Light in August

by William Faulkner

I admit to huge trouble in the past with getting through William Faulkner. I only ever faked reading The Sound and the Fury in high school—sorry again, Mrs. B. (I believe it was the first-person mentally retarded narration that did me in very quickly that time.) But this book is different, delightfully different. It is readable. The story is intelligible and captivating. Light in August is actually quite hard to put down, if truth be told! Painting a Faulkner novel as a real "page turner" is not something Classic Bitch ever thought she would be doing. But if you are like I was—Faulkner averse—go ahead and pick up Light in August, and I don't think you'll be disappointed. (Case in point to it being a crowd pleaser? Light in August is one of the books on the list that, while reading it in public, I am approached by a fan of the book & engaged in animated conversation about its greatness! So if you don't take Classic Bitch's word for it...take a stranger's.)

Where to begin trying to describe the plot, I have no idea. This book is actually comprised of a number of different interwoven plots, and there is decidedly no one main character. Light in August is actually something of a mystery; even a murder mystery at that! If you go in for that sort of thing, you'll definitely enjoy it. Although the telling of the pieces of the puzzle that comprise the plot is asynchronous, William Faulkner executes this masterfully. So many other authors could take a tip from the structure of this novel: This is how asynchronous narration actually works! Faulkner also introduces new characters all throughout the book—some even at the very end—and does this well. And every single character herein—from the players in the very first chapter, to those who make appearances in the middle, to those introduced at the very end—is extraordinarily well developed. They would have to be; each one carries the plot progression in turn!

This is William Faulkner we're talking about here, so of course the book is set in the American South. Of course it is a book about race (although it predominantly focuses on working-class whites). It is rife with Christian symbolism. Light in August is all about journeys. These journeys are very short mileage-wise, but symbolically or transformationally for each character...they are huge.