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Book reviews for "Blotner,_Joseph_Leo" sorted by average review score:

Light in August (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
Published in Hardcover by Garland Pub (March, 1987)
Authors: William Faulkner and Joseph Leo Blotner
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The South rises
Nothing is ever simple in a Faulkner book. However plainly the people talk, however straightforward that the situations seem, there are layers and layers of things to dig through to find the ultimate truth, if indeed there is any. I've already read Sound and the Fury and as glorious as that book was, this novel absolutely captivated me. It's Faulkner's way with words, he's not flashy like some contemporary authors, preferring to slowly wind his way into your consciousness with his gift of writing. It's only as you read, maybe as you peruse a passage for the second time do you see the little details that you missed the first time out, the choice of a word here, the flow of a paragraph. And his characters, all beautifully drawn, with flaws and cracks and everything, but even the farthest gone of his lowlives has some pearl of wisdom to impart, his pillars all have dark secrets. In short they're just like his, if we lived in the South at the turn of the century. Faulkner captures it all, weaving his characters together with the skill of a master, no seams showing, everything seeming to happen naturally. Even when the story detours to tell someone's backstory, it seems to come at the perfect moment. If I sound a bit fawning, that's because this book deserves it, nothing puts together the picture of a time better than this, and as an aspiring writer I am in sincere awe of Faulkner's ability to reflect even the more complex of emotions with a word or a sentence. He has to be read to be believed and it definitely must be experienced. Just immerse yourself in a time and place thought long gone, that still lurks in the corners of people's thoughts and the traditions that never die.

A highbrow tear-jerker
Faulkner again proved himself a master of American literature with his tragic story of Joe Christmas, a truly unlucky and unloved fellow whose life of rejection has led him to make some truly unwise choices. Crafted in Faulkner's signature intellectual, sometimes verbose, style, this novel is an important examination of some major flaws in the typical American character. We all identify with the characters in this book.

Hope for humanity?
Faulkner's usually troubled and at times brutal writing is interwoven with periodic examples of the best in humankind. In Joe Christmas we see the worst in all of us and the reasons behind it. In this sense Faulkner teaches us a lesson about the difference between explanation and justification. By having Christmas come from seemingly the worst of backgrounds and then committing the worst of crimes creates a stuggle within the reader to understand their own limits of what makes this or that "okay". It is a novel of hope, however, and despite the ruthlessness and cruelty of those on both sides of the law there are characters that are examples of what we, as human should and can be. The true genius of Faulkner lays in the ability he has to lay two extremes and then bring them together into a coherent, poignant, emotional story. Excellent read

Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner
Published in Paperback by Random House Trade Paperbacks (February, 1981)
Authors: William Faulkner and Joseph Leo Blotner
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An Incomplete Un-Collection
Although I have not read all of his short stories, I find Faulkner's tales to be poigniant reflections of American life, without being overtly obvious in their symbolism. The reader draws as much, or as little, as he wishes from Faulkner.

Being a work of 'uncollected' stories, it does not have the consistency as, say, These 13, or others arranged by Faulkner, but it does have its gems.

Consider it the "B-side" to a great album collection, some of which you may otherwise never have read, but worth it read, nonetheless.

Flags in the Dust (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
Published in Hardcover by Garland Pub (March, 1987)
Authors: William Faulkner and Joseph Leo Blotner
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Faulkner's "Flags" Tastes Better Than It Looks
Before I read this book, I kept hearing what a horrible novel it was. However, it isn't horrible; it's just not nearly as fantastic as some of his other works. It's still definitely worth the read, though.

If you can make it through sentences that seem to never end and some repitition, you will find a great story of love, guilt, and Southern life. This book opens with the Sartoris family, and several young men (Bayard Sartoris and others) returning home from World War I, and the impressions war left upon them. Thrown in with a little bit of incest, love notes, and a daredevil, this book provides a good combination of mushiness (sp?), humor, and sorrow.

However, while some have said not to read this book as your first Faulkner, I disagree. And here's why: reading this book after you have read some of his other works really makes you look at this book in a more negative way, since his other works have been so great. Just remember, if this is your first Faulkner read, many of his other works are MUCH BETTER, so if you read this first and don't like it, there are MUCH BETTER ones out there. As far as reading goes, it's a pretty easy read (although you might have to keep track of all the Johns and Bayards), at least in comparison to some of his other books. Also, if you plan on reading other Faulkner books, this one is a MUST, since it introduces you to the Benbrows, Snopes, and the Sartorises-all characters that are found in some of his other novels.

Essential Faulkner
Three-and-a-half-stars. "Flags in the Dust" is the first of Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha novels; it is a must-read for all potential Faulkner fans. It's not his best, by any means--the storyline is at times skittish (perhaps owing to the fact that "Flags" is the uncut, unedited version of what was originally published under the title "Sartoris"), and the characterizations are neither as deep nor as unique as those found in his later works. But "Flags" has charm and importance nonetheless. First, it is a crash course in the Sartoris family, whose many "John"s and "Bayard"s (not to menion the indomitable Granny Millard and Aunt Jenny) comprise a hefty chunk of Faulkner's later novels and short stories. Second, it is absolutely *amazing* (and I can't underscore that enough) to see Faulkner's great novels just beginning to poke through the surface of Jefferson, MS soil: the Snopes family, V.K. Ratliff (here named V.K. Suratt), the McCaslins, the Compsons (I think reference is made even to Thomas Sutpen) all make appearances in the novel. Therefore, I recommend reading "Flags" *after* you've read most of the other Yoknapatawpha novels--the breadth and depth of Faulkner's vision (anticipating or laying the foundation for novels he would write 20 or 30 years later) is truly remarkable, and is half the joy of reading it. (But whenever you read "Flags," at least make sure you've read "The Unvanquished" first--the characters will make far more sense if you do.) As for the story itself: it's convoluted and not always engrossing--though the angst of young Bayard (silently mourning the wartime death of his brother John) is portrayed achingly well, and Aunt Jenny remains one of Faulkner's most powerful leading ladies.

