The spoilers and the spoilee

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Last night I finished reading As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I read the last paragraph and I wanted to throw the book across the room. It is with relief this morning that I retreat to the comforts of The Dirdir, third book of Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure saga.

Don't get me wrong. The book is beautifully written, brilliant technique, exciting in parts, even if no modern agent or editor would let a writer get away with the smashed rules Faulkner leaves strewn in his path like bone fragments. But Anse Bundren drags the stinking, spoiling corpse of his wife across half of Mississippi, letting his children bear all the mental and physical cost of the trek, only to proudly grab a set of new choppers and oh yes let's not forget a new wife on the last page? I wanted to throw the book the room across the book is was and I was not is the book and burn it up to tall black circles making the stars move backward across the room.

In Yoknapatawpha County, selfishness is the prime virtue, and any character that's remotely likeable is like to be harshly and Biblically punished for his likeability. The last book I read about such awful, self-absorbed characters was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, and I didn't like it then either. I feel as if I've been dragged on an epic journey and used as callously as Anse Bundren used everyone around him.

Still, I suppose I'll read more Faulkner. I'm curious to see if there's more to him, and if I'm just a philistine.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/340008.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on October 4, 2006 10:40 AM.

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