Let’s Get Literal – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 62/100Title: Absalom, Absalom!
Author: William Faulkner
Year: 1936
Country: USA

A few weeks ago, I played a game of ‘bivalve literature’ with my favourite work colleague and I ended up coming out with Crabsalom, Crabsalom! It is only for this reason that I chose this as my next book. It helps that there was still multiple Faulkner books that I had to get to for this list, but I just wanted to read the book that I now associated with crabs. Sadly, there wasn’t a single crustacean in this book.

More sadly, I began this and suddenly remembered what had kinda put me off about The Sound and the Fury. Faulkner has good stories, I can’t deny that. What he also has, however, is The power to create such long sentences that it feels like a punishment. Truly, I have never known a writer able to make a sentence more than two pages long that can be so hard to follow. There were times where I had to go back and start again because my eyes inadvertently skipped a line and I was lost forever in his sea of words.

The story itself is interesting as its this sort of Russian nesting doll feel of truth as you get to know the family history of the Sutpen’s as seen through the eyes of one of the characters from The Sound and the Fury. Hell, at one point I was enjoying some queer interpreting of my own. Then it took a turn and rather than fact, the story changed into how the narrator and his friend at university extrapolated the facts and made a story of their own. I don’t know, but after slaving away at this book for a week and on the flights to and from my in-laws, this felt like such a cheat that I got unreasonably angry.

I hope my next book goes better than this one. Almost felt like time for The Wind and the Willows to be trotted out, but I’m going to go for one of the Virginia Woolfs instead. It’d be nice to try out one of the few remaining female-written books on my list.


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