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Showing 1-10 of 576 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,413 reviews
on April 21, 2014
If you were raised in the South, you may get chills reveling in Faulkner's evocative words "the twilight-colored smell of honeysuckle." You know exactly what this means, how wonderful it is to the senses and the almost-haunting, hazy memories it stirs in you of people long in your past or passed on. This novel was the most difficult I've read, but the most rewarding once I did the work required to know how to read it, and understood its structure and meanings.

I never thought I could read it; I tried 30 years ago, 19 years ago, 10 years after that, before I finally finished it a couple of years ago. When I picked it up, I concluded quickly that Faulkner must be a sadist to write anything like the first 10 pages. I read it twice and I was no better off the second time as I was the first go-round. I had absolutely no clue what the heck was going on, the sentences were disjunctive, the thoughts scrambled, the characters were dropping in then disappearing, it seemed to change time frames without any recognizable order so I had no sense of time and, ultimately, I had forgotten why it was, exactly, that I had bought the damned thing in the first place!

Oh yeah, I told myself. You want to read Mr. Mint Juleps from that Rowan Oak plantation home up in Oxford. You believe that by doing that you are proving maybe once and for all time that you too can escape the past of this State in which you were raised and of these ghosts that you find despicable, this hate you had no part of, these white sheets, fulgent from the flames above them but burned by the evil beneath, these ignorant men who were passed down hatred as heirlooms to hand down to their sons and their daughters. You think if you can make it through this man's novels it will show that you are more intelligent than what people from afar believe you to be, that you are not like the rednecks you see every day but burst from within to bound over, that you are not like your mother's father who you worshiped, a business man and deacon in the town's largest Southern Baptist church, who you remember using the N word once as you sat beside him at 7 as he was driving from downtown Natchez (the home of my forefathers), a town on the mighty Mississippi River filled with beautiful antebellum plantation homes and scattered with remnants of slavery and a segregated past before you were born, the town in which your mother is now buried 10 feet from her father. And your mother, God bless her, along with your father, raised you not to hate, nor to judge, and for that you believe you have been blessed.

After she was buried, you finally got the gumption to make it all the way through this knotty novel by that iconic author from the northern corner of your home state of Mississippi. It took a paperback, an electronic companion guide and an audible version to make it through and understand that you needed to read this book, that it was crucial as one more molting of the skin of your past, one more step away from the sins of the fathers, one further step away from that past for my children and hopefully their children.

I did it.
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on June 8, 2016
This was not by any stretch of imagination an easy book to read. The stream of consciousness style, the way that Faulkner gives voice to each character in their own unique narrative, the themes of bitterness, racism, depression, family, morality and overall decline and the often heart-breaking perspectives from each member of the Compson family makes for a book that is gut-wrenching and sometimes awful. But... very few writers have the ability to bring life into their words the way that Faulkner does. This is not a third person account of a family gone to ruin - it is a riveting, raw recounting told from all angles. It may leave you feeling tight in the chest, but it will stay on your mind for a very long time after you finish the last page.
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HALL OF FAMEon January 29, 2012
This is the first William Faulkner book I've ever read. It won't bet the last. This man was a genius. He creates word pictures that depict a time and a place and a people with excruciating and artistic realness and paints pictures with his words that will long resonate after the book is finished.

Set in a rural Mississippi town in the early 1930s and peopled with a variety of characters who will live in my memory forever, the story follows a young and pregnant teenager who is looking for her lover with the hope of marriage. Instead she meets a hardworking and unattractive man who falls in love with her helps her to find a place to stay. In the meantime her actual lover and father of her unborn child is selling bootleg whisky and sharing a cabin with a man named Christmas who is part negro and is bedding a wealthy woman who dies when her house is set on fire. There's also a defrocked pastor with problems of his own and the pathetic grandparents of the man named Christmas who is in danger of being lynched.

The book, however, is more than the sum of its parts. It is the worldview that typifies William Faulkner at his finest and even though there are parts of the book that a bit overwritten and confusing, I still give it my highest recommendation and advise readers to not miss the experience of reading this fine author.
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on July 30, 2014
Faulkner. As a Southerner one must pay homage. If you are considering purchasing this book not as a requirement for some college course but for pleasure, curiosity, then you must already know something about Faulkner and the place this book has in the canon of American Literature. Well deserved placement. Much easier to read than The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. But, they are more memorable struggles. Great characters. Much more of a straight up story. Hopeful perserverance is a good descrpition. So much, so sad but inevitable.The language is the real allure, of course :

"Though the mules plod in a steady and unflagging hypnosis, the vehicle does not seem to progress. It seems to hang suspended in the middle distance forever and forever, so infinitesimal is its progress, like a shabby bead upon the mild red string of road."

"And now he knows that she is watching him: the gray woman not plump not thin, manhard, workhard, in a serviceable gray garment worn savage and brusque, her hands on her hips, her face like those of generals who have been defeated in battle. 'You men,' she says."

"His voice sounds light, trivial, like a thistle bloom falling into silence without a sound, without any weight."

"Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders."
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on June 16, 2016
Read as a student assignment the book would be, and often is, a torment for most students. It is quite simply a difficult read: chronology modulates with only the vaguest hint, the read is not a “story”, at least not in the conventional sense. The reader ‘absorbs’ the story-line through inference and innuendo and occasionally extrapolation. The characters are veiled, shadowy and obscure. "Caddy smells like trees": the 'thoughts' of the mentally diminished Benjy - ring throughout the read, subtly 'whispering' part of the plot.

There are two turning points: 1st the one that the reader passes when she or he decides to continue the read despite the instinct to quit, and the 2nd (for me about halfway through the book) when there is the realization of the utter brilliance of the author for his bold method and subtle presentation and his intricate linking of the characters.

It is about good and selfish, and honest and deceitful, and tradition and loyalty in Faulkner’s South back in the 1920’s. And if that is a very odd description of a “plot” - and it is - it is because traditional plot and story-line are very unorthodox in this brilliant novel. And don't expect Faulkner to 'hand it to' you in the closing pages - pay attention on every page... and expect to have to reread.
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on June 20, 2017
This may be the worst book I've ever read. The story isn't bad, but the way it's told is unnecessarily baffling. Faulkner is trying to make a statement about how people perceive reality differently, which is an interesting theme, but he does it in such a crappy way. He rotates between 15 different narrators over the course of the 59 chapters. The problem with this is he does nothing to help the reader understand what's happening. Each character who narrates focuses on different things and places greater importance on some events than others, but it makes the continuous narrative a great chore to follow. The characters are well developed, the plot is okay, the dialogue is accurate, but the writing style is absolute crap. Honestly, this book could have been great, but because Faulkner would rather be "smart" or as I call it, "pretentious and stupid," this book is a complete failure.
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on December 28, 2014
This was my first Faulkner novel and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to give Faulkner a try! While it is difficult initially to keep track of all the characters, a quick google search for a character list helped me keep everyone straight. Each chapter is written from a character's perspective and it does jump around some! This is a book you really have to pay attention to as you read, though, or you may find yourself quickly lost! I found this book to be a great intro to Faulkner's writing style and would recommend!
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on August 21, 2014
I haven't read Faulkner since high school, when I read some of his stories and tried unsuccessfully to get through "The Sound and the Fury." "Light in August" was challenging, but less so than some of some of his other novels with multiple narrators. The book did jump around a lot in time and place. The story was disturbing, especially in its depiction of the seldom-challenged racism and violence of the Jim Crow South (the book takes place in the 1920's, with some of the older characters having childhood memories of the Civil War). Sometimes the historical truth hurts. There were several fascinating characters that keep you wanting to read more.
It should be noted that I read a bargain-basement Kindle edition that had numerous typos, although none of them made the book harder to understand; they were just mildly annoying. I would assume that the full-priced edition is much cleaner.
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on January 2, 2016
I mean, its one of the classics. I personally didn't care for it a lot. It very much feels like Faulkner was attempting to write a novel knowing what he needed to do so people would talk about it. If you are familiar with who Faulkner was as a person then this type of pretension makes sense. It lacks the wholeness that makes Gatsby so wonderful. It feels like Faulkner is attempting to make the deeply flawed characters of Sun Also Rises, but lack the ability to actually pull it off, instead just making the characters almost pointlessly odd and hard to figure out. But, that's just, like, my opinion man. Still kind of fun.
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on October 9, 2012
Here are some notes I jotted down while reading "As I Lay Dying":
1. Faulkner sets down the thoughts and feelings of several people, mostly members of the Bundren family. The comments of the characters aren't hard to follow but they can make you think.
2. Faulkner was a natural story-teller. One expert on his work I recently encountered said that he took a lot from the oral tradition of the southern U. S. I found this comment useful, since I've recently been wondering how Faulkner's work came to be. He hadn't much post-secondary education, most northerners like me don't think of the rural south as having a great literary tradition, and Faulkner seems more an individualist than a member of a literary group. Many came after him -- Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty,and Flannary O'Connor. For now, I must be content to recognize Faulkner's stories as gifts.
3. "As I Lay Dying" if a good place to start if Faulkner's work is new to you. He has a way of bringing together humor, pathos, tragedy, and the nobility of human life. All of that is here.
4. To put the above point another way, Faulkner's explorations of his characters takes us along a range of expression -- from down-to-earth to reaching for words to describe our mistakes, our sharpest perplexities, and also our joys, our hopes, our resilience and our ability to keep on going.
5. I know that Faulkner's novels and stories have their detractors, but to me he had a remarkable gift for entering the lives and struggles of worldly people who don't tell their own stories and describing their situations with fairness, originality, and exquisite compassion.
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