That Evening Sun – William Faulkner

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It’s been one of those weeks, and I must confess when I first read this my mind just wasn’t in it. That may be why I fought my way through during my initial read. I had to sometimes read things over again just to figure out what was being said and, to be honest, I found that incredibly annoying. I struggled with what seemed like grammatical flaws and purposeful misspellings. I had trouble with the diction itself and, at times, I found the dialogue almost mockingly horrendous—even flamboyantly racist here and there. There were moments when I found myself scratching my head, like at the seemingly superfluous use of the word “nigger” and asking myself did the author really say that… again?   

That said there was a point where everything just clicked for me. I found the rhythm and a purpose in the redundancies. I started feeling what Faulkner was attempting to accomplish and it began flowing for me somehow. The story started coming together and it gripped me powerfully. Suddenly, I was amazed how my perception could be swayed so quickly and so strongly, and what felt like a poor first impression became a potential lifelong friendship. When I started I couldn’t wait to finish and when I finished I started over and read it again.

I typed this paragraph so I could print it and post in my office:

Nancy whispered something. It was oh or no. I don’t know which. Like nobody had made it, like it came from nowhere and went nowhere, until it was like Nancy was not there at all; that I had looked so hard at her eyes on the stairs that they had got printed on my eyeballs, like the sun does when you have closed your eyes and there is no sun. “Jesus,” Nancy whispered. “Jesus.”

The way this paragraph is bookended with Nancy’s whisper with the narrator’s frightened, confused and innocent thoughts set in the middle really made this work for me.

I wish I could write sentences so awesomely authentic. Maybe I can. Thinking back to Prose and what she says about studying sentences, maybe I need to study these types of sentences more, break them down and figure out what caused my change of heart and inspired this connection. I don’t know. What I do know is that it takes courage to write something that people might not fully understand or even feel comfortable reading.

It took courage to write this and now I get that. 

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