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"For range of effect, philosophical weight, originality of style, variety of characterization, humor, and tragic intensity, [Faulkner's works] are without equal in our time and country". (Robert Penn Warren)
If you are a fan of William Faulkner you will enjoy this…
The reading captures the southern way of speaking in such a way that makes the surface of the Faulkner story somehow even more rich…
The ending. This was a challenge and I felt like giving up at times, but the last act was satisfying.
They sounded exactly like you'd expect the characters to sound. I'm not from the South, though, so I can't vouch for the authenticity.
I got angry at times listening to this. It was hard to know what was going on. Frankly, I benefited a lot by consulting SparkNotes. I was close to throwing in the towel on this, but, well, I kinda wanted to say I've read a few Faulkners, so I kept at it. It was a good decision because the characters and the story grew on me.
I've listened to many audiobooks, this was definitely one of the more challenging ones. Had to hit the rewind button quite often.
A Must Read!
What can you say besides "Faulkner at his best". A great novel of life and love and tragedy.
Three words cannot do it justice
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
I grew up in Mississippi in the 1970s and 80s. I knew of people like the Bundrens.
If you haven't read this book, the Bundrens are a family (a dad, 4 brothers and a sister) taking their mom (alive for a small part of the book) to be buried about 20 miles away in Jefferson (her wish). Problem is, the river has just flooded (timely here in lower Alabama) and the bridges are out.
They must deal with flood (crossing a flooded river), fire, mental health and other bodily issues (to say more is to give a spoiler) on their way by wagon to bury Moma.
It is told from the perspectives of each member of the family and friends and a hypocritical preacherman. Parts of it are hilarious and parts are downright sad. The father reminds me of why it is so hard to break free of the interrelated chains of family and poverty and, to a certain degree, ignorance.
I give the performance 3 stars for the narrated voice of Vardaman (the character who is still a kid) and, because of his age, he views his mother's death through warped eyes (e.g., "My mother is a fish"). Probably as a coping mechanism and partly because of the trauma of losing a mom and living with a father like Anse Bundren. The narrator, on the other hand, portrayed Vardaman as an idiot.
Warning: Do NOT watch James Franco's movie prior to reading the book. Watching the father for even part of that movie will likely disgust you to the point you cannot read further. Contrary to Franco, apparently, I never took from Faulkner's book that he intended dad to be viewed as mentally disabled.
I liked Faulkner's compassion for characters to whom many people who read literary wouldn't give much more than the time of day. I also liked Faulkner's originality and his ability to make local matters universal.
I can think of a coupler of recent English novels that owe a debt to As I Lay Dying: The Hide by Barry Unsworth and Last Orders by Graham Swift, which was made into a movie with some good acting in it. Faulkner influenced Carson McCullers and numerous other Americans, including Paul Harding, who recently won a Pulitzer Prize for Tinkers. As for predecessors, how about The Spoon River Anthology.
This is the first time I've heard this team. I thought they read clearly and with expressiveness.
Parts of it made me laugh. No tears here.
Will Patton's Light in August narration is wonderful. Someone who can do an authentic Southern accent would have been better here.
The Southern accents adopted by the narrators were rather awful and quite distracting at times as the actors struggled and missed. The actor who reads Vardaman, the little boy, does catch these sections well, however, and rendered them in a very moving way.
The novel itself is a classic of the twentieth century, and a tragicomic masterpiece.
It was near the top.
Tobacco Road, because they both deal with a poor rural southern family. However in this case the family seems to genuinely care about each other and are not starving.
Yes, I had insomnia one night and listened to the entire book
Faulkner is difficult for me to understand without a study guide. Following it with a study guide it was an enjoyable experience.
I think the prose of Faulkner's work is beautiful and could be beautifully read by the right narrator. The narrators of this particular recording drove me crazy. I couldn't listen for more than 15 minutes at a time and have finally given up on trying to finish it. I have listened to at least 100 books and this was by far the worst narration.
Retired teacher. Hometown: Eden, NY.
