The Economist asks: Why don’t more people read William Faulkner? Excerpt:
The six works represented—eight if you count “Snopes” as a trilogy—is quite simply an unassailable fortress of literary perfection, positively reeking with excellence, and shining like a beacon of human enlightenment into the icy cosmos. That one can rightfully proclaim this without a twinge of doubt raises the question: Why is Faulkner so underread? Most people when they hear “Yoknapatawpha” might think it’s a trending baby name in Detroit.
It may very well be regional. In most English classrooms in the South, Faulkner is hard to evade. I spent an entire year of high school sitting in front of a “Light in August” poster. I would daydream at the title and the grainy shafts of light that lambently danced through the branches onto a sepia dirt road. I wanted to amble down it and see where it would lead. I had no idea that it led to a black-blooded castration in the kitchen of a defrocked, civil war-obsessed minister, but you live and learn. It is true, though, Faulkner is not for everyone.
One of my best friends in high school was assigned “The Sound and the Fury” in his AP English class. He took it home, opened it, and promptly hurled it across the room. Picking it up, I decided to take a crack at it just to be contrarian and to see what could make my normally sensible and brainy friend into a Faulkner-cursing lunatic.
I know it’s heresy, but I, as a resident of Faulkner Country, am with the Faulkner-Cursing Lunatic. I’ve tried to read the man, I really have. Granted, I am not a big fan of fiction, but on paper, Faulkner’s work is made for me. And yet, I hate that prose of his. Hate it. I keep thinking I’m going to mature into it, so every few years, I’ll pull one of the Faulkner novels we’ve accumulated over the years off the shelf and try to read it … and give up after a few pages. Was he drunk when he wrote this? I think. The poor man needed punctuation like the hill people need dentistry. Too many people whose opinions I respect revere Faulkner, but to me, theirs is a mystery religion.
Your mileage may vary, and probably does.