A husband and children go through fire and flood to honor a woman's last
request to be buried with her kin. Sounds touching, no? Well, the husband, who
may be the most selfish man in Mississippi and is certainly the laziest, wants
to get himself a new set of teeth. The daughter is pregnant and hoping to get an
abortion in town. The middle son is so jealous of one of his brothers that he
missed saying goodbye to his mother just to ensure that the favorite not be
there when she died. Oh, and that last request was something in the nature of
payback for 30 years of misery and backbreaking poverty. Meet the Bundrens. Or
rather, hope that you never do. "As I Lay Dying," told from 15 different points
of view, is for those who like their comedy black and completely unsweetened.
Faulkner called it a "tour de force," and it's both deftly written and mordantly
funny, but there's a relentlessly mean undertow sucking at a reader's
consciousness as well.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
I love this summation of As I Lay Dying in the Christian Science Monitor's article on Oprah's book club: