As I Lay Dying

Well, I don’t know about you, but I am definitely ready for fall to get here.

I spent close to an hour and a half today mowing the lawn in 90+ weather here in North Carolina.

Seriously, it’s just unbelievable that we’re still having weather hot and humid enough to get me riled up for a rant.

But that’s the case, so I’m going to let it rip for a few minutes…

First, if it a wasn’t bad enough that I had to mow the lawn again, I got two wasp stings when I was cutting on the slope.

I’ve posted about my wasp bite experiences in other places here on the blog, so I’ll spare you my rant on how much I hate the little bastards and the way their venom causes swelling and itching that the pope himself couldn’t scratch away with a scepter.

I believe that’s the fourth time this summer that wasps have nailed me when I was minding my own business, just trying to have a lawn that doesn’t look like it belongs to Anse Bundren.


If you don’t know who Anse Bundren is, you need to read William Faulkner’s just plain wonderful As I Lay Dying because Anse is one of the great characters in all of American literature.

The amusing character fact about Anse that triggered my mentioning him lies with this fact: he believes that if he ever breaks a sweat, he’ll die.

Well, the older I get, the more often I’m feeling like I should model Anse in my own life and work a lot less than I do, especially when we’re talking about moving the lawn mower over close to an acre of sloped and slippery grass.

Slippery grass aside, near as I can tell not many people read Faulkner any more, and of course that’s a crying shame since I think he’s close to Shakespeare with his wonderfully deep, true, and humorous insights into men and women and this whole life trip that all of us take.

Why people read so-called novels by guys like Dan Brown who can’t write a word of dialogue that rings true when Faulkner and so many great writers go unread certainly reflects an education system that’s producing illiterates at best and idiots at worst.

Some of Faulkner’s novels do make for tough reading, no doubt about that.

But As I Lay Dying isn’t one of them.

I mean, seriously, I taught this novel in high school and even the dullest blade in my many drawers of students over the years could read, understand, and appreciate this wonderful novel.


You want to know what the novel’s about?

In a nutshell, according to the Wikipedia entry on As I Lay Dying, “The book is told in stream of consciousness writing style by 15 different narrators in 59 chapters. It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family’s quest and motivations—noble or selfish—to honor her wish to be buried in the town of Jefferson.”

If you’re familiar with Homer’s Odyssey, you’ll recognize many elements of that quest/travel narrative in As I Lay Dying.

I could write about this novel for a couple of days, most likely, but I need to stop here and have dinner, so check a copy out of your local library if you’re too cheap or too broke to buy one… and then settle back on the couch with a soft pillow and spend several hours losing yourself in one of the great stories of all time.


Okay, well, I see a rant on lawn mowing has turned into a rave on American fiction.

I guess that serves me right for blogging when I’m pumped full of endorphins from all the exercise. 🙂