Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Splash of Southern Heat on a Snowy "Spring" Day: Light in August by William Faulkner

cover of the 1st edition
Where: Q-train
Who was reading: A young woman whose eyes remained glued to the page with singular focus. Her face was all bundled up in soft cozy fabrics, among them a floral print scarf and a mulberry-colored wool hat. 
Never having seen a mulberry in the wild... I'm going to come clean and admit that this color description comes from having read one too many L.L. Bean catalog [hangs head in shame].
Faulkner's books tend to resist summary. Nevertheless I would summarily describe this as a characteristically Faulknerian stream-of-consciousness-type-novel that explores themes of race, Calvinism and isolation. Told in three voices, it centers around the character of Joe Christmas: a man who does not know whether he is black or white.
Good thing Faulker wrote it and not my pals over at the L.L. Bean catalog: Confronted with such a crisis of identity they probably would've written "heather gray" and called it a day.


  1. Random trivia like this, Lights In August is one of the novels I have seen the most read by other novels' characters

  2. Mulberry trees are considered trash trees here in the south because they take over and the climate doesn't support silkworms. The berries start out a pale peach and eventually get to a dark reddish-purple.

  3. Wow. I feel privileged to have such wise and interesting commentors. On the other hand I feel betrayed by mulberries. They seemed like the stuff of holiday cards: quaint and cheerful. Now I see them for what they truly are: cane toads in native toads' clothing.

  4. Yup. Total import. They are pretty berries until they stain your porch.