Oh, you’ve never seen this cover before? That would make sense, because it’s actually a concert poster, courtesy of Christian metalcore band “As I Lay Dying.” From that one Wikipedia disambiguation, I think I can say that I’d pay like a hundred dollars not to have to meet them. And that’s saying something because right now I’m in London bleeding money out of my scroll-festooned skull.
I love this book, though. If you haven’t read it, you need to–it will change your idea of what a book can do, how miraculous it is that these artificialities like plot and setting and character and diction can combine seamlessly to make something so piercingly, grindingly direct–and if you are unaware of Southern gothic, don’t be anymore, because really it explains so much about our particular national brand of lunacy and wrongfulness and despair. As I Lay Dying is about a mother dying and her family trying to bring her to a resting place, and her children are, in turn, impaired/psychic/pregnant/delusional, and like, the body is just rotting away and everything is nuts. There are many, many lines that will remain in your head–Dewey Dell, horrifically young and sensual, feeling like “a wet seed wild in the hot blind earth”–Vardaman, the tiny little boy stating flatly, “My mother is a fish”–and Addie, the narrating corpse, saying, “Sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words.” Read it.
There was one time last year when my roommate and I were a bit under the influence and I yelled down the stairs, “Tory what are you doing” and she yells back “I’m ready to go out, I’m just reading As I Lay Dying again” and then we both simultaneously burst out laughing for like half an hour because of the thought of “As I Lay Dying Again,” the apocryphal sequel, and then the entire series’ worth of possibilities based on whatever you were doing while you were reading As I Lay Dying–like “Yeah, I picked up As I Lay Dying: At The Bookstore” or “Oh, hold on, I just want to finish As I Lay Dying: Before Gossip Girl Starts.”