Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Bear

I’ve tried to get serious about William Faulkner novels a couple times. When we lived in France back in 1988, and I hardly had any English books to read, I plodded through Absolom, Absolom and As I Lay Dying and I couldn’t help thinking some sort of emperor’s new clothes thing was going on; I mean, the man was obviously a genius and could turn a phrase like no other, but why did he have to make everything so opaque? It’s like when you see a movie and it’s in reverse chronology, like Memento, that’s when you know that there’s something lame with the story and the director figured the only way anyone’s going to tune in is if you turn things around so it’s like some kind of puzzle to be figured out, even though if it were presented normally, there wouldn’t really be any “there” there.

But now, it being summer and having plenty of time on my hands and wanting to fill some of those hours with something at least a tiny bit intellectually challenging, I’ve picked up Faulkner’s collection of stories, Go Down, Moses, and have been taking on his celebrated novella, The Bear, and have, for the most part, been amazed, intrigued, and quite moved by it.

The endless mea culpas for slavery I could do with less of but the dramatic unfolding of the hunt for Old Ben completely captivated me, especially how the relationship between the Boy and his companion Boon emerged. I especially liked the scene where they go to Memphis and Boon wants a dollar to go into a bar and the boy is at first reluctant but then recalls how a few years earlier Boon saved him from the “wild never-bridled Texas paint pony,” by grapping its reins when it bolted, “Boon vanishing rapidly on his stomach in the leaping and spurting dust and still holding the reins until they broke too.”

“He gave Boon the dollar.”


Post a Comment

<< Home