Faulkner's second novel is a high-spirited satiric romp set on an ill-fated pleasure cruise out of New Orleans.
Wealthy Mrs. Maurier, the widowed heiress of an old New Orleans family, likes to collect "artistic types." When she plans a multi-day outing on her yacht and manages to corral aboard a group that includes a melancholic poet, a brooding sculptor, a self-important writer, her unconventional young niece, and assorted other odd characters, the results are both disastrous and hilarious. When the ship runs aground near an overheated swamp, the pretensions and frustrations of its various passengers reach a fever pitch. Faulkner's lyrical descriptions, witty dialogue, and forays into fluid stream-of-consciousness demonstrate in lighter form the literary techniques that the young author later came to be so celebrated for.