If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by William Faulkner
In this feverishly beautiful novel—originally titled If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem by Faulkner, and now published in the authoritative Library of America text—William Faulkner interweaves two narratives, each wholly absorbing in its own right, each subtly illuminating the other. In New Orleans in 1937, a man and a woman embark on a headlong flight into the wilderness of illicit passion, fleeing her husband and the temptations of respectability. In Mississippi ten years earlier, a convict sets forth across a flooded river, risking his own chance at freedom to rescue a pregnant woman. From these separate stories Faulkner composes a symphony of deliverance and damnation, survival and self-sacrifice, a novel in which elemental danger is juxtaposed wiht fatal injuries of the spirit. The Wild Palms is grandly inventive, heart-stopping in its prose, and suffused on every page with the physical presence of the country that Faulkner made his own.