Monday, January 31, 2011

William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying

"There is a chapter in this book that consists entirely of the following line: 'My mother is a fish.' I've been telling myself since high school that I need to give this one another try, but then I remember that chapter. I don't plan on reading it again any time soon."

"I know you're 'supposed to' love this book because it's Faulker, but I HATED IT! I know you're 'cool' and 'intelligent' if you read Faulkner, but I can't stand him. Sorry, I don't know what he's talking about (and at the risk of sounding immodest, I am bright). I DON'T think it's cool and 'hip' to write in a confusing manner, and I don't try to impress others by liking ambiguity. I had my fill in college with snobs who pretended to like this stuff. Sorry I sound harsh here (I'm really a nice person), but YUK!"

"'My mother is a fish.' w.t.f."

"I prefer to call this book 'As I Lay Dying...of Boredom, Reading This Book'. That's what it is: boring.

The plot, such as it is, is simple. There's a family that lives in the Deep South of Mississippi or somewhere like that in a ridiculously-hard-to-pronounce county. The mother dies, and the family decides to take the body to a far-off city, where she has requested to be buried. So the book is basically them trying to get the mother's body to this cemetery in Jefferson, an interminable journey filled with approximately 20 different yet identical-souding narrators who are not interesting in any way whatsoever. Actually, there is ONE narrator you can identify without needing the chapter titles, and that is Cora, the Christian lady. She's easy to tell from the others because she mentions God once every two sentences.

This book is probably the worst book I have ever read, and I have read MANY books. I just could not care about these people, because they all sounded alike and did ridiculous things, such as:

- calling their mother a fish
- talking in short, simple sentences with basic words, then suddenly launching into poetic and polysyllabic rapture upon seeing the sunset
- setting their son's broken leg with CEMENT (I kid you not)
- NARRATING FROM THE GRAVE (I'm looking at YOU, Addie Bundren)

This book is the reason I refuse to read anything by William Faulkner. Perhaps his other work is better. I don't know and I don't care to find out."

"The only remotely happy occurrence in the book was that Dewey Dell was expecting."

"I can see why people like this book, as it the action is simple, and yet the symbolism is rather complex. To be honest, I did not enjoy this book. The prose is far too self indulgently arty and yet completely devoid of any epiphany inducing insights into human nature. All in all, I find this book to have a sickeningly pessimistic view of human nature as a whole. If there is anything that can be taken away from this book, it is that human beings are scum. I personally do not share this belief. The writing style is purposely ambiguous and leads the reader to discover symbolism that is contradicted later on in the story, which in turn is contradicted again. I find that aside from Cash, these characters are so unbearably unstable and utterly diverse in their ramblings that it is difficult to remember exactly who is monologuing. I find it disturbing also that I seem to be the only one I know who actually understood it. They either scoff at it and say that it's too repetitive and fail to realize the symbolism, or absolutely love it because they interpreted it in such a way that it could be mistaken as a great work. I considered each interpretation and decided that a book with this much meaning and yet in the grand scheme of literature says nothing is a waste of words. I believe this book to emphasize, nay, personify the disgusting drivel that American Literature has become. I shall not be reading Falkner again and shall return to Skaldic and Norse literature very soon. GOOD DAY"

"What can I say 'My mother is a fish'"

"By the time i reached the last quarter of the book, Faulkner was at least writing language that made sense. Most of the time, it was either ridiculously simple, in a 'country-boy' hillbilly way, or just distastefully packed full of words that the average person would rarely use, and often more than likely couldn't even define. It seems that Faulkner likes to hear himself talk, throwing in as many three and four syllable words as he can fit into a sentence."

"Dewey Dell is a slut. An irresponsible slut."

"Faulkner writes in jargon he understands with little to no respect for the reader and I can't forgive him for it. If you don't believe me then write something. Write a short story. Write 3, or 4, or 5 pages. Flesh out the characters and their histories and their conflicts. Got it? Okay, now when you are writing a scene with multiple people use only the pronoun he. You will know who you are talking about - do we? Is that good writing? No, it isn't."

"I don't care if Faulkner is a classic. I HATE this book. I think it's chapter 13 that is simply 'my mother is a fish'."

"I liked this book okay until towards the end. Then I thought to myself, "I don't like this book." Jewel has a potty mouth."

"My mother is a fish?"

"My mother is a fish?!?"

"Oh and I almost forgot 'My Mother is a Fish.' WTF?"

"quite possibly the worst book I've ever read. Only redeeming quality? 'my mother is a fish' and there you go."


  1. I have to agree with the fellows here.... Faulkner does indeed suck.

    Stream of consciousness is just a way to put a good label on crap. Hell, one could easily argue that "rap" is the same thing as the stream of consciousness narrative style.

    Take this as a person who dominated upper div english courses at a top 10 university..... the entire basis of literature academia is just pathetic. Since there is such an emphasis on the classics, new works are often shunned or never researched. Thus, you're left with a predicament, how are you furthering the knowledge of literature if you keep clinging to these archaic pieces of writing?

    Simple, you're inventing bullshit for theses. In fact, this is the same thing most students do for their english classes. We came up with bullshit, found pieces of "evidence" that support our bullshit, and wrote a paper on bullshit. Now how do we get away with this? The academic community emphasizes the literature of those WHO ARE ALREADY DEAD. THUSLY, WE CAN NEVER GET A CONFIRMATION OR DENIAL OF THIS BULLSHIT. So as long as there is never an answer to these bullshit papers/theses, they can continue, uninterrupted.

    Get real, and study something that will help society evolve.

  2. here here!!!
    good show chap.
    I was listening to this as an audiobook and not getting it...getting angered by it...glad to hear some other thoughts on it.
    What really goosed my nipples was the 'country' people and talk. Educated, well to do people have no business writing about 'simple, hard life' while mocking the language. Nobody afterwards has any reason to read it or think that's acceptable.
    It really says something about people who like this book. They are so detached from the classes below them (or they wish to be) that they feel the need to pretend they have a kinship with the lower classes and feel their pain. But's in a way that very specifically says they are so far from that lower class that they feel comfortable enough to mock them and have a petty, one sided, heart to heart with them.
    fuck faulkner.

  3. I was forced to read this book in high school. I thought it was totally depressing and I was bored beyond belief. I have to say that this is the worst book I've ever read and I did not enjoy any of it. I was happy when we moved on the next book, A Tale of Two Cities--now, that was a great book! Maybe I am just not a Faulkner fan.

  4. I agree with all of you. Right now, I'm trying to read Light in August and have dozed off for more than three times. He's too wordy. He rambles on and on and on like no one I've ever read before. My take is that this guy had so little to say that he became an expert in form in order to hide that sad fact. I read Sanctuary and found it dull, pretentious, repetitive, and disgusting. Finally, I don't get one single emotion out of reading him. My heart is dulled by his writing. This is something that had never happened to me. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how this guy received a Nobel Prize.