Title: As I Lay Dying
Author: William Faulkner
Genre: Classics, literary fiction
Publisher: Vintage International
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: Jewel and I come up from the field, following the path in single file.
Goodreads blurb: As I Lay Dying is Faulkner’s harrowing account of the Bundren family’s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Told in turns by each of the family members—including Addie herself—the novel ranges in mood from dark comedy to the deepest pathos.
Wow. Reading As I Lay Daying was quite an experience. I’m hoping some of you read along with me, because I want to know if you all found it as completely bizarre as I did! What a strange story about the ultimate in dysfunctional families.
Honestly, I had a hard time in several sections truly understanding what was happening, due to Faulkner’s rambling, stream-of-consciousness style. The biggest impression I took away was that Anse’s determination to bury Addie in Jefferson was the ruination of his family. Every member ends up worse off than they were before their mother’s death: Dewey Dell is pregnant; Jewel has lost his beloved horse; Darl is institutionalized; Cash loses the use of his leg; and Vardaman is unable to deal with his grief and becomes unhinged. This book could be a manual of how NOT to parent!
I honestly am struggling to understand why this is considered such an American classic. Faulkner is said to have bragged that he wrote the book in six weeks and didn’t change a single word of it. As someone who rewrites even blog posts several times, I wonder if that maybe isn’t necessarily something to be proud of. I know that this style of writing was very popular in the first half of the 20th century, but it’s not a style I enjoy reading.
Well, at least I can say I’ve read Faulkner, right? What did you think? Did anyone enjoy it more than I did?