Thursday, September 15, 2005

Reading Faulkner with Oprah:

Within the first few pages the narrative had moved forward, back, and sideways in time. I hadn't grasped these time shifts last night, and no wonder: Sometimes they were set off by italics, sometimes not. Plus, the early pages described the actions of no fewer than 10 characters whose lives were intricately bound up with one another. Their interrelationships were clearly crucial to understanding the dialogue. But they were never (God forbid!) explained by our author, who, like Valéry, appeared to have an aversion to writing sentences like "The Marquis went out at 10 o'clock." (Valéry, of course, chose to become a poet.) Gradually it dawned on me that the narrator wasn't only a child but also mentally impaired. The difficulties were growing more knowable. And then suddenly Quentin, a hitherto-male character, became a girl: "They sat up in the swing, quick. Quentin had her hands on her hair." I threw my hands up. Had Faulkner himself lost track of his story?
12:20 PM