to end. Even the last page of the book felt like the climax and left me yearning for more.

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