July 26, 2013
Light in August by William Faulkner (Review)
Author: William Faulkner
First published: 1932
Add it: Goodreads, The Book Depository
Last week's book for The Fiction of Relationship course was not an easy read not only because of Faulkner's stream of consciousness style, but also thanks to the abundance of violence, racism and perverse sex. Reading some scenes was very unsettling, and besides my imagination is too good for this stuff - I even saw a couple of nightmares! But I'm not saying Light in August is offensive, it is just problematic, and I guess it reflects the ruthless situation in South America of the time described in the book.
The plot of the novel unfolds backwards: the reader gets the present state of affairs first and then dives into the reflections and remembrances of the characters involved in the situation to learn their history and understand how they feel. This technique worked great for me: I really enjoyed gradually discovering the underlying motifs and meaning of the events. But as Woolf's books, this type of narrative requires a lot of concentration and ideally a rereading.
The protagonist of Light in August is a mulatto with such a little amount of supposed black blood, that nobody can tell by the looks of him. However, he is very aware of this "defect" in his ancestry, and he is trying to come to terms with himself his whole life, which is by no means easy, of course: his memories go back to an orphanage, where he was bullied as a "nigger", then through his life with an adoptive family that had very strict rules and continue with the useless years he has spent sleeping with women, working hard and being miserable and offensive. But the first thing reader knows about him is that he is actually a murderer. All the history is there only to get an understanding of how he has become one.
In my book:
Faulkner writes very well, his narration is captivating and vivid. He deals with some unpleasant psychological and sociological issues very straightforwardly, and certainly gives the reader something to consider. It would be 5 stars if not for my nightmares. I really hate having them :)