This book transported me back to my high school days, but not because of the subject matter. I spent a lot of time on SparkNotes trying to understand Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner.
I ordered this novel on a whim. By whim I mean Stephanie Danler suggested it and said it contributed to the style of her writing. So I obviously wanted to read it.
I was wrong. I admit it. I believed that there were things which still mattered just because they had mattered once. But I was wrong. Nothing matters but breath, breathing, to know and to be alive.
The story itself is a great one, but it was so incredibly difficult for me to follow for two reasons. Imagine a narrator sharing what another character is retelling of a story of someone else. I just confused myself writing that sentence. This style results in a stream of consciousness storytelling, which feels natural in the way it is told. The other difficultly I had was that this book takes place in the 1800s. I didn’t think I would struggle so much with the dialect of the characters.
…only the peak feels so sound and stable that the beginning of the falling is hidden for a little while…
The premise of the story can be found in the title: the Biblical story of Absalom, a son of David who rebelled against his father (then King of Kingdom of Israel) and who was killed by David’s general Joab in violation of David’s order to deal gently with his son, causing heartbreak to David.
This book is a different time period, different characters, but the plot remains the same.
Maybe nothing ever happens once and is finished. Maybe happen is never once but like ripples maybe on water after the pebble sinks, the ripples moving on, spreading, the pool attached by a narrow umbilical water-cord to the next pool which the first pool feeds, has fed, did feed, let this second pool contain a different temperature of water, a different molecularity of having seen, felt, remembered, reflect in a different tone the infinite unchanging sky, it doesn’t matter: that pebble’s watery echo whose fall it did not even see moves across its surface too at the original ripple-space, to the old ineradicable rhythm.
I have been wanting to challenge myself by reading older books, especially classics, as this story is one. Definitely not something I loved reading, but I’m glad I tried to expand my reading palate.