October 21st, 2012


Book Review: Light in August, by William Faulkner

In Faulkner's eloquently awful South, race colors everything, and women are the enemy.

Light in August

Vintage International, 1931, 512 pages

Light in August, a novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.

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Verdict: Although the prose is Southern-fried poetry, A Light in August is not a light-hearted read. You can skip the symbolism and just read it for the masterful character illustrations and the skillful use of flashbacks, skipping-time narratives, stream-of-consciousness, and rules-free approach to punctuation. There is racism and misogyny and violence here that's meant to offend sensibilities, and it does so memorably. Faulkner will immerse you in Yoknapatatawpha County, a place I know I am going to revisit but definitely don't want to live in. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to see what Faulkner is like.

My complete list of book reviews.