Saturday, March 8, 2014

As I Lay Dying ~ William Faulkner

There's something about Faulkner that I really like, but I can't put my finger on it.  I've only read two of his novels but I guess it's the quirkiness of the characters, and the secrets that come out during the telling of the story, that grabs my attention.

Addie Bundren is dying, her husband and children are waiting around for her to die, which is her wish. Her son Cash is out in the yard making her coffin which is also her wish.  Her final wish though is to be buried in Jefferson with 'her people', and basically this is what the novel is about.  We follow this hillbilly family to Jefferson to bury their mother, but it's not an easy journey and Addie will be several days dead before she is finally laid to rest.

During the journey we find out that Addie and her husband Anse were not happily married nor great parents, that one son is not Anse's biological son, their only daughter is not as pure as she seems and another son is dangerously mad.  

As I lay Dying is told from the viewpoint of fifteen different characters, including the deceased Addie.  I'm not usually a fan of using different narrators, but it works in this novel especially when the antics of the family are viewed by a more sane narrator.  It is by turns both funny and sad.

Jame's Franco's movie adaptation of the novel is quite stunning.  Using the split screen device he is able to capture the multi-narrator point of view for several of the scenes, and in others he has the characters staring into the camera narrating a monologue to the viewer.  My favourite monologue is that of Cash as he describes the build of Addie's coffin.  

What I like best about the movie is that it barely detracts from the novel at all,  which is a rarity these days, so I guess Franco's not just a pretty face after all!

After enjoying this so much, and also The Sound and The Fury, I look forward to reading some more Faulkner later this year.


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