William Faulkner wrote his fifth novel, AS I LAY DYING, in only six weeks in 1929. It was published after very little editing in 1930. The novel tells the story of the Bundren family traveling to bury their dead mother. The novel is famous for its experimental narrative technique, which Faulkner began in his earlier book, THE SOUND AND THE FURY. Fifteen characters take turns narrating the story in streams of consciousness over the course of fifty-nine, sometimes overlapping sections.
At the time, Faulkner’s novel contributed substantially to the growing Modernist movement. He was no doubt influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud, whose theories about the subconscious were made increasingly popular in the 1920s. Faulkner’s novel regards subconscious thought as more important than conscious action or speech; long passages of italicized text within the novel would seem to reflect these inner workings of the mind. His prolific career in writing is marked by his 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature and two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 1955 and the other in 1962.
AS I LAY DYING is the story of the Bundren family who live in Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Addie and Anse Bundren have five children: Darl, Jewel, Cash, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman.
The Bundren family is extremely poor, and Addie is terminally ill. Cash Bundren builds his mother’s coffin, and while Darl and Jewel are visiting a neighbor, Addie dies. The youngest son, Vardaman, is extremely distressed at his mother’s death. This trauma stems from the large fish he has just caught and cleaned, breaking it down into pieces which he no longer sees as fish. Thus he decides that his mother in death is no longer his mother, or even a person, but something that does not truly exist any longer… the fish.
Being so upset at his mother’s death and the fact that she is now nailed in a box, he drills holes in it for her and accidentally drills her face. While the others are mourning the death of Addie, her daughter Dewey Dell is distracted by her unwanted (and unknown to others) pregnancy by a local farm hand named Lafe.
Addie had requested she be buried in Jefferson, which is a grueling trek for the family to make, but Anse decides they must do it. The family sets off on their journey in a wagon pulled by mules, and loses or trades just about everything they own along the way.
The story is told from the point of view of all the characters, including the post-humus Addie, and many carefully-guarded secrets are revealed. The Bundrens encounter several obstacles on their journey, including the near-loss of Addie more than once. It is mostly through the interior monologues that we gradually absorb the psychologically complex personality of each character. The inevitable conclusion is that everyone has skeletons in the closet, and will go to incredible lengths to conceal them.
This is not a happy novel. Dark themes of identity, reality, death, poverty, suffering, religion, family, isolation, and sanity are shadowed on every page.
There is one especially intrusive theme which demands particular mention: the major theme of the absurdity of life. The main event in the novel, the family journey to Jefferson to bury Addie, is a huge joke, reminding the reader that life is indeed absurd - nothing more, nothing less. Addie wants the family to bring her body to Jefferson, not because she truly wants to be buried there but because she wants her family to make that pointless journey as a means of revenge for forcing her to live the boring domesticated life that she has lived for so long. The entire event is a pointless journey with no meaning whatsoever. Addie intensely felt that absurdity, and thus it was her final joke to make the family do something with no rhyme or reason to prove her point.
No discussion of William Faulkner is complete without an example of the naked beauty of the prose and poetry found within the interior thinking of his characters:
“I believed that I had found it. I believed that the reason was the duty to the alive, to the terrible blood, the red bitter flood boiling through the land. I would think of sin as I would think of the clothes we both wore in the world’s face, of the circumspection necessary because he was he and I was I; the sin the more utter and terrible since he was the instrument ordained by God who created the sin, to sanctify that sin He had created. While I waited for him in the woods, waiting for him before he saw me, I would think of him as dressed in sin.”
~~ Addie Bundren, describing her adultery.
Finally, if this review has stimulated you to visit or revisit Faulkner, but you have reservations predicated on negative comments by others, I urge you to consider AS I LAY DYING, one of his most accessible and rewarding novels. Having done my Master’s thesis on Faulkner in 1969, I daresay I have at least an average familiarity with his works. Forty-three years later that familiarity has been deepened by Audible’s four-narrator tour de force of this book. To experience the visual richness of style, consider reading a print version while you listen.
(Incidentally, my Vintage Books edition cost $1.65 in 1969!)
First, I'm a diehard Faulkner fan. However, the performance here truly does him a disservice. To get the full flavor of Faulkner's prose, listen to Grover Gardner's performance of Absolam, Absolam! Or Joe Barrett's performance of The Hamlet.
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