Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

Cover ImageFinished 8-19-10, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 1930

He had a word, too.  Love he called it.  But I had been used to words for a long time.  I knew that the word was like the others: just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear. 

Addie, page 172

The Bundren family lives in Mississippi in the 1930′s and they are preparing for the death of their matriarch, Addie.  Anse, Addie’s husband, has promised her that he will take her body to Jefferson and bury her with her kin.  This promise was easily made but not easily kept.  There were many obstacles in the way of the family’s journey and Anse and their five children had to band together to make the promise happen.

This is my first Faulkner novel and it was a unique reading experience.  Jason tried listening to the audio last year, but gave up and now I see why.  This book makes you work for it and I think listening to the audio in the car would be a difficult proposition.  There are 15 different narrators in this 261 page novel.  I started by writing each of them down for a reference as I was reading and even with that I totally missed who one of the important narrators was and cheated by checking online after I was done.  So, you really have to be one your toes!  And because of that I really think this books begs to be read in one sitting. Faulkner’s writing is spare, but beautiful, and it takes a few chapters to really get into the rhythm.  Once I got it I did not put the book down until I was done.

I liked it because of the innovative writing style, but wasn’t that crazy about the story itself.  The Bundren family is full of characters, but not necessarily any that I truly cared about.  Since I appreciated the writing I will definitely read Faulkner again, but only when I’m ready to devote some time and brain power to the reading.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by…Candice, Hannah, and Molly.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Faulkner is my favorite. This book is a great example of what I love about him. Makes you think, makes you laugh, makes you crazy.”  Molly

“Because this one is often read in high school English classes, but somehow you and I both missed out.”  Hannah

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August 25, 2010 - Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books |

27 Comments »

  1. “This book makes you work for it”

    I definitely agree with that statement! While I was reading, I periodically checked Spark Notes just to make sure I didn’t miss anything (and you can bet I did miss a few things). Overall, I thought it was definitely worth the extra effort.

    Comment by JoAnn | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • I thought it was worth it too. I’m glad I’m not the only one who had to use a ‘cheat’ sheet ;)

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. I have never read Faulkner and not sure that I will ever but I enjoyed reading about your experience with this author!

    Comment by Staci | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s a good book to try someday and see what all the fuss is about :)

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. I’m glad you stuck with it and found your rhythm. Did you find the Murphy’s Law humor or am I just a bit twisted? I personally have found this to be the easier of his stream of consciousness works to follow. The Sound & The Fury is most challenging – but also my favorite.

    I think Faulkner is meant to be re-read. Like those great movies with the big twists at the end that make you want to go back and rewind to watch it for all the details once you know the end result already.

    Comment by Bumble | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • I’ve read that The Sound & the Fury is more difficult so I’m glad I read this one! It was a bit Murphy Law-ish which is what made the story work.

      Thank you for recommending it because it would have been years before I got to it on my own. I can see why you are a Faulkner fan.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  4. I like your review, Stacy. I laughed happily when I saw it becuae I was just looking at thei Faulkner book in the store yesterday. He’s one author, classic author I haven’t read. I have heard he makes you work for it and that re-reading and re-reading gives you more from the story everytime. I don’t think it’s a good idea to read Faulkner while tackling Infinite Jest (for me anyway) but I’m going to put this book on my TBR list.

    ~ Amy

    Comment by Amy | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Yes, I think Infinite Jest is something to finish first :) I really look forward to seeing what you think of it!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  5. Sounds a little too tough for me, at least at this point. Just too many distractions.

    Comment by Carol | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • You definitely don’t want distractions.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  6. I must admit I read As I Lay Dying and I hated it. I didn’t like the unique narrative, disliked the characters, and I disliked the story. I really like Faulkner’s short stories, but can’t seem to make myself enjoy his novels.

    Comment by Laura's Reviews | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • I can totally see where you are coming from. I waited a few days before I reviewed it, so I could have a little distance. I really disliked it at first, but it did grow on me.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  7. I read The Sound and the Fury earlier this year and it took a lot of effort. I only really understood it because I had a study guide. This one sounds just as complicated. I’m not sure I’m ready to study another of his books yet, but you have intrigued me enough to add this to my list :-)

    Comment by Jackie (Farm Lane Books) | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • I heard this one is easier than The Sound and the Fury, so maybe having read the other first will make this one a breeze :)

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  8. I don’t think I’ll read this any time soon, since I’m not in the mood to work that hard at my reading. Thanks for your review.

    Comment by bermudaonion | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • No problem. I don’t mind working at my reading…as long as it’s not too often!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  9. I heard this was really depressing, but I do want to read it sometime.

    Comment by diane | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Well, it certainly not uplifting, but the tone is obvious from the beginning, so you know not to expect too much happiness.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  10. I’ve never attempted Faulkner … sounds like it does require you to pay attention and read slowly (but not to take breaks so you don’t forget). Also sounds like a book that would benefit from being in a classroom situation.

    Comment by Jenners | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • It would definitely be best read in a classroom first.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  11. This is one of those books that has been sitting on my shelf for sometime, but I’ve never had a real desire to read it. I don’t think I even bought it; I think it was given to me as a gift. Sounds like I was right to not jump on it.

    Comment by Trisha | August 25, 2010 | Reply

    • This would have sat on my shelf for much longer if I hadn’t let you all choose books for me to read this year. You are making me expand my literary horizons!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 25, 2010 | Reply

  12. Interesting review. Never read any Faulkner, but he is on the my eternal tbr. Maybe I’ll start with another work of his. Thanks :)

    Comment by jennygirl | August 26, 2010 | Reply

  13. I love this novel–the structure is brilliant. So much sparer than his other work, which is beautiful in a different way (but I have a lot more of him yet to read).

    Comment by ds | August 26, 2010 | Reply

  14. I want to read this! But I am not suer I am right now ready for the extra work :)

    Comment by Veens | August 26, 2010 | Reply

  15. It’s on my list of “Books to Read Before I Die” so I really appreciated your review!

    Comment by Alice Teh | August 31, 2010 | Reply

  16. This is my absolute favourite book! I especially love Addie’s section, and weirdly the quote at the top of your post is one I cherish.

    Glad you enjoyed it – so many people seem to miss the point of Faulkner. I’d recommend reading it again – I took so much more away from it the second time round!

    Comment by Little Interpretations | October 6, 2010 | Reply


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