I think I was the only person in my high school English class to actually enjoy Faulkner. Admittedly, his writing can be difficult to read. The first time I read The Sound and the Fury I rarely knew which character was narrating the book at any given time. Some of his books really require a second or third read to really appreciate, and how many high school students are willing to do that? Well… I guess I was a bit of a lit geek. In fact, Faulkner became one of my all time favorite authors and remains that to this day. His characters, those quirky, tragicomic denizens of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, have really stayed with me, more than any other characters I’ve encountered in literature.
I’m not a huge Oprah fan. I don’t watch the show, I don’t read her magazine, and I usually don’t keep up with the books she’s recommended to her club (though I was thrilled last year when she recommended The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, another of my faves). Now Oprah is trying to do what seemed impossible — to get people to enjoy reading Faulkner. This summer for the Oprah Book Club is the Summer of Faulkner, and they will be reading three of his best known works. If she can get people to appreciate As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and The Sound and the Fury, she will have done something that thousands of English teachers have yet to accomplish. At the very least, she is showing people that Faulkner is not just something to plow through for a class with little enjoyment. His books are something that can be enjoyed if you’re willing to throw away all of your preconceptions of how a book should be written and enjoy his unique narrative style.
Don’t worry, you won’t be graded on it this time.