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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Faulkner
Among academics and literary connoisseurs at the moment, William Faulkner is generally the greatest American author to ever write. This novel, his quintessential work, is one of the main reasons why; it also epitomizes his work in many ways, collecting in one place many of his most pivotal techniques, themes, and concerns. The book's narrative complexity is widely-noted...
Published on April 13 2004 by Bill R. Moore

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas, but..
..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...
Published on Nov. 28 2002 by Kait Rankins


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Faulkner, April 13 2004
By 
Bill R. Moore (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
Among academics and literary connoisseurs at the moment, William Faulkner is generally the greatest American author to ever write. This novel, his quintessential work, is one of the main reasons why; it also epitomizes his work in many ways, collecting in one place many of his most pivotal techniques, themes, and concerns. The book's narrative complexity is widely-noted and highly-praised: the novel is composed of some 50-odd sections of narration by 15 different narrators. Each speaker has a distinctive personality, parlance, and way of viewing the world. The entire story is built around one central event: the death of the Bundren family matriarch, hence the title. As with The Sound and the Fury, the structure is not linear: it is told in bits and starts by each narrator, each revealing something that the others didn't reveal while also concealing something that the others did not. Different people often present the same event in totally different ways. The different sections of narration and the multiple narrators also provide insight into the psychology (and psychopathology) of each speaker. In the writing, Faulkner alternates between what the characters say, what they consciously think, and even what they unconsciously think. These latter two, especially the unconscious thoughts, are presented by Faulkner in a realistic and true-to-life manner: sometimes random, sometimes seemingly nonsensical, and sometimes incomplete. In so doing, Faulkner skillfully and successfully employs the often-cited but much-maligned and frequently-misunderstood technique of stream-of-consciousness. One might get the sense that Faulkner had a hard time running back and forth between the various plates that he had spinning, in order to keep any of them from falling down. If this was indeed the case, it is not apparent, and Faulkner pulls off the immensely complicated and complex task with grace, skill, and even apparent ease where a lesser author would've fallen flat on his or her face. In my view, anyone who can pull off such a task is nothing less than a genius. As one might expect, it is not exactly an easy read, especially the first time around -- for the text simply cries out for multiple readings -- but, once one gets the hang of the narration, it moves quite quickly and one is able to enjoy the storyline to its full extent.
While the story and plot themselves, aside from the narrative complexity, might be quite simple, Faulkner manages to show much simple humanity in it. The Bundren family, in attempting to bury its matriarch, undergoes Job-like traumatic experience after traumatic experience. In relating their adventures and misfortunes, Faulkner lays on thick his particularly macabre brand of dark humor. The book is also positively dripping with Faulkner's particular brand of pathos. He also explores many of his central themes: the importance of the family, and particularly the matriarch to Southern life; the importance of the church (God and religion) to the same; the after-effects of the Civil War on the South; issues of class and race; the cyclical nature of life (as in the book's surprising, if not outright shocking, ending). In all of As I Lay Dying's broad implications and features, Faulkner created one of the great American novels. If one has never read Faulkner before, this is the place to start: it is basically an epitomization of his work, while also being an easier first read than, say, The Sound and the Fury. If one has read Faulkner before, pick this up for another great read.
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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
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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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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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2 of 2 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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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
1.0 out of 5 stars People actually liked this book?, Feb. 21 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
The book was absolutely awful. Not one person had any sensible thoughts. If someone came close to making sense, their thoughts were hard to follow with a different speaker each chapter. All i got out of this book was: don't cross a river with a coffin, and bananas must be really tasty (the characters probably ate over 10 tons of them)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner belongs with the very best, Oct. 17 2013
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Kindle Edition)
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. Written entirely from the characters' points of view, it takes the reader on a wild, desperate, crazed road trip instead of what should have been a solemn trip to the graveyard. Even the dead speak in this remarkable book. One of the most remarkable novels ever written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rereading Faulkner, July 7 2013
By 
Veronica Gareau (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Kindle Edition)
I read "As I Lay Dying" many years ago and at that time was blown away by the powerful narratives of the characters. But at that time I didn't really understand or appreciate the passions of the characters so strongly depicted by Faulkner. Recently, the title appeared in my Amazon listing of what other people were reading and I thought after 20 years it might be a good idea to reread it from a more mature stance. I was not disappointed. From the moment I read the first words I was hooked. It was as though I had never read this incredible American classic. I had new insights into the characters and the whole atmosphere of the book. What a writer. The rereading has encouraged me to read some of his other books. I would recommend this book highly to those who have never read it and to those who read it years ago.
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, Yet Satisfying, April 2 2004
By 
Jason Burke (California United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: As I Lay Dying (Paperback)
I recently had to read As I Lay Dying for my college english class, and i must say that this book keeps you reading. This was my first taste of Faulkner, and it just left me wanting more. His writing style isn't very straightforward, and he uses a wide variety of narrators, but the story itself is great. I highly recommend giving As I Lay Dying a shot.
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As I Lay Dying
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (Paperback - Jan. 30 1991)
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