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Reviews of As I Lay Dying (1930)

Review by spiphany (2003-11-10)
The main difficulty about As I Lay Dying is keeping things straight at the beginning. Half a dozen characters alternate narration of chapters, each discussing whatever they happen to be thinking about, and it takes a while before the reader really understands who the characters are and what's going on. I think this is one reason many people dislike Faulkner or find him too hard to read. Faulkner doesn't tell the reader anything; the reader has to work at it, and since most people read for relaxation or pleasure, they aren't willing to do that.
As I Lay Dying is also a rather disturbing book. I think Faulkner intended it to be somewhat unsettling. It makes the reader think. At any rate, it is not always an entirely pleasant book, a combination of the faint feeling of vouyerism associated with seeing into other people's thoughts, and the sickening queerness of the characters.
That said, As I Lay Dying is by no means an inaccessible book. If the reader is prepared for some of the difficult spots, there is no reason why he cannot appreciate it, at least understand it, even if not enjoy it.
I can't say whether I liked this book or not. I read this book for English class, and still find myself rather bewildered by it. Certainly I wouldn't say it was a waste of time, it was an - interesting - experience, and Faulkner's writing, once you get into it, is very intense. The effect - brief, vivid glimpses into events seen through many pairs of eyes - is rather like a gourmet dinner, small, flavorful portions one after another combining into a rich, almost sensuous whole.

Review by nui6882 (2003-07-19)
This book is brilliant. The morbid story of the Bundren family's quest to move the corpse of the dead matriarch, Addie. The family blindly moves her rotting body down the Mississippi for burial. The bizzare nature of the plot is almost disguised in the language, the simple rationalizations that the family gives for this weird trip give deep insights into characters that stick in my mind years after reading this book. The imagery is fantastic. This is an amazing book, and I heartily reccommend it.
My mother is a fish.

Review by mikeymckay (2003-07-18)
A very strange book.

Written by William Faulkner. His gimmick is to have each chapter in the story told by a different character. This makes for a unlinear unravelling of the plot. Unfortunately it also makes it really difficult to understand what is going on. It is made particularly difficult because most (the story is told by more than 10 people) of the characters in the story are uneducated and barely literate. Hence their ability to make logical connections or even complete sentences hinders the telling of the story.

This is no accident of course. Faulkner's story follows a pioneer family in the 1800s whose matriarch has died and they are all going through the process of grieving and burying her. One of her requests was to be buried near her parents which is a long wagon ride away. Despite a storm that has taken out all of the required bridges, no food, and a little boy who goes crazy and drills a hole through the coffin and his mother, they set out and are constantly followed by vultures.

There are other plots too. One of the girls is pregnant I can't even remember what happens to it all in the end.

All in all a pretty revolting picture of prairie life, done with quite the creative although confusing flair.




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