This novel is about an older man telling his grandson about the time that he and two of his father’s help/hands run off to Memphis in a car no one wanted in 1905. It starts there and then gets pretty crazy.
It’s been probably 15 years since I have read a new Faulkner. I teach As I Lay Dying from time to time in my senior class as well as “A Rose for Emily,” but this was one I had never read before. I think when it comes down to it, I really like this novel, but I don’t think I would have when I was younger and still in college. In a lot of ways this novel is Faulkner’s parody of himself. His characters are still part of his geography, they are part of one of the several main families that geography contains, and then he pivots and tells a kind of slapstick version of his own novels. It’s great. For what it’s worth, the last 12 years of Faulkner’s life did not produce of high-grade material. He wrote some ok novels that also range to not very good at all. So this endnote of his life and career is a solid place to close out. I think if I were going to recommend Faulkner it would go like this: As I Lay Dying and Go Down, Moses, then Sanctuary and A Light in August, then The Reivers, short stories, and Absalom Absalom and The Sound and the Fury. This is not a relation of quality, but of accessibility.
“Then why didn’t he come to me,” Grandfather said, “Back where he should never have left in the first place, instead of stealing a horse?”
“What would you a done?” Ned said. “If he had come in already out of breath from Memphis and told you, Dont ask me no questions: just hand me a hundred and a few extra dollar and I’ll go back to Memphis and start paying you back the first Saturday I gets around to it?”
“He could have told me why,” Grandfather said, “I’m a McCaslin too.”
“You’re a white man too,” Ned said.
“Go on,” Grandfather said.–So Bobo discovered that the fifteen dollars which he had thought might save him, had actually ruined him. Now, according to Ned, Bobo’s demon gave him no rest at all. Or perhaps the white man began to fear Bobo–that a mere dribble, a few dollars at a time, would take too long; or perhaps that Bobo, because of his own alarm and desperation, plus what the white man doubtless considered the natural ineptitude of Bobo’s race, would commit some error or even crime which would blow everything up.”