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Faulkner for Friday | Manolo for the Big Girl

Faulkner for Friday

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.

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “Faulkner for Friday”

  1. Lisa in SoCal June 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Ohhhhh Faulkner. I can say without reservation that reading Light in August when I was about 12 or so completely changed my life.

    I have to say I like Catcher in the Rye, too. There is something pretty masterful about a writer who is capable of capturing the little snot voice so effectively. For all the angry adolescents who hold Holden dear…I think they rather missed Salinger’s point, as I always thought Salinger was making a comment about adolescent ingratitude (Holden really doesn’t have that much to complain about, in the larger scheme of things, really, but he is so unused to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that he thinks he is quite put upon. )

  2. AnthroK8 June 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Reading out loud= best. date. ever.

    And I am with you on Nobel Acceptance Speeches as terrific in general. AND on Holden Caulfield as being a twerp. Bleh.

  3. maryann June 24, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    My husband had to go on a business trip to Tupelo, MS some years ago. I joined him, since I’d never been south of St. Louis. We stayed nearby in Oxford, right near Ole Miss. I spent a lovely week reading Faulkner and visiting his home, which is on campus. It was one of the hottest weeks of the summer, but I enjoyed having that time to soak in Faulkner.
    And ditto on Caulfield. Couldn’t stand him.

  4. Patience June 24, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    You’re right, it is a great speech. Today, the fear of nuclear annihilation has been replaced by the fear of environmental annhiliation, but the effect is the same. “…the basest of all things is to be afraid.” I’ll have to remember that.