Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Sound and The Fury

I've been banging my head through the pages of The Sound and The Fury by Faulkner.  What was it that Rachel Green had said in Friends?  If it isn't a headboard, it's just not worth it.  

I pride myself on finishing a book a week on average.  Anna Karenina had taken me longer - 3 weeks, while bumping through Peru and reading two other novels -- Wise Blood and Olive Kitteridge.  Machu Picchu proved a worthy distraction somewhere during the second week, so did unplanned explorations out to village markets with dashing international co-travelers.  But I had persevered, like Bridget Jones with her cigarette habit, and completed my mission, sans Colin Firth as my prize of course.

But reading is its own reward for me.  An experience of co-creation that gives me a glimpse of how God must love and fall in love, long after he dusts off his fingers or I turn the final page.  I can't picture him scraping the first version of Adam and re-molding him three or four times though, such is the difference between the divine and I.   I have read and re-read chapter 1, 75 pages long, three or four times now, still I can't piece together a coherent timeline amidst all the mid sentence flash backs, talking heads and point of view switches.  It almost seems, it isn't worth trouble. 

But then you come to sentences like:

They held me.  It was hot on my chin and on my shirt. "Drink."  Quentin said.  They held my head.  It was hot inside me, and I began again. I was crying now, and something was happening inside me and I cried more, and they held me until it stopped happening.  Then I hushed.  It was still going around, and then the shapes began.

And it all come back to you.  It is evident, that you are reading a master, not a folly because despite of all the confusion, authentic to the autistic voice of the narrator Benji, you do learn about the characters; more so, you see the essence of scenes, people and the world quicker, as Benji cuts down the noise created by appearances, anticipations and knowledge of the past.  Instead, Benji lives and sees the moment, a present of the presence.  Like this:

Versh set me down and we went into Mother's room. There was a fire. It was rising and falling on the walls.  There was another fire in the mirror.  I could smell the sickness.  It was on a cloth folded on Mother's head. Her hair was on the pillow.  The fire didn't reach it, but shone on her hand, where her rings were jumping.

You catch a glimpse of the courage of the writer then, his empathy and most of all, the world he is painting before your eyes.  Then there you are, jumping in and painting with him, one jittery, crazed and wholehearted stroke at a time.

Wish me luck.

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