Part of my return to the classics this year included another run at William Faulkner. I had only ever gotten through an audio version of A Light in August, which I listened to on a drive across the South a few years ago. The Sound and the Fury seemed impossible, but I started this year’s attempt there and kept going with As I Lay Dying, which I found more accessible due to its journey structure. What I love about Faulkner’s writing is his unsparing look at his characters, who always seem to be on the verge of tragedy.
So dial up another 2020 Best Read from the past–1930 this time. You can read my full review here, but here’s an excerpt:
There is so much to explore here. It is a meditation on existence and dying. It is a stylistic masterpiece with Faulkner taking every advantage of the form he is inventing as he writes. It does not let any idol stand, constantly knocking its characters down to size and inviting you to endanger your own soul by mocking their frailties knowing full well many of them are lodged within you. There’s also the deep logic of sentences that seem absurd out of context, like young Vardaman’s declaration that “My mother is a fish.” (It makes sense. You have to be there.)