Ahhh…Faulkner. I’m gonna give him another go at some point. Probably in the spring. I’m good with Welty. I appreciate the dark, overwrought genius of Flannery. A Dickey poem or two still resonates even though he was a misogynistic turd. And thanks to Pat Conroy, I’m gonna give Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel another try. If Pat gleaned half as much from it as he says he did, then I’ve gotta give it another go. But something ruined me for Faulkner in college. It’s been too long ago to recall the exact circumstances but I do remember the physical manifestations of pain associated with my Faulkner reading assignment. Anyone care to suggest a short-in-length Faulkner story that would be good for my reorientation? …because if I bottom out again with him, I’m probably done for life.
Faulkner intrigues me in rather predictable and obvious ways. I know what it’s like to be “southern”…with all of the good and bad that goes along with it. I was reminded this week when I was back in the woods of north Georgia, literally, that remnants of the bigoted Deep South still exist. Faulkner was of two centuries and his incongruence and obtuseness intrigues me. Probably because I’ve never felt a complete absence of those dynamics personally…even when, or maybe more so when, I’m alone with my thoughts.
Faulkner reveled in his southern-ness and perhaps more precisely, his Oxford-ness but didn’t seem to mind a basking intermittently in other more contemporary or less provincial realms.
He appeared to loathe Hollywood but he didn't refuse the opportunity to do work out “there” …typing in the sunshine and basking in paychecks that were neither late nor rubber.
Aviators…pipe…typewriter. A shirtless Faulkner in Hollywood. You can't buy style. Even rural, southern aplomb can't be bought at the farm co-op in the Delta.
1957-1958 saw Faulkner at the University of Virginia. The writer in residence gave several public talks while at UVA and if you’re remotely of my ilk, you might enjoy hearing Faulkner's voice. God bless those UVA operatives who decided to tape the Faulkner lectures.
I became well acquainted with a local intellectual property attorney about ten years ago. He represented us in a litigious matter…thankfully, quite well. He was at UVA amidst Faulkner and even though most of my meetings with our attorney were stressful and anything but fun, I enjoyed his stories of interacting with the man from Mississippi.
And then…there was a pair of Faulkner’s shoes. Let me just say that I had an “experience” with a woman in Richmond a few years back. We were talking about her connection to the Faulkner family…I won’t divulge the full nature of the connection but suffice it to say that it was bona fide, long in tenure and she was more than a collateral relation to the clan. “Do you want to see his shoes?” she asked. Well of course I did and she emerged with a pair of old brogue lace up work shoes. I sat with Faulkner. At least with his shoes, while sipping cocktails and angling for my next move with the Faulkner shoe owner. The three of us—just sitting there.
Faulkner scholars may know something about whether or not he manifested an affect…whether some of his rumpled-tattered-squire persona was concocted. I certainly don’t know, but his sartorial patination seems authentic to me. Now if someone can just help me with his stories.
Onward. Rumpled-tattered and anything but authentic.