Banned Book Week — Light in August by: William Faulkner
Reviewed by: Steve Capell
There are most likely more than a few reasons that this novel is considered a banned book. Faulkner’s novel centers on race, violence, and sex and if those three things were not enough to get this novel in hall of fame of being banned then you could add Faulkner’s colorful language. Faulkner weaves together three different plots and this summary will in no way do justice to the rich writing that Faulkner exhibits through out this amazing novel that was published in 1932.
The main protagonists are Joe Christmas, Gail Hightower, Lena Grove and Byron Bunch. Joe Christmas is the main character that the plot revolves around. Lena opens the novel searching for the father of her child. She finds Byron Bunch who very much wants to marry Lena, but she is only concerned with finding her baby’s father. Byron helps to tell the reader another story where a girl’s relationship with a circus man gets her in trouble, and produces a son named Joe Christmas. Joe Christmas is abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as a child. Joe’s life at the orphanage is filled with chaos and when he is finally adopted by Mr. McEachern, and his wife his life is far from being much better. His new father beats him frequently. Joe grows up and eventually meets Bobbie, a prostitute who works as a waitress in the nearby town. When Mr. McEachern catches his son at a dance with Bobbie, they get into a fight, and Joe kills his father by smashing a chair over his head. Joe now finds that he has been abandoned by Bobbie and he ends up staying in a cabin owned by Joanna Burden. Joanna and Joe fall in love, but there relationship is very dysfunctional. Faulkner brings into the story Reverend Gail Hightower. Gail Hightower is a character that has been cast out from his society. Hightower has some quirky ideas and although he is a reverend his ability to bring peace into all the chaos that surrounds Joe Christmas and Byron Bunch is far from his capability. The climax of this novel left me absolutely stunned.
Faulkner is one of those authors where you absolutely love him or hate him. There’s no middle ground. I first read this amazing novel in college and with term papers, quizzes, and tests eating up every living moment of every day I found myself pressed to really set down and read this novel and allow the literature to sink into my soul, take root and survive. This time around I allowed the novel to completely engulf me and at times I found myself reading different chapters more than once. Faulkner descriptive language allows the reader to feel, smell, touch, and vision right from your favorite reading chair. I can only say that I’m glad I took the time to give this amazing novel one more read.
When Sheila with Book Journey posted that she would be sponsoring a banned book week contest on her web site I was in the middle of reading Light in August by Faulkner. I immediately emailed her and I’m so happy that she allowed me to be part of her contest. Each day of this week you will need to go to Book Journey web site to get the next blog so that you can collect all the clues. Below is the clue for Monday September 26th. Good luck and may you find one special banned book this week to read.
In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I purchased this book and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”