"The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner

I freely admit that I haven’t read any of Faulkner’s novels - only his short stories - but I’ve been meaning to read him for the longest. Recently I decided I wanted to get acquainted with his novels. This is a very difficult book. It’s difficult because of its structure - non-linear, experimental, you have to be on your toes to follow what is essentially a very simple story about the tragic coming apart of an aristocratic southern family in Mississippi. The structure of this novel is so bizarre that its easy to get lost of you’re not really paying attention. Time lines interweave, character points of view change without warning, (sometimes italicized, sometimes not), sometimes within the same paragraph or even sentence. It is a ballsy experiment for a book that was written in the late 1920s. That was kind of shocking to me. From what I read of Faulkner, his work was always more conventional, albeit very well written. This was something else and I had to wonder while reading it what the reaction must have been at the time.

 

There are novels written today that do not dare approach themselves in this way. Yet, despite it all, and if you don’t lose it along the way, what you get is a damn good story, one that you cannot easily synopsize due to the stream of consciousness writing, non-linear way its presented. But essentially - and what I think makes this novel so good - is the fact that the story itself is very simple. Faulkner also has a tendency to write very long sentences. Very long, sometimes going on for pages, without any punctuation. You almost have to insert them yourself in order to follow along without it becoming a mess at times. But it’s well worth the effort. Half way through I didn’t think I would make it but I persevered and I’m glad I did. If you haven’t read him at all, I wouldn’t start with this one due to its highly experimental nature. But do read it. It’s a wonderful book.

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