I am currently reading "As I Lay Dying", a novel published in 1930, and written by William Faulkner. This the first Faulkner book that I remember ever reading. It is a challenging read. It is a unique style of writing, I believe in the stream of conciousness school. It is about a poor southern family. The plot centers around the death of Addie Bundren, matriarch of the family, and the manner in which the rest of the clan deals with her death. Addie's husband, Anse Bundren, had promised her that he would bury her in her hometown of Jefferson when she died. This is where the rest of Addie's family was buried. When Addie dies, toward the beginning of the novel, the family sets out to fulfill Anse's promise by travelling toward Jefferson. I am only two-thirds of the way through the book, so I am not yet sure how the trek will turn out. Currently, Anse and family, along with neighbor Vernon Tull, have encountered trouble at the river, which is flooded because of a large rainstorm. Anse is sure that nobody has worse luck than him, but he is determined thus far to fulfill his promise.

Often, Faulkner's sentences are not complete, or gramatically correct. This, I presume, is to reflect the true manner in which a poor family from the south would actually speak (or write) in the 1930s. What is interesting, is that sometimes the non-dialogue prose is written exactly like the diaglouge, with mispelled words and poor grammer. This is especially true when Faulkner is writing about a characters thoughts. However, other prose in the book is written with elegant vocabulary (I had to look some of the words up in the dictionary), even in some cases where the prose reflects the characters thoughts.

The book is written from the point of view of the characters, in turn. There has even been a chapter written from Addie's point of view, prior to her death. She explains, in some complexity, why she chose to marry Anse Bundren. It does not appear to have been a happy marriage, and the spirit of the novel is depressing. Most of the novel reflects a matter-of-fact attitude from the characters involved. Little emotion is displayed, except from the youngest child, Vardaman, and perhaps the daughter, Dewy Dell. (The names of the children are uncommon, interesting, and provokes one to think about how Faulkner chose the names)


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