Food for thought, Jonathan Yardley on William Faulkner:
In all of American literature there is nothing — absolutely nothing — to compare with the life’s work of William Faulkner. From beginning to end his achievement is at an extraordinarily high level, sustained over nearly four decades, leaving us a half dozen indisputable masterpieces — “The Sound and the Fury,” “As I Lay Dying,” “Light in August,” “Absalom, Absalom!,” “The Hamlet,” “Go Down, Moses” — as well as many other books of singular merit. Simply and incontrovertibly, Faulkner stands alone . . . Yet for many other readers Faulkner remains an Everest too steep and craggy to climb. His dense, at times overwrought prose; his exceedingly complex plots; the intertwined genealogies that connect his books to each other; the sheer immensity of his oeuvre — these and other challenges scare people away. What a terrible pity this is, for the riches his work yields are immeasurable, not merely its searching exploration of the great themes of Southern history — slavery, defeat, the burden of the past — but also the astonishing humor, what Cowley called “a sort of homely and sober-sided frontier humor that is seldom achieved in contemporary writing.”
I hope to tackle Faulkner this year, but I will admit to being somewhat intimidated.