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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My mother is a fish"
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...
Published on Jan. 11 2008 by Benjamin Anderson

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Jesus!
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",...
Published on Feb. 8 2001


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Jesus!, Feb. 8 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
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
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas, but.., Nov. 28 2002
By 
Kait Rankins (Massachusetts, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
..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. They're the typical country stereotypes found in literature - the bible-beating, overbearing, hypocritical patriarch; the hardworking but slow-thinking and meticulous son; the bad-tempered but poetic-minded and clairvoyant son; the ethereal daughter who was wronged by a boyfriend and is now pregnant (and gets the particularly irritating name of "Dewey Dell"); and the youngest son, named after a politician and as innocently quirky as they come. That, and none of them -ever- get along, and none of them are terribly intelligent or possess a modicum of decent common sense.
The way Faulkner writes in _As I Lay Dying_ is very good in its theory, running through the same events over again from different points of view. The problem with it is that none of those points of view are terribly intelligible, and you end up with an extremely garbled view of events and characters. It seems as though Faulkner is trying too hard to make each character's thoughts different to the point where it's simply ridiculous.
Very often those books hailed as classics of American literature do not deserve that title. Yes, they were innovative, but that does not make them excellent books - sometimes the first person to do the job is not the best person for it. I can honestly say that _As I Lay Dying_ is the only book that I ever literally -threw across a room- in sheer frustration of both the writing and the irritating nature of the characters.
I truly wish I had something better to say about it, but if I'm going to give my honest opinion, this is it.
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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
By 
Benjamin Anderson (Fredericton, NB CAN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
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
By 
Rocco Dormarunno (Brooklyn, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
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. This is a novel, after all, and a great one at that. Quick moving (once you get the hang of the swift shifting from one narrator to the other) and darkly humorous, AS I LAY DYING is loaded with great characters and character studies. It's not without its pathos but given the subject matter, it's to be expected. This is a great place to start, if you've never read Faulkner. Or anything from the 20th century south.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars siblings, Nov. 20 2001
By 
"unstuck" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
I read this for English class and loved it so obsessively that the minute I finished the last page, I turned back to the first page and literally read it all over again.
What fascinated me about this book is, of course, the complex, well-formed, cynical characters, and above all the relationships they had with each other.
This book is about SIBLINGS, which is a loaded topic, much under-appeciated in film and literature. Sibling relationships are subtle, elusive, obligatory and voluntary at the same time.
We see that Darl is obviously the most eloquent, intelligent, worldly and educated member of the family and we trust his perspective, yet he idolizes his simpleton brother Cash, believeing their relatoinship to be a very close one. This is ultimately Darl's tragic flaw.
He also tends to spend more time with the youngest of the Bundrel clan, Vardaman, taking him aside just to talk. This kind of intimate detail would be overlooked by a lesser author, but speaks volume about Darl's character. He is not plotting against his family; indeed he is trying to save them.
The big debate happening in my class was regarding the possibly inappropriate relationship between Darl and Dewey Dell. Dewey Dell is sexualized throughout the novel but whether her relationship with Darl was incestuous is up to the read to decide.
And of course Jewel. Jewel is cold and withdrawn, but burns inside with love for his mother.
The absurd journey they take and the cruel knowledge the reader garners from Addie about the true nature of her final wish is a perfect set-up for pathos, with futility and loss emenating so acutely from these pathetic characters.
The book was fascinating, the characters were rich and ugly, and Faulkner's innovative style is unforgettable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intro to William Faulkner, April 22 2004
By 
Luis M. Luque "luquel" (Crofton, Maryland, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
I've read three of Faulkner's great novels, "Absalom, Absalom!" "The Sound and the Fury," and this one. Of the three, "As I Lay Dying" is the easiest and perhaps the most fun. Actually, after about the first 10 pages or so, the storyline is pretty easy to figure out. The only thing difficult is differentiating and remembering all the character names and associating the characters with their actions. Taking notes might actually be helpful. A family tree in the beginning would have been helpful too, but I'm sure Faulkner would have objected. Faulkner forces you to figure out simple things like gender, relative age, and familial relationships without giving you too many clues, but things soon become clear. Of the three Faulkner novels I've read, this is by far the funniest, and has a great punchline at the end. A must read for Faulkner fans, and if you're going to dive in to his works, this is a great place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is confusing, Oct. 20 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
Im 17 and am pretty intelligent but when i read this book for my AP class I didnt understand what was going on to the extent that i would have liked. I dont see the point in making what could be a humurous and vibrant description of an unusual occurence into a laborious chore to read. The lack of cronological order is very annoying and i dont see why Faulkner did it that way unless he wanted to make people angry. I would not recommend this book unless you have great comprhension and read at a very high level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He is not easy, but this is a good place to start, Jan. 16 2004
By 
Peggy Vincent "author and reader" (Oakland, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
I started reading Faulkner because I never did in school, and as a writer myself, it just felt like I ought to be able to say, "I've read Faulkner."
Well, he's not easy. They don't call him the Master of Repetition for nothin'!
But, of the 3-4 of his books I've read, this one is imminently readable, funny as only Faulkner can be funny, tragic and pathetic as only Faulker can be tragic and patheticand as always, it's a helluva good story.
If you've never read Faulkner before, start with this one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be scared to pick this book up, May 3 2004
By 
Megan Ealy (Muncie, IN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
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. I liked how Faulkner was able to construct a plot without having the reader even noticing it. As I Lay Dying is a very good representative of stream of consciousness writing. I also like how Faulkner develops his characters through what the other characters in the book think about each other. Not only do you get to learn what each character thinks of the other characters, but it allows you to form your own opinion on the characters, which would otherwise be hard to do if you only had one point of view to go by.
The story is about the Bundren family who find themselves having a hard time trying to fulfill their mother's last wish, to be buried with her family. Through these experiences, Faulkner explores many themes including the importance of family and religion. Faulkner also explores other social issues that arise from being a poor country family living in the South. This book should be read in literature classes at the high school and college level. It is a good introduction to stream of consciousness writing and brings up a lot of good topics that can be discussed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Requires Patience, April 18 2004
By 
P. Vitale (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
This is at least the third or fourth time that I've read this book. The first two or three times were over 30 years ago in Literature classes. Then I was impressed by the writing. Today after many years of living I am still impressed by the writing, but even more so I am impressed by the understanding that Faulkner had for people. Anse is still the feckless, malicious, narcisist that gets me so incredibly angry that I wish he were real so I could use a baseball bat on him. (Not that I would do such a thing). But I find that he's more than just an evil character as Darl is more than the poet/philospher "good" character gone nuts and then betrayed. All of the characters are as human as can be with incredibly rich inner lives that can't be articulated in the world that they inhabit. . . Everyone has some kind of depth to them. It's just that it takes art to reveal that depth as fully as can be. And that I think is the value of a book like this. Read the book and try to feel what the characters are feeling. Oh my God! Does that mean our President has depth??
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As I Lay Dying
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (Paperback - Jan. 30 1991)
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