So far in this little experiment, Intruder In The Dust has turned out to be the hardest of the books to write about. Not because Intruder In The Dust is bad, or good, or mediocre, or hard to understand, rather because it’s the fourteenth Faulkner novel I’ve now read in a row. I think I’ve reached a point where the books (at least momentarily) have ceased to surprise.
Again, this is no condemnation of the book. I enjoyed Intruder In The Dust quite a bit. I just don’t know that I have much to say about it.
So, let me talk about someone completely different from Faulkner, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock is one of my favorite movie directors, and no one could make a plausible argument that he isn’t one of the most highly regarded directors of all time. He was a working director. The IMDb credits him as having directed 69 films. No artist—commercial or otherwise—produces that many works and have every one be a masterpiece.
Topaz, for example, is an Alfred Hitchcock movie that is not all that great. Sure, you can argue that even bad Hitchcock is better than most movies. But if you never saw Psycho, or Rear Window or North by Northwest, and you knew Hitchcock only through Topaz, you may wonder what all the hubbub is about.
So it goes with Faulkner. He wrote throughout his life. It’s how he earned his living. As such, not every thing he wrote was a working of staggering genius.
Slight tangent: My copy of Intruder In The Dust notes on the back cover that it was published six years after his previous novel–the longest period Faulkner went without publishing a new novel. This is due to the fact that at the time he was trying to earn money by writing movies in Hollywood. Novels don’t pay all the bills.
Intruder In The Dust breaks no new ground with Faulkner. He’s not experimenting with form—although I suppose a few passages could be called stream-of-consciousness—nor is he flipping the story around out of chronological order.
It’s a good book. It’s not his best. But it’s not bad. This is what happens when you keep making new stuff.