Good Writing
Though not as complex and difficult as some of his more famous works, Flags in the Dust provides some outstanding writing. It may benefit some to read The Unvanquished prior to this book as it gives some background on the Sartoris family, the main focus of Flags. Many of Faulkner's descriptions in this book are uncanny. I would have only given this book four stars, but his two-page description of the mule was alone worth one more star.

Faulkner: A Biography
Published in Hardcover by Random House (March, 1974)
Author: Joseph Leo Blotner
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A useful but deeply flawed biography.
Blotner did a prodigious amount of research for this biography. Any later writer who wants to produce a biography of Faulkner will inevitably find himself or herself relying on much of Blotner's work. The reader, however, will not be so grateful. Blotner seems incapable of distinguishing between that which is important and that which is not. It seems as though he has dumped almost everything he learned into this book. And he learned quite a lot. Why we need, for example, to know the names of everyone Faulkner came into contact with? Finally, Blotner is not a gifted writer; his style is typical of the academic. I can only hope someone writes a shorter, more readable biography of Faulkner someday.

Blotner's compendium of Faulkner's life.
Originally published in two volumes, Joseph L. Blotner's biography of the imminent writer of the American South, William Faulkner, is often touted as THE chronicle of Faulkner's life. Blotner's style is really quite readable. Indeed, this text is so accessible, one must question his accountability on some instances of Faukner's words to friends and loved ones. (Who really remembers what his wife's father said to him on a particular day--famous or not?) All in all, though, this chronicle sits on the top of the biographical heap for the time being. And it probably won't be displaced for many years to come.

Soldiers' Pay (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
Published in Hardcover by Garland Pub (November, 1987)
Authors: William Faulkner and Joseph Leo Blotner
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Proto Faulkner, for [enthusiasts] only
This book is a piece of history, but that's all it is. This was when Faulkner was hanging out in New Orleans with Sherwood Anderson, and Anderson told Faulkner if he wrote a book, he would get his publisher to print it. This and Mosquitoes are the result. They are both terrible, and it takes longer to read them than it took Faulkner to write them.

The interesting thing here is Faulkner's obsession with the war hero and the tragedy of war cliche's. Remember also, that Faulkner was walking around in a pilot's uniform that he made himself after failing to join the air force. This book is very much the same thing, and for that point, it's interesting. It's amazing that such a dolt became one of the true voices of wisdom for the century. The upside of this book is that it lets you know you have plenty of time to develop. If you love the guy, you'll read this anyway, but you can save your time and skip Soldier's Pay and Mosquitoes. Save them for when you've already developed an obsession.

Faulkner half baked
This early novel by William Faulkner is interesting as an example of where his style and focus were as a very young writer, before both had settled into the predicatable Faulkner voice of his later and better known books. I enjoyed the book more when I first read it, I think, than I do now. But one thing has still not changed. I can remember having to read certain passages over and over and still not being sure what they were about. I still don't know. There are those who think this deliberate ambiguity is a plus but I prefer to be able to follow the plot of a book. I don't even mind working at it, as one must with a number of writers. But it is frustrating to come up against an impenetrable hedge of words that crowds out meaning, and this happens a lot with Faulkner.

I have read almost all of Faulkner's books and enjoyed many, if not most, of them. Frequently moving and always interesting, these books deserve a special place on the bookshelf of American literature. But admit it, often Faulkner - even in his later books - uses words the same way that Jackson Pollock used paint. He sprays, splatters and dribbles them into a squiqqly mess that might, like a good Pollock, be pleasing or meaningful in an 'abstract expressionist' way, but simply doesn't make sense on a purely cognative and narrative level. There is less of that in Soldier's Pay than one gets later, but you can sure see it coming.

Overshaddowed, but still extraordinary
Many people who review this book give it a bad rating because they have read Faulkner before and expect his writing to be of a certain style and intellectual caliber. Perhaps this book is not quite up to the level that people are expecting, but when you compare it with much of the other literature available dramatizing this time period (just after World War I) in a fictional manner, this book stands out as being a simply extraordinary peice of literature. While it lacks much of Faulkner's later literary intuitiveness, this book still demonstrates true Faulknerian style with its soap-opera-ish manner of storytelling and robust character development. Even this, one of Faulkner's least talked about and least admired novels, is better than the work of 99.9% of the authors writing today. What people consider "bad" as a Faulkner book is still leaps and bounds ahead of what other writers are able to produce. I found this book to be an excellent stepping-stone into Faulkner's style and literary skill from less "deep" books. I would definitely recommend reading this book first before reading other Faulkner novels. Once you finish this one, THEN try another book directly after this one - his style will be much easier to follow and understand.

Overall, a wonderful book for discussion and reflection!

Light in August: Typescript (Faulkner Manuscripts Ser.)
Published in Hardcover by Garland Pub (June, 1987)
Authors: William Faulkner, William Faulker, and Joseph Leo Blotner
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The Political Novel
Published in Hardcover by Greenwood Publishing Group (June, 1979)
Author: Joseph Leo Blotner
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Short Stories: Holograph Manuscripts and Typescripts (William Faulkner Manuscripts)
Published in Hardcover by Garland Pub (March, 1987)
Authors: William Faulkner and Joseph Leo Blotner
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