A Novel Reading Challenge, Part 2

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Source: antalpolony.com

By: Aryanne Ferguson

In a previous post, I confessed my fear of reading Faulkner, then announced that I was going to read As I Lay Dying. Well I did! It wasn’t as bad as I thought (which doesn’t mean I’m going to tackle my even stronger fear of The Sound and the Fury any time soon). I learned plenty from As I Lay Dying, but the most interesting topics were:

  • The different 1st person points of view in the same novel (15 were included here, Reader. 15!)
  • Writing characters who are hard to like (Can someone punch the father? Real hard.)
  • The role of place (Faulkner created a fictional county in which he set his stories. I’ve also seen this in contemporary novels like The Known World by Edward P. Jones, and almost all Stephen King novels.)

Aside from that, what I really learned was not to write off a book or author because I once tried to read something they wrote and failed miserably. The older I get, the more varied are the novels I read, as if all the fiction and years that passed between my first failed Faulkner attempt only prepared me for the second try. I have more compassion for the novel’s themes as my own life gets grayer and grayer. Oh for the simplicity of black and white.

What about you, Reader? Did you ever find a novel – or poem or short story collection – exceedingly boring the first time, and then—years later—it becomes the most fantastic piece you’ve ever read?  This also happened to me with Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. When I was 12 it bored me into falling asleep, but I read it again at about 18 and loved it. Let me know I’m not the only one going through this!

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