Review: As I Lay Dying

Book Title: As I Lay Dying
Author: William Faulkner
Original Publication Date: 1930
Edition Read:
a very yellowed, falling apart Vintage Books (1964) paperback
Total Pages:
Classic Fiction
Reason Read:
Poor memory, a love for Faulkner and my mom
3 out of 5 Stars

“My mother is a fish.” ~ Vardaman (pg. 79) – also known as the shortest chapter ever.

I read this book a long time ago and decided to pick it up and read it again a few years ago since I love Faulner, but couldn’t remember anything about it other than it involved a dead lady being carted around and the fact that it always seems to make my mom laugh.

After re-reading, I would agree with my mom that this book does have it’s share of funny moments. I also find it funny that I read it over Mother’s Day – kind of a weird tribute to moms.

The story, written in 1930 and set in Mississippi (like all good Faulkner tales), essentially covers the last days of Addie Bundrun’s life and the efforts her family makes to cart her body to the town she came from and bury her there as she had requested. Murphy’s Law is all over this sorry bunch of Bundruns and bad timing causes all kinds of delays and calamities to the traveling party and the corpse.

Faulkner employs the stream of consciousness method throughout and though this may be off putting to some, I find it to be a powerful tool to reveal in bits and pieces the inner thoughts and souls of his characters. It is how having a conversation with yourself would sound – rushing through some thoughts so fast words get skipped over – and then stopping short mid-sentence when your train of thought runs smack into a revelation. It is probably the easiest of his books in this style to be exposed to.

The various characters provide their personal vantage points which jump around from one to the other, though overall the story is told chronologically. It seems simple enough of a tale, but it covers all sorts of stirring topics such as religion, sexuality, motherhood, and of course, death.

In the end, the book was entertaining and provides good food for thought. It is tempting to go right back and re-read it again while all the knowledge is still fresh. But then again, going along for the ride of confusion is half the fun with Faulkner.

About thebumbles

In addition to online Freelance Writing, Molly blogs about books on Quirky Girls Read and about everything else on The Bumbles Blog. Visit her often and let her know what you think! Unless you are a Yankee fan - then there might be a problem ;0)
This entry was posted in Classics, Fiction, Posts by Molly. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Review: As I Lay Dying

  1. I enjoyed this book when I read it several years ago. Still the only Faulkner I’ve read, though I plan to remedy that soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. ds says:

    Perhaps my favorite Faulkner–I just adore the structure and the tone of this one (the latter so different from his other books). Time for a re-read, methinks. Thank you.

  3. kaye says:

    that sounds kind of funny to me too.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I hated (HATED) The Sound and the Fury and thought I would never read Faulkner again. When I read As I Lay Dying I actually felt like Faulkner redeemed himself for me so I have a special place in my heart for this one. I know it isn’t brilliant but it made me believe again and I hate being cynical!

    • thebumbles says:

      Kudos to you for giving an author another chance and for being rewarded as a result. Sorry that you hated my favorite, but it is one of those that evokes strong reactions on either end of the spectrum – very little middle ground.

  5. I have never read this author, probably because just his name alone intimidates me 😀

    • thebumbles says:

      He has written in a variety of styles – something for everyone – more mainstream and also new and inventive. Never let buzz intimidate you or limit your reading.

  6. Margot says:

    I haven’t read a Faulkner novel since a school assignment. (I know, it’s pathetic.) He’s on my list for a re-read as he’s the winner of Pulitzers, National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize.

  7. stacybuckeye says:

    I read this one and didn’t love it. Not sure If I’ll read another FAulkner soon, but I’ll keep Sound & Fury in mind.

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