Saturday, August 21, 2010

Books I'm Not Reading: The Sound and the Fury

At least I'm not reading a classic this time.

For the last few years we've driven through Mississippi to get to Florida and each time, on that highway south of Memphis headed towards Oxford, I've thought about William Faulkner. We've never had time to divert our path over to his home but it was enough to know I was traveling through the very country he wrote about and imagine how this land he wrote about had probably greatly changed. Would he recognize any of it if he were alive? (I know, I know, the joke is if Faulkner were alive he'd be trying to claw his way out of his casket. Hardy har.) I'd think I really need to go back and re-read some of his books - way back when, I'd managed to work my way through all of his available work and it might be high time to re-visit them.

Well, now's not that time it turns out. Sure, I'm a fool to have chosen The Sound and the Fury, one of his most challenging works, but I could've done harder: Absalom, Absalom is far more difficult though I'm not sure if it's any more rewarding. Maybe I should've gone with something more accessible. No, the problem isn't the difficulty of the book - I actually enjoy the notorious stream-of-conscious narrative of the idiot, Benjy, and have not trouble following the storyline; the problem is that I really don't care right now. I have other things I'd like to read and I've already been over this ground. Not that I don't want to go back; I just don't want to go back right now. Fifty or so pages was enough to convince me that there's nothing new here for me, though I envy the first time reader who manages to unlock the magic of this book and his others. Faulkner is an American treasure who deserves to be read but unless you're a college professor, or student, I don't see the need to re-visit him.

Still, it's a lovely right through Mississippi. If you haven't been, you really should go.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read Faulkner since college but I would like to visit Mississippi one day and just as you say, via the routes along the river. In middle school I had a friend from Mississippi who spoke with that inimitable accent they have down there. That's kinda what I want to find down there along with the enriched poverty that gave us the blues.