My first encounter with Faulkner was a rough one; Mrs. Harris assigned The Reivers as the last book of junior year, right when senioritis was beginning to raise its slothy head, and so I started, got slightly confused and mostly bored, and faked my way through my final paper of the semester. I was a bit dismayed when I saw The Sound and the Fury on the reading list for my first college literature class. Before we started reading, however, my professor was somehow able to introduce Faulkner’s style in such a way that I saw him not simply as a storyteller, which is what I thought writers did, but as an artist, a trickster with words, which I have since learned I prefer as a reader.
Two winters ago, I opened my husband’s copy of As I Lay Dying. Something about the tumbling words of his confused characters and the cold, bare trees outside felt right. I wanted to start a tradition of reading Faulkner in late winter last year, but work took over my life and the cold died before I could start Light in August. 2015 felt a little empty without him. This year, I felt a little intimidated: school was again busy, and so far, I had only read YA books this year. The Texas winter may be fast fading, but it’s still February, and Spring Break is weeks away. I’ve got time. I’m making my way through LIA slowly, partly because I only have about 30 minutes to read on weekdays, and partly because I spend much of that time rereading passages to roll in their complexity and beauty, or looking up to ask my husband, who has loved Faulkner far longer than I have, “Why is he so good? Why is he so fucking good?” There is no answer. I can only continue reading, filled with jealousy and awe over his talent, rejoicing in his ability to capture loneliness and memory and time in a way that connects directly to my soul.