Yesterday I introduced Hot Latin Boy to one of my three favorite Williams: William Faulkner.
He’ll have to wait for the other two: my brother is in Texas and my grandfather is in Heaven –places easily confused, though rarely in summer– but Faulkner was ready and able, sitting nestled between James Thurber and E.B. White in a oddly assembled short story anthology that serves as the only decent volume in an otherwise abysmal collection of forgotten books I found tucked among the spiders in Plumcake Cottage’s ornately carved linen cupboard.
Waiting for my wrist to heal has kept me off sweet lady internet and back to the loving arms of actual printed books. I’ve been crabby at the internet anyway. I understand the shift to new media, but I have a hard time accepting well-written editorials and investigative reporting are essentially being replaced by pictures of kittens and we, as educated, thoughtful citizens of the world are letting it.
The Faulkner in question was the quietly terrifying That Evening Sun. Narrated by 9 year-old Quentin Compson–one of Faulkner’s most frequent characters– it tells the story of Nancy, a black washerwoman in the service of the white Compson family. Nancy, having been accused by her violent common-law husband Jesus of becoming pregnant by a white man, pleads for protection from the Compsons, eventually using Quentin and his two young siblings as a sort of human shield against Jesus, who she was convinced was lying in wait for her, razor in hand.
It was a little dark for a bedtime story –HLB and I alternate reading short stories aloud each night– so I wanted to end on a happier note.
Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, delivered December 10, 1950 has long been a favorite. While my fellow Deeply Misunderstood Youth were building altars to the golden god of all insufferable teenagers, Holden Caulfield, I was holed up reading the news from Yoknapatawpha County. ( it gives me great pleasure to see Google spell check recognizes Yoknapatawpha but puts the red squiggle of doom under Caulfield. Suck it, Salinger. -ed)
If you’ve never read it, do yourself an existential solid and click over to the Nobel Prize website to read five short paragraphs that might inspire, challenge and provoke you. After that, the pictures of kittens are up to you.