I have finally come to a point at which my eyes can read this text without seeing a bunch of scribbly scratches. Granted, I am sitting a foot away from my laptop. Dilation can mess up a good night of reading and writing; and it can give you bowling balls for pupils–score some strikes with these puppies…
When not handicapped by dilation; however I divulge in the classiest of literature, the creme de la creme of writing–the works of William Faulkner. Did you know he is called the greatest writer of the twentieth century? I mean, Hemingway was good, but…I guess no one likes him.
Recently I have started reading As I Lay Dying, disputed to be his most popular and symbolic work; aside of course from The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! This is turning out to be a faithful claim. The story is entertaining–it is also quite sad–and the characters are diverse.
Allow me a little aside to mention the extra detail put into these characters. As it is told from multiple first person perspectives the story is separated into three or four page chapters in which the characters–each with their own writing style–describe the conflicts. You catch that? Each character has their own writing style, their own favorite words. And their personalities are brilliantly sketched out through their usage of Southern dialect, such as in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and stream-of-consciousness description.
With that stream-of-consciousness technique comes mild confusion when first experiencing this novel; know you will become lost in the beginning chapters and be forced to read a lengthy passage a second or third time for understanding. That, and the descriptions and the dialogue tend to mix, making for a puzzling shift between perspectives.
As well there are at least seven characters, seven characters with difficult names switching perspectives at random moments in the story; so if Leo Tolstoy is your favorite writer, then this novel is a guaranteed hit.
Always the thing to draw from Faulkner is his writing style because it is so ruggedly refined. When reading you can tell he created the voice so frequently imitated by Twain and Steinbeck; and it is mastered in As I Lay Dying. The Southern family sounds like a Southern family; the setting looks like a Southern background.
Be sure to pick him up if you have the chance.
And if you have the chance, or the choice, never get dilated. It feels like meat patties on the eyes.