''As I Lay Dying'' is a novel by WilliamFaulkner, and arguably among the least MindScrew-like and most comprehensible of his works, and thus a good starting point.
The basic plotline: Addie Bundren, the matriarch of the Bundren family, has died and expressed a wish to be buried in her hometown, Jefferson. Her husband Anse and children Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell and Vardaman comply -- although in many characters' cases, for not-entirely-altruistic reasons -- pack up the corpse and go. This being a Faulkner novel, of course, things go wrong. Very wrong.
!! ''As I Lay Dying'' contains examples of:
* AntiHero: Jewel. Despite being a complete [[JustForPun bastard]], he's arguably the only one of the Bundrens with completely good intentions. And, arguably, the one who cares the most about Addie.
* BeigeProse: "My mother is a fish." This also applies to Cash's sections before he replaces Darl as the objective narrator.
* BackAlleyDoctor: Skeet [=MacGowan=], but blatantly without the "doctor" part.
* BastardBastard: Jewel
* BuryMeNotOnTheLonePrairie: The entire plot.
* CatchPhrase: Among others:
** Cash: "It don't bother me none"
** Jewel: "Goddamn you" and "Shut up, Darl!"
** Darl: "Jewel's mother is a horse"
** Vardaman: "My mother is a fish"
** Kate: "She oughta take them cakes"
* TheChessmaster: Anse, if you believe that he acts stupid and useless ''on purpose'' so that he never has to work a day in his life. [[spoiler: He even ends up getting a new wife, along with his new set of teeth, at Jefferson so that he has a new set of hands to replace Addie.]]
** Addie, whose burial in Jefferson was specifically requested in order to destroy her family.
* CrapsackWorld: It's Faulkner, what do you expect?
* DownerEnding: Oh Anse, you JerkAss, you.
* DueToTheDead: The whole plot, but subverted in that most of the characters are just using it as an excuse.
* DysfunctionalFamily: All Anse cares about is getting new teeth [[spoiler: and a new wife]], most people think Darl is weird because he's clairvoyant, Jewel is angry about ''everything'', and Vardaman thinks his mother is a fish. Dewey Dell is slightly less dysfunctional than the aforementioned, though she does have a slightly incomprehensible dream where she couldn't feel anything, even the fact that she was a woman, except for the cool wind blowing across her naked body. All things considered, Cash seems rather normal, though he obsessed over creating the coffin.
* GenderBlenderName: Jewel is male, not female.
* HolierThanThou: Cora Tull. Contrast Vernon Tull, who's actually a pretty decent guy.
* HumansAreFlawed: Where to start.
* InnerMonologue: Of most of the characters, including [[spoiler: Addie's corpse (maybe)]]
* JerkAss: It's easier to list the characters who aren't.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Jewel, to some.
* KarmaHoudini: Nothing bad ever happens to Anse, despite some underhanded things he did.
** [=MacGowan=] too, who gets away with [[spoiler: raping Dewel Dell.]]
* MeaningfulName: Jewel, because he is Addie's most beloved.
* MindScrew: Not as much as Faulkner's [[Literature/TheSoundAndTheFury other works]], but still; especially concerning [[CassandraTruth Darl]] and [[PosthumousCharacter Addie]].
** In Section 30, Dewey Dell describes a nightmare she had where she could not feel anything, even the fact that she was a girl, and then she felt a "they" beneath her that was "like a piece of cool silk dragged across [her] legs." It's really a metaphor for her repressed sexuality.
* MySignificanceSenseIsTingling: Darl is clairvoyant. Darl narrates the moment of Addie's passing when ''he isn't even in the room.'' He also knows that Jewel is [[spoiler:Addie's illegitimate son]] and that Dewey Dell is pregnant.
* NietzscheWannabe: Darl has his moments, but Addie takes the cake.
** "My mother is a fish."
** Similarly, there's a later chapter consisting of Cash's two-line winding thought that the coffin wasn't balanced properly, ending as suddenly as it begins as he realizes no one is "listening" to him.
* OnlySaneMan: Cash.
* ParentalFavoritism: Jewel is Addie's favorite [[spoiler: largely because he isn't Anse's son. It's a bit more nuanced in the novel, but that's the gist.]]
* PosthumousCharacter: Addie, in one chapter. Sort of.
-->"[Jewel] is my cross and he will be my salvation. He will save me from the water and from the fire. Even though I have laid down my life, he will save me."
-->"Anse. Why Anse. Why are you Anse."
* TheQuietOne: Cash.
* TheRashomon: ''As I Lay Dying'' features fifteen different narrators. The majority of the narration comes from the Bundrens, sans Jewel and Addie who only narrate one section of their own.
* TheStoic: Darl. Hardly ever does Darl display any emotion. He doesn't even become emotional as he narrates the event of Addie being placed in her coffin.
* SanitySlippage: What happens to Darl over the course of the novel, [[spoiler: eventually resulting in his being institutionalized.]]