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As I Lay Dying [Hardcover]

William Faulkner
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas, but.. Nov. 28 2002
..this is the worst book I ever read. I hate to say it, because reviews that say "I don't like this book" are generally extremely unintelligent reviews. And generally I write extremely good reviews of books, and I can always find something good in almost any book.
Except perhaps this one, I'm sorry to say.
While Willliam Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness form was unprecendented and original, it does not mean he should be praised for his extremely poor use of it. The idea is good, but his execution makes the novel almost unintelligible. Sometimes it's best to sacrifice the realism of the stream of human thought for the sake of the reader's own mind and dramatic effect.
I disliked the book more when I took it seriously. In order to get the most out of it, you ought to take it as comical, a farcical attempt for a completely inept and dysfunctional hillbilly family to get the rotting corpse of their matriarch to the family burial grounds. And everything goes wrong along the way, with the corpse rotting away as they trek it through the countryside, try to get it over a river, and all the while argue with each other and go crazy and break bones, as the youngest child thinks his dead mother is now a fish. Let's face it - the book is -funny.-
But that doesn't mean it's well-written. Like I said before, it's good in theory, but the stream-of-consciousness is almost impossible to comprehend. And.. these are not people whose minds you want to get into and read every thought of.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Jesus! Feb. 8 2001
By A Customer
I'm struggling my way through this darn thing, and I am really not certain if I have the mental strength to finish it. I am simply a person who likes to read for pleasure. Lately I have been feeling a little guilty for not trying some of the "classics" of literature, so I looked at a 100's Best Books list and this fantastic title, "As I Lay Dying", caught my attention. A few pages into it I was confused, but I struggled on. By page 51 (in the Random edition I'm reading) I had a vague idea what was going on, a vaguer idea of the relationship of the characters, and a solid feeling that I would not be able to tolerate much more of Faulkner's writing style. I was seriously considering the idea that he was either drunk or in some kind of a drug trance when he was writing this thing. For certain, I could not imagine having this as required reading in high school unless you really wanted to turn young people off to reading entirely. Here's a sample of "poetic" writing: "Jewel knows he is, because he does not know that he does not know whether he is or not. He cannot empty himself for sleep because he is not what he is and he is what he is not. ... And since sleep is is-not and rain and wind are was, it is not." For certain, this thing has me very leery about trying other classics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My mother is a fish" Jan. 11 2008
This is the first Faulkner novel I have read, after grinding through a few of his shorts like "A Rose For Emily". I've become a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy, who is oft described as Faulknerian, so I decided to give his long prose a chance. AS I LAY DYING was one of the darkest, most soul crushing, and oddly humorous, books I have ever read. I don't think I've ever despised a character as much as Anse Bundren. I hate him from basically his introduction.

I've never been left as staggered as I was after reading AS I LAY DYING. I finished the book basically after my second year English class, having just studied Paradise Lost, sitting at a desk on the campus library's fourth floor, looking out the window as it snowed.

Hell of an experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words, Damnation and Salvation March 1 2004
Much has been said about America's great writer, William Faulkner, and about this novel in particular. He is a great craftsman of fiction. Of all American writers, he perfected the use of that stream of consciousness narration we all heard about in English Literature 101. His fascination with the "grotesque" and with the legacy of the Civil War in the South has been covered time and time again. But I think AS I LAY DYING has one other element going for it that doesn't appear as prominently in the others, and that is the power or lack of power of language.
The "I" in William Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING, is Addie Bundren. And while the book is about her death and her family's obligation to bury her miles away in her hometown, Addie's voice is only given one chapter, and that chapter is in the dead center of the book. Flares and sirens should be going off. All the chapters surrounding this central one are remarkable examples of inarticulation, including the famous one-sentence chapter from the youngest Bundren, Vardaman: "My mother is a fish." Addie, however, in her brief chapter, has much to say about everyone, including herself. Her last statement, however, while her devout neighbor tries to force her to repent, points out the impotence of language; that salvation and damnation are just words. Compare this to Dickens' belief in the moralizing power of novels. Dickens believed that his art would have a beneficial effect on his society; think of all the times he addresses his readers and implores them to listen to him and learn. Less than a century later, Faulkner admits that in the end, salvation or damnation is "just a word."
But after having said all that, I don't want you to think that this novel is a mere screen for Faulkner's philosphy.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars bought as gift
as described. thanks
Published 15 days ago by teatime
4.0 out of 5 stars I like how Faulkner mixes abstract & concrete ideas
I like how Faulkner mixes abstract & concrete ideas, unfortunately i know, practically nothing, of the world he is describing and in that sense I can only comment on the form... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Wolfric
5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner belongs with the very best
As I Lay Dying is great beyond great. Filled with pain and desperation and poverty as well as wild, dark humor, it is above all intensely human. Read more
Published 13 months ago by productum
5.0 out of 5 stars Rereading Faulkner
I read "As I Lay Dying" many years ago and at that time was blown away by the powerful narratives of the characters. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Veronica Gareau
4.0 out of 5 stars As I lay reading
While normally one to pick some "word of mouth" book, like Jackson McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER or Martel's LIFE OF PI, I instead sought out something more classical. Glad I did. Read more
Published on March 26 2005 by J. Densmore
1.0 out of 5 stars Ghastly
One of the top 5 or 10 worst things I was forced to read at school.
Published on March 8 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars You should be dying to read it
This is the second of Faulkner's works I have read, the first being "The Sound and the Fury". Read more
Published on July 28 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Dismal
I've been attempting to read at least a couple of books by each of the world's great writers. It is a fantastic process discovering new and varied genius. Read more
Published on May 8 2004 by Tome Raider
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be scared to pick this book up
I had only heard bad things about William Faulkner's writing, so I was a little leery of this book. However, once I got into it, it wasn't that bad. Read more
Published on May 3 2004 by Megan Ealy
5.0 out of 5 stars Intro to William Faulkner
I've read three of Faulkner's great novels, "Absalom, Absalom!" "The Sound and the Fury," and this one. Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by Luis M. Luque
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