William Faulkner was a master of the short story. Most of the pieces in this collection are drawn from the greatest period in his writing life, the fifteen or so years beginning in 1929, when he published The Sound and the Fury. They explore many of the themes found in the novels and feature characters of small-town Mississippi life that are uniquely Faulkner’s.
In “A Rose for Emily,” the first of his stories to appear in a national magazine, a straightforward, neighborly narrator relates a tale of love, betrayal, and murder. The vicious family of the Snopes trilogy turns up in “Barn Burning,” about a son’s response to the activities of his arsonist father. And Jason and Caddy Compson, two other inhabitants of Faulkner’s mythical Yoknapatawpha County, are witnesses to the terrorizing of a pregnant black laundress in “That Evening Sun.” These and the other stories gathered here attest to the fact that Faulkner is, as Ralph Ellison so aptly noted, “the greatest artist the South has produced.”
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This collection is a good, diverse mix. I cannot add anything to the discussions of symbolism etc. But I was pleasantly surprised by Fauklner’s stories in two ways. From previous reading of some of his work, I had no idea that he had such a good sense of humor, but it is evident in this collection. I also appreciated his story “Mountain Victory,” about the lingering effects of war, on those who fight, and how some people can't let go of their anger even after a war is over. In that particular story, a Northern patriarch wants to kill a Confederate homeless man, because they were on opposite sides in the war, which has been over for awhile. The man just can’t let go of his hatred and anger, even though the event was over - very poignant story. I won’t give away any spoilers, but it was a poignant story. Good collection for people who enjoy classics.