2009: 121. Light in August

“Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece’”

Light in August, William Faulkner

      This is the fourth Faulkner that I’ve read, and the more I read the more I enjoy him.*  This novel starts with Lena, who is visibly pregnant, and walking from Alabama to Mississippi to find the man who got her that way.  Lena is such a wonderful creation of a character - she’s not bitter and angry, but just certain that she is meant to be with her man, and certain she’ll find him.  She’s maternity personified, I guess, and she’s not wrong, since despite all odds she does find the father of her baby, Lucas Birch.  She arrives in the small town of Jefferson, where her story gets wrapped into two others.  One is the story of Christmas Jones, who is Lucas’s partner in petty crime (they are bootleggers), and who commits a terrible murder.  Finally, it’s the story of Byron Bunch and Reverend Hightower, two citizens of Jefferson who become intertwined.  Really, though, like much of Faulkner, its about the South, and the Confederacy and race in America - particularly about what it means to be black in this country.  It is a grand novel - its melodramatic as all Faulkner, but what else could a novel about the South and its misery be?  And I keep coming back to Lena, doggedly walking her fur piece.  

*And, some advice if you haven’t read any Faulkner.  Do not be a doof like me and start with The Sound And The Fury, which, while it may be his most respected work, is, by far his least accessible (especially if no one told you in advance that the first section is narrated by a mentally disabled character).  Read this - or maybe As I Lay Dying, or even Absalom, Absalom!, which is difficult, but worth it. 

Date/Place Completed:  October 2009; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Book Resolutions


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017