Light in August

Faulkner, William. Novels 1930 – 1935: Light in August. New York: The Library of America, 1996.

Reason read: I was thinking I should read this in August, just for the title. Instead, I’m reading it in July because of Faulkner’s death month. How morbid of me.

I found this to be one of the more enjoyable Faulkner stories. There was more plot and less stream-of-consciousness. The characters are fewer and more fully developed. Lena Grove is a pregnant white woman from Alabama looking for her man in Jefferson, Mississippi. Gail Hightower, a former reverend is forced into retirement and nearly run out of town for his wife’s erratic behavior and subsequent suicide. Joe Christmas, one of the strongest main characters, is an orphan who thinks he has “nigger blood” despite his pale skin.

There are several elements of repetition to Faulkner’s work. Most stories take place in Jefferson, Mississippi. There is usually one character that is mixed race and as a result, struggling with identity. A fire usually breaks out somewhere. Someone usually is pregnant. Probably the most typical reoccurring element is style. Faulkner uses flashbacks to either tell a story or fill in the gaps of one. Light in August was one of the more easier ones to follow.

Author fact: Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Faulkner died of a heart attack in the month of July.

Book trivia: Faulkner began writing Light in August in August 1931 and it was published in October 1932.

BookLust Twist: first, in Book Lust in the chapter called “100 Good Read, Decade By Decade: 1930s (p 177). Second, in More Book Lust in a chapter that doesn’t really make sense to me. “You Can’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover” (p 238). But, Pearl isn’t bringing up Light in August because its cover contradicts what it’s about. Faulkner is just one of the books in Alan Powers’s Front Cover.

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