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Showing 1-10 of 104 reviews(5 star). See all 211 reviews
on July 7, 2013
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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on November 5, 2014
as described. thanks
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on August 10, 2017
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on February 5, 2017
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on May 20, 2016
As expected
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on October 17, 2013
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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on January 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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on 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. 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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on April 20, 2004
Lena came from Alabama. She traveled to Mississippi looking for Lucas Burch. Beside Lena Grove, Gail Hightower, Joe Christmas, and Joe Brown are characters in the story. Hightower's wife had jumped or fallen from a hotel window and had died. He had been the Presbyterian Minister. Even the Ku Klux Klan had not managed to persuade Hightower to leave Jefferson.
Hightower and Byron Burch commence to discuss a fire at Mrs. Burden's house. Christmas and Brown lived in a structure in the back. Mrs. Burden had started praying over Joe Christmas. It was not her fault she had gotten too old.
Joe Christmas went from an orphanage to the home of the McEacherns, a Presbyterian couple. As a teenager he started to see a waitress in town. McEachern watched Joe. He ordered the waitress away. Joe went to Chicago, to Detroit. Finally, age 33, he was on a Mississippi country road in the vicinity of the Burden house. During the first four or five months of his stay in a cabin on her property, Joe and Mrs. Burden would stand and talk like strangers. Later she told him she was pregnant. Now he had a partner in the whiskey business--Brown.
After the fire and Joanna Burden's death, the people searched for Christmas. Brown was placed in jail for safe-keeping. Christmas ran off to Mottstown. He becomes obsessed with getting food. Joe Christmas is killed. He is sent across the square with a deputy and unidentified men take him.
Gavin Stevens is the district attorney, a Harvard graduate. Stevens tells the authorities that Christmas will plead guilty and take a life sentence. His death follows. Lena's baby is born around the time Joe Christmas dies. The mother of the baby had started her journey in Alabama and three months later she is in Tennesee.
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on August 12, 2003
The audacity of "As I Lay Dying" may be somewhat diluted today, but can you imagine what readers must have felt when this first hit bookstands? I don't know that before this novel there was ever another narrative so fragmented by different points of view. Sure, other books existed that switched perspectives from one character to another--even Faulkner's own "The Sound and the Fury" did that--but in "As I Lay Dying," Faulkner takes the conceit and stretches it almost to its extreme limit. The sheer number of characters and the frequency with which the novel shifts from one perspective to another pretty much eliminates any chance the reader has of forming an objective point of view on the events in the narrative. And that's the point. Much of "As I Lay Dying"'s purpose is to illustrate that there is no one accurate account of an event, since accounts are always going to be filtered through the psyches of those relating them. Just as in this novel each member of the Bundren family has his or her own motives for the trip to Jefferson (besides the primary stated motive of burying their dead wife and mother), so does each family member have their own accounts of what happens, who does what, who's at fault, etc.
This refusal on Faulkner's part to offer his readers a tidy plot with all loose ends tied up can be disorienting and frustrating to some. I know Faulkner has a notorious reputation for being difficult. However, this novel was my first introduction to Faulkner, and I didn't struggle that much with it. I think a key to understanding Faulkner is to know that he wants to communicate with his readers, he just doesn't want to do it in the convential way. If you keep an open mind and are willing to stay with him without giving up, I think you'll find reading him an immensely rewarding experience, as his stories are emotional, gripping and powerful.
In my opinion, this book is a must read for everyone interested in American literature.
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