Rating: 2/5 stars.
When I first heard of As I Lay Dying, I imagined a grand romance with star-crossed lovers fighting to stay together until the very end. I imagined a more mature Juliet calling out to Romeo to rescue her from her imminent doom, and I imagined a bittersweet ending bathed in pathos and poignancy. I expected an epic story featuring several deep themes: love, loss, heartbreak.
Well, now I know not to judge a book by its title.
As I Lay Dying is actually about the Bundren family, a messy group of uncouth Southerners who embark on a journey to Jefferson to bury their wife and mother, Addie. On the way they encounter difficulties ranging from storms to broken body parts, and their ambitions are tested accordingly.
I could justify any star rating for this book, but I based my two-star rating on how much I personally enjoyed it. For the first fifty pages I felt annoyed because of Faulkner’s lackluster, seemingly pretentious writing. However, when I got deeper into the story and the symbolism started to seep in, I appreciated how there was so much happening that wasn’t written on the page. The steam of consciousness style employed by Faulkner adds a layer of difficulty to the narration. Characters shares their immediate thoughts as events occur, which was confusing, but by the end I loved the reciprocity of how certain plot points and character developments were revealed.
While from a literary standpoint As I Lay Dying is worthy of all its lauds, I didn’t love it. None of the characters were particularly praiseworthy and the themes of the novel, while interesting, weren’t as mind-blowing as the ones incorporated into other books I’ve read. Recommended to those who are fans of stream of consciousness and want to try Faulkner for the first time – I’ve heard that his other books are much more difficult to comprehend.