Maybe you cannot know when you first approach a novel to reread if it will live up to your recollection or sink like dead weight. Maybe it won’t do either—maybe it will just hover in that No Man’s Land between the title you added to your favorite list in 2010 and the one you plod through, ever so slowly, in 2012. Maybe, it will haunt you.
First time around, this one sailed—stream of consciousness, no problem—convoluted, page-long sentences, bring ‘em on. There’s a problem with multiple narrators? I don’t think so. Second time around though, no stunning surprises to keep the pages turning; the language of racism begins to feel gratuitous, painful (yeah, yeah, I know, it was reflective of the times and attitudes of Civil War-era South, blah, blah, blah). Still. For a Blue State liberal, some words become tiresome, painful. What was contextually acceptable the first time around, is more oppressive the second time.
In any case, I’ve retained that rating from the first read which was entirely pleasurable, while adding this cautionary moan regarding the second read. There’s a balance to be had, I suppose, but this time I was on the down side of the scale.
On a more pleasant note, rereading this and feeling as if I had to write something, I dug out Javier Marías’ Written Lives, a lovely book I will finish sooner or later, and reread the brief essay on Faulkner. I found it interesting that Faulkner was a clothes horse, fashionista in his youth—rendering him, perhaps, his own model for Charles Bon, who in turn becomes a model for Henry Sutpen. Apparently, Faulkner was also not a huge fan of people—hovering, talking, wanting something—I can relate.
If you’re approaching AA for the first time, have fun with it, read it as quickly as you can. If you’re reading this for some other reason—an assignment or some other ‘on purpose’ obligation—look out. All the best, y’all.