Why hadn’t I read any Faulkner before? This novel is my first experience of his writing as I pass 50 years of age. In this book there is an amazing depth to the characters and a meandering plot that weaves skilfully together three central characters.
There is Lena, who we meet on the road from Alabama to Jefferson, Mississippi, on the trail of the father of her unborn baby. She has greater hopes of a happy reconciliation than we do suspecting the father had his fun and high-tailed out of Alabama to avoid any responsibility.
The story moves onto Jefferson, where we meet Joe Christmas working in a lumber mill with Lena’s erstwhile lover. Joe was an abused orphan raised by a religious fanatic foster-father, haunted by his mixed ancestry. Faulkner is a writer from the South and uses the two N-words frequently, the Spanish for black (negro) and the other N-word, which I never write because of its bitter connection to slavery and the African diaspora.
The third principal character is the disgraced Rev Gail Hightower eking out a living on the fringes of Jefferson society. There are many fascinating secondary characters, too and Faulkner plays with the idea of predestination, in that the characters seem unable to escape their various destinies.
Third-person narrative mixes with interior monologues and extended flashbacks.
Unfortunately some of my pages (8 in total) were blank, bought in a respectable bookstore “Biblius” in Tbilisi, I don’t know where they sourced this printing, I expect it is a pirate copy, smuggled in by a Georgian “Joe Christmas”.
507 pages but I got through it in just two days.
My rating : 4 out of 5