Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Southern Gothic at its BEST

I'm sure many people have heard of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. Or, you have seen the HBO series True Blood (which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse books). No question that Charlaine Harris has very entertaining characters and writes a fun novel. She has introduced the modern world to the macabre of Southern gothic. Harris is not the first, nor will she be the last to write about the majesty of true Southern culture. If you like Harris I would recommend the KING of Southern gothic: William Faulkner.

As funny as it is dark, one of Faulkner's best novels about the South is As I Lay Dying. Faulkner shows the desperation of a family trying to move on in life through a physical and mental journey to bury their mother. Don't mistake Faulkner for one who is saddened by death. The journey that this family takes is hysterical because they are living life through purely selfish means. Faulkner does not write them as selfish characters nor does he write them as sympathetic. He writes them as they are and does not dance around the issues that face us all. From the moment where the youngest boy drills holes in his mother's corpse Faulkner has you rolling around laughing and questioning your own sanity.

I was deeply moved by the genius of William Faulkner. I was also horrified by the motivations of people to think of themselves first. At the same time I know that if you do not question your own motivations for living you end up waiting to die just as the characters in this novel. Faulkner writes about the the human condition as played out in the South, and he does a damn good job of it.

"Sometimes I aint so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It's like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it's the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it."- William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying

If you are interested in purchasing either of these books at your local, independently owned bookstore, or borrowing them from the local library here are the ISBN numbers:

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, ISBN:9780441016990

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, ISBN: 9780679732259

Happy Reading! - Greth

1 comment:

limine said...

yeah -- "as i lay dying" is a doozy. one of the original stream of consciousness masters, eh? personally, i was kind of a fan of "the sound and the fury" . . . signifying nothing. and everything.