April 13, 2008

As I Lay Dying

by William Faulkner

(the corrected text)

1930 - Vintage Books (Random House, Inc.)

Life can really suck. I know it. You know it. You can have these moments or days or longer that just seem horrible. Everything goes wrong, every move you make is the wrong one and your problems keep building up instead of being solved. When I lapse in to these "seasons" I like to remind myself of Matthew 6: 25-34. God knows what we need and He has promised to take care of us. I often have to remind myself that I can't always do things on my own and asking for help can be the best solution.

The characters in Faulkner's story do not share my beliefs about comfort and help. They are not happy people. They live in a time when happiness and joy and comfort are not expected parts of everyday life, they are commodities that few people experience. Instead, they are selfish and angry and confused. When Addie Bundren dies, her husband and 5 children start on a journey to take her back to her home town to bury her. Everything that can go wrong on their trip, does.
The fact that each chapter is told from a different character's perspective gives an extra layer to the unfolding story. That makes it a little bit hard to get a grasp of who the characters are at the beginning of the book, but once you get into it a bit it becomes more clear. Hearing their thoughts, you discover internal things about each character that add to their unrest and discord above the physical trials that the family experiences. It was very striking to me how much they tried to rely on themselves and not others during their trip, even though it was obvious they needed help.

I'm not a huge fan of "literature", but I am trying to appreciate it. Faulkner's name is one that I've always associated with serious fiction, and now I see why. The story is at times very confusing, and I think I would have benefited from reading it in a class where the teacher could explain some of the nuances that I'm sure I missed.

1 comment:

Chain Reader said...

I am a fan of literature, but this was a little too much for me! I can see his genius, I just don't enjoy it.