Every single day, my life becomes more and more about my thesis and the authors connected to it. When I went to Boston, I decided to have a little break (just a tiny one, because I did spend an amazing day at the Hemingway archives, living my dream of being a real researcher who looks at super important, life changing documents) and focused on an author who always seems to be mentioned in the same breath as Ernest Hemingway, but isn't from the same group: William Faulkner.
In case you know as much about William Faulkner as I did, which is nothing, he is a Nobel prize winning author from Mississippi, who lived from 1897 until 1962. (Hence the connection with Hemingway, since they worked in the same time period) He is mostly known for The Sound and the Fury, but I read As I Lay Dying, because I loved the cover and the summary interested me immediately.
As I Lay Dying is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and how this influences her family, community, and bystanders who were strangers before in Southern America. This book is the perfect example of why so many people dislike modernism - it's tough. Faulkner alternates between 15 narrators, jumps between time and action and makes the reader do a lot of work. A lot of times, I had to read passages several times to really realise what's going on. This is focused reading, not a simple beach read that you half read while also talking to someone.
However, I found it truly worth it. When I finished it, I left feeling "so why did I even read this?" and then some days passed. And this book kept popping up at different moments throughout my normal day. I'd remember a line. A scene. A character.
It's simplicity is what grabbed me. There is no real point to this book - it's a telling of the death of a mother, wife, matriarch and a woman in a small community. This effects so many more people than you'd expect and in completely different ways. Yet, life also continues for all of them and they have to move on and deal with new issues that arrive.
There's almost no setting in this book. No explanation as of who the characters are and where they come from. No deep analysis of their relationships. But I absolutely loved it. With minimal words and writing, Faulkner is able to transport you to a different world and to connect with characters.
I'm extremely grateful that I read Mrs. Dalloway before this book, because otherwise I wouldn't have had the skills to appreciate this book. It might not be the best first dip into modernism, but I could appreciate it, even though I'm far from an expert.