Report a Faulkner Sighting!
Unlike famous fellow Mississippian Elvis Presley, William Faulkner is probably more likely to be cited than sighted. But like The King, Faulkner is still very much a part of our collective memory and often acts as a point of reference in pop culture venues like movies and television shows.
For example, the 1992 movie Barton Fink is thought by many to contain numerous references to Faulkner's life. The character of the Southern novelist turned screenwriter, W. P. Mayhew, resembles Faulkner in that he "whores" himself to Hollywood, drinks a great deal, and has an affair while living in CA. And Barton Fink himself has something in common with Faulkner; both were asked to write a "wrestling picture." It helped that the actor who played Mayhew (John Mahoney) bore a striking resemblance to Faulkner. Joel Coen, who co-wrote the film with his brother, Ethan, claimed, "[John Mahoney] really does resemble Faulkner, physically. . .Although, the character in Barton Fink, obviously--outside of the physical resemblance and the fact that he's an alcoholic--he really doesn't resemble Faulkner very much in any other respect." We should hope not--one of the subplots of the movie revolves around the fact that Mayhew isn't really a writer at all. His secretary is the creative genius behind his famous name. And Faulkner didn't even have a secretary in Hollywood. Or did he????
Send your sighting to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently Reported Sightings
In The New York Times, December 2, 2012, there is an article “A Stalwart of Time Inc. Packs Up” on John Huey vacating his office and leaving his position as Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief. In his office on the 34th floor of the Time & Life building on the wall is a photograph of William Faulkner, “the patron saint of all hard-drinking Southern writers,” as Mr. Huey, a native of Atlanta, describes him.—Edward Belk Perry
As many folks have probably noticed from simply Googling As I Lay Dying, there is a metal band of the same name that has been around for ten years or so. --Ben West ______________
The Joy Division song "The Eternal" was allegedly written about a boy who lived near singer and lyricist Ian Curtis. The boy had some mental problems, and was not allowed beyond the family garden. Years later, Curtis was struck by the fact that the boy had grown up, but his world was still the same small restricted space. The lyrics are:
Procession moves on, the shouting is over,
Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone.
Talking aloud as they sit round their tables,
Scattering flowers washed down by the rain.
Stood by the gate at the foot of the garden,
Watching them pass like clouds in the sky,
Try to cry out in the heat of the moment,
Possessed by a fury that burns from inside.
Cry like a child, though these years make me older,
With children my time is so wastefully spent,
A burden to keep, though their inner communion,
Accept like a curse an unlucky deal.
Played by the gate at the foot of the garden,
My view stretches out from the fence to the wall,
No words could explain, no actions determine,
Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall.
There is some speculation that the song may also be about Benjy Compson. --Verchul Jones _______________
The Austin, TX band Zeitgeist included a song called "The Sound and the Fury" on its 1985 album, TRANSLATE SLOWLY (DB Records). The band subsequently changed its name to . . . The Reivers.--Jay Watson
Jean Seberg in the movie Breathless quotes If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem: "Between grief and nothing, I will take grief." I think she may also be reading Faulkner at some point. --William Yate
Jack Matthews referred to an episode of "Mad Men" (Episode 12 of Season 2) in a recent talk and pointed out that a character named Joy, a young woman whom Don has slept with, is reading The Sound and the Fury. Don tears out the last page of the Appendix with which to write down an address while he's on the phone. Peter Lurie In the film Some Came Running (1958) Frank Sinatra's character unpacks The Portable Faulkner on arriving at his hotel. --Sarah Gleeson-White In an episode of "Will and Grace," Will is reading Light in August, although the title has been obscured. –Theresa Towner The excellent television series "American Gothic" featured in one episode a strange brutal mythical character whose name was Wash Sutpen. If that wasn't enough of a tip of the hat, at another point they drag out the "past is never dead" quote too. --Verchul Jones
