Definitely a masterpiece, with Faulkner at his constricted best. On the surface, it's about a family setting off to bury their mother according to her wishes. Thing is, she's already in the coffin atop of the wagon, and the buzzards are taking notice. But the stench and carrion are nothing compared to the violent acts of hate, lust, meanness, despair, and of course love displayed by the "mourners" along their journey. When the mother's coffin falls off the wagon and cracks open into a swollen river, her youngest son doesn't understand the scene, and all he can say is "My mother is a fish." Only Faulkner!
As a creative work, it is indeed a masterpiece; however, I sometimes feel that writers such as Faulkner and Joyce who experimented with stream of consciousness and point of view to the degree that they did often missed the point of communicating their ideas. The average reader will find Faulkner challenging at best, and frustrating at worst. Joyce even moreso. The Mark Twains and O.Henrys of the world wanted their writing to be understood clearly - and so they wrote clearly. To argue that their work is less literary than Faulkner's, however, would be to argue that literature must by necessity be an obfuscation of communication.
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