Years ago, Stephen King used to write a column in Entertainment Weekly. I loved his columns. They varied from commentaries on pop culture to top 10 lists and recommendations of books, tv shows, and movies. Here is a link to his articles. I always loved his top 10 lists. One in particular was interesting, given the subject matter and the author. King listed his top 10 book villains of all time. Seeing as though several of his own characters fit into this category, I was curious to see who he selected. Here is his list 10. Max Cady (Cape Fear) 9. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men) 8. Popeye (Sanctuary) 7. Big Brother (1984) 6. Harry Powell (Night of the Hunter) 5. Rhoda Penmark (The Bad Seed) 4. Voldemort 3. Sauron 2. Pazazu (the Exorcist) 1. Dracula. Rather interesting list. For the record, he puts Annie Wilkes as number one SK villain. At some point this list got stuck in my head and I was curious to see if I agree with how awful these characters are.
My exposure to Faulkner is limited to As I Lay Dying (hated it) and A Rose for Emily (loved it), so I was unsure where Sanctuary would fall. From a preliminary investigation, I realized that Sanctuary fell closer on the spectrum to Emily than to Dying, so I was encouraged. The story is fairly basic. A girl gets taken to an illegal distillery (this was during Prohibition) by her boyfriend, left there by said boyfriend, then horrific things happen to her. Because of Faulkner’s style, the incidents aren’t explicit, which was nice because some of the things that do happen really shouldn’t be described in detail.
Overall, the book was just okay. So somewhere in between the two exposures I have had. I completely agree that Popeye truly is a world class villain, considering all that he does to the girl. But I can’t say I would necessarily recommend this book. It just left me cold. Not because of the subject matter- I’ve read worse. But because of Faulkner’s approach to it all.