In the fourth episode of The Walking Dead (AMC series), a character is asked why, when the world has fallen, does he still wind his watch to keep time: "I like what the Father said to his son when he gave him a watch that had been handed down through generations. He said, 'I give you a mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs no better than it did mine or my father's before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it for a moment now and then and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.'" -- Kristi Rowan Humphreys
In the recent Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, Inez (Rachel McAdams) tells Gil (Owen Wilson) to stop living in the past. Gil responds, "'The past is never dead. It's not even past.' And you know who said that? William Faulkner! I met him the other night, too." -- Kristi Rowan Humphreys
Steve Yarbrough's latest novel, Safe from the Neighbors, based partly on the riot that accompanied the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss, includes the following passage: "The Indianhead Division of the Second Infantry marches through the square while several white teenagers--presumably Ole Miss students--hurl bottles at them in front of Gathright-Reed Drugstore, where William Faulkner, dead for only a few months, used to sit each morning smoking his pipe" (p. 92). --Bob Hamblin
Tracy Letts is a Pulitzer-winning playwright. For its production of his unacclaimed first play KILLER JOE a Portland, Maine company used as an epigraph in its program Darl's "How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home?" A fitting application of Faulkner to contemporary theater, since the story is what might have happened had Addie not died voluntarily and the Bundrens had had to do the job themselves. --Seth Berner
On the Washington Post web site, in Jennifer Rubin's "Right Turn" column, this paragraph appeared discussing the 2012 GOP front runners:
On Mike Huckabee: “Formidable. Don’t know if he can really scale up his operation, though. He couldn’t last time. He’s kind of a one-man band. The one thing Huckabee had going for him in the last campaign is he never got the hard look that a front-runner receives. There’s a Faulknerian whiff there that will get more examination if he runs.”
A"Faux Faulkner"-style essay at http://playfulutopias.com uses language from the Benjy and Quentin sections of The Sound and the Fury to satirize the ineptitude of the Seattle Mariners at the opening of the 2011 baseball season ("I could see them not hitting.") --Charles Peek
Faulkner was recently mentioned in an episode of the Australian drama series, "The Secret Life of Us." It was in reference to a character not being able to cry, and one character mentions a William Faulkner story with a boy crying and not being able to stop. He then wrongly states it was the boy's uncle who tells him it's all right to cry, as long as he cleans himself up before rejoing the ladies. --Marcus Gray
Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips has a Faulkner quote in the beginning, and a title character who could have been inspired by Benjy Compson. Of course any profoundly challenged character could have been inspired by Benjy, but Phillips' manner of speaking from inside his head does remind me of The Sound and the Fury.
In the reading guide to Girls author Nic Kelman includes in his "Suggestions for further reading":
"Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner: Faulkner's free form use of language appears so natural here but is in fact so carefully crafted that it's awe-inspiring. In addition, as a kind of bonus, it's also one of the most exciting, most dramatic stories I've ever read. Absalom, Absalom! taught me to pay attention to the rise and fall of words throughout a sentence, a paragraph, a story. It taught me that words should not simply describe an action but must also convey that action's rhythm."
Kelman's novel is literary semi-pornography, proving that good lessons well learned can take one in unexpected directions.
"What Would Faulkner Drink? Hot Chocolate" was the featured selection on February 22, 2011, during the 19th annual month-long hot chocolate festival sponsored by City Bakery in New York. The story behind the choice of name for the drink is told in "The Book Bench" column of the February 22, 2011 New Yorker: --Jason Parks
ABC News with Diane Sawyer, on February 22, 2011, reporting on some new films of President Kennedy the day before he was shot in Dallas, summed up with Faulkner's quote, “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.” --Dean Monahan
Natasha Trethewey's poem "Miscegenation" (which can be found on the internet) contains an allusion to Joe Christmas of Faulkner's Light in August. --Robert Hamblin
From Laura Lippman's novel, Life Sentences (2009, p. 151): "Cