Thursday, 4 April 2013

Modern March: As I Lay Dying

As I Lay Dying
William Faulkner

Oh my poor head. Every time I even think about this book I get crippling stream of consciousness headaches (yes, that is a real thing). Though I must say, finishing As I Lay Dying feels like quite the achievement. Aside from the pain, frustration, confusion and general distress at Vardaman drilling holes into his mother's head (seriously, did that happen?) I am pleased to have read it. But that doesn't mean I think it is a good book.

As I Lay Dying is considered a great American classic. It focuses on the Bundren family shortly before, during, and immediately after the death of the matriarch, Addie. The majority of the novel narrates the family's journey from the Bundren home to Addie's burial site several towns over. Obviously they encounter quite the number of problems along the way and really the journey manages to destroy almost every member of the family. With the exception of Addie's husband, Anse, who seems like a right shady fellow and gets off scott free, Jewel, Cash, Darl, Vardaman and Dewey Dell are all either mentally or physically damaged. Basically, there is some pretty poor parenting going on.

As much as I didn't like this book, it did have its moments. I thought Dewey Dell as a character was really quite interesting and it was completely heartbreaking watching her try to procure an abortion. It made me get a bit ragey when the chemist assistant or whatever he is completely takes advantage of her naivety and ignorance. Vardaman's narration was also one of the highlights as I think Faulkner describes his gradual mental unhinging quite well.  

Overall I can see how this would be quite the meaty book for degree study but I can't see myself heading towards Faulkner for an enjoyable read. I almost wish I had studied it because I do think it would benefit from multiple readings. Nonetheless, I think I may have to alter my reading ambition from wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS to wanting to read ALL THE BOOKS (except Faulkner).

'Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it.'



  1. I'm reading The Sound and the Fury right now and I'm having similar feelings toward Faulkner...I feel like I could get a lot from the book if I were to study it harder or discuss it in a classroom, but it makes me very uneasy.

    1. I really don't think they are books to just sit down and enjoy. I think they take a lot more consideration than that. I hope your reading experience gets better though! Uneasy reading is never good.

  2. This is so not a book for me. I doubt I will ever read it!


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