Friday, July 30, 2004

As I Lay Dying

Not the metal band, but the book.

I got it. I read it. I didn't hate it. I just can't love it. This is a great American writer, and a great American book from the last century. I see the richness, but it rang a little empty for me. I was instantly reminded of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology, which was written 15 years earlier and is much prettier, at least as full, and just as biting and ironic, and hits just as sharp a chord of "America" as Faulkner does, not to mention the close connection with death and dying. Of course poets (seeds in a dry pod) can always brave new territory first, but let's be honest. Faulkner wasn't pioneering stream-of-consciousness. It'd been going in poetry for - ever? And Ulysses, king of the genre, was published about 10 years earlier. Anti-Victorianism had been going on since the 1870s. Heck, Anna Karenina had some serious stream-of-consciousness sections in it and it was published starting in 1873. Did catch an interesting paper someone wrote about Faulkner and cubism and surrealism. Maybe I'm just reading it so late that the freshness isn't fresh anymore?

Beyond all of that, I did like the book. I like the fact that I can say "I've read that" if it ever comes up in conversation for some reason. I like the fact that I've been to Yoknapatawpha County, even if I could never spell that without looking, and I'm not 100% sure I can pronounce it :) My favorite passages are when Faulkner breaks through his characters and slaps down a big hefty chunk of prose. WOW! Now if I can get that in larger doses, please? I will read more of him just because I saw what's hiding behind all of those darn ourns and tothers.

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