The second book on my top ten list is actually three books, the Snopes Trilogy by William Faulkner – The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion. Adding any Faulkner book (or three) to this list is a bit tricky because today he is considered by some a racist not worthy of inclusion on any best-of list. Was he a racist? Possibly. There is evidence for and against. Either way, Faulkner novels are powerful. His body of work is unmatched by any other American writer. With the Snopes Trilogy, he is at the top of his craft. The Hamlet, the first book of the series, introduces the Snopes family and the infamous Yoknapatawpha County, the setting for 17 of his novels. Through force of will, Flem Snopes, who comes from nowhere, dominates the rural community of Frenchman’s Bend. The Town follows Flem’s attempt to expand his power and The Mansion tells how Mink Snopes initiates Flem’s downfall.
Why read these books? Faulkner books are sad, funny, violent, tender, and sometimes frustrating but always powerful. You don’t just read them, you live them. If you’ve never read Faulkner before, be aware, his use of inner dialogue, multiple points of view and a wondering time frame can be confusing. If you get lost, stick with the story, he tends to repeat the plot from more than one point of view and eventually confusion becomes clear.