Title: As I Lay Dying (Goodreads)
Author: William Faulkner
Published: Vintage, 1930
My Copy: Kindle
Literary Achievements: Modern Library 100 Best Novels
Buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Kindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
As I Lay Dying is a classic American novel that was written by William Faulkner. This book follows the journey of fifteen different characters as they set out to fulfil the wishes of the recently deceased Addie Bundren who is to be buried in Jefferson. Faulkner shifts between the fifteen narrators throughout book, one of them is even the deceased, who is expressing her thoughts from the coffin. As the book continues you can see the characters develop with each narrator’s perceptions and opinions.
This book is best known for its stream of consciousness writing technique which can be one of the biggest struggles with this book. It’s a dense read and if you don’t pay enough attention and try to delve deep into this book you will struggle to enjoy it. I made the mistake of starting reading book out as like a novel and it took me a while to pull myself up and approach this novel in the right mindset. But eventually I did start enjoying this book for what it is; and that is as a piece of literature that helped pioneer the stream of consciousness narrative and the interior monologue.
Faulkner was never an easy author to read but I hear this is his most accessible novel so I’m worried about reading anything else of his. I did enjoy exploring his literary style and just seeing the techniques he used for this novel but this really isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun read. There are some interesting characters in As I Lay Dying and some very ironic and dark elements to the story. As for the plot and scenery I did find it lacking but that really wasn’t what Faulkner was trying to achieve.
William Faulkner has famously said that he wrote the novel in six weeks and that he did not change a word of it. This in itself is a pretty impressive statement but if you look at the techniques and the novel as an overall piece of high literature, this statement is more impressive that I originally thought; it makes me feel like a failure. As I Lay Dying is not going to be for everyone, it is a dense novel but for lovers of literature it is interesting to dive into something that has been analysed deeply. I’m not going to go into this side of the book because I doubt I could really do it justice. The style of this book is interesting, the prose is worth a deeper look and overall this book is just fascinating.