Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jayne Anne Phillips pays homage to The Sound and the Fury

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

--William Shakespeare, “Macbeth,” Act V, Scene v

Jayne Anne Phillips pays homage to fellow Southerner William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury in her remarkable new novel, Lark and Termite (January 2009), the story of a West Virginia family struggling to survive at the time of the Korean War. Both novels feature four points of view, stream-of-consciousness narratives, and mentally impaired characters with special gifts of vision and understanding.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Lorraine Adams said, “Phillips reinvigorates and transforms the Faulknerian infrastructure. Female voices, not the chorus of brothers Jason and Quentin, dominate in Lark and Termite…. While Faulkner chronicled the decay of the South through its men, Phillips adumbrates the nobility of Appalachia, of Korean refugees, of the least of us, by taking us into the “shaky territory” of women….”

Note: Fiction writer Jayne Anne Phillips will visit the Writers Institute on Tuesday, January 27, 2009. She will hold an informal workshop at 4:15 PM in Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus, 1400 Washington Ave. In the evening, at 8 PM, Phillips will read from and discuss her new novel Lark and Termite in the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus.