Maybe it would have helped if I knew more about it before I read it. But if I had known more about it, I probably never would have read it at all.
There are many people out there who will disagree with me, but I have to be honest about my reaction. I strongly disliked this book, and I don't understand why it's a classic.
The stream-of-consciousness thing wasn't so bad. It did make the first chapter hard to follow, although that was more because it was narrated by mentally challenged Benji, who really didn't have a clear idea of what was going on anyway. (Sidenote: That made it extremely hard to figure out who was who at the beginning. Especially when a character I thought was male was suddenly referred to as "she." What?? At least that made sense eventually, as I kept reading.)
The stream-of-consciousness style was interesting. That wasn't what troubled me about this book. My problem is that this book is essentially about incest. Why would you feel a need to write a book about that? And is that supposed to be the part that's so profound that this book becomes a classic? The family's troubled. I get it. But that didn't make me feel attached to them or want to cheer for them. It made me want to yell, "Get it together already!"
There's a quote from Malcolm Cowley on the back of my copy. It says, "Faulkner performed a labor of imagination that has not been equaled in our time. . . First, to invent a Mississippi county that was like a mythical kingdom, but was complete and living in all its details; second, to make his story of Yoknapatawpha County stand as a parable or legend of all the Deep South."
A parable of all the Deep South? I think if I lived in the South, I would be highly insulted at the idea that this book represents me. That probably just means that I didn't really understand the depths of this book at all. But really, I'm okay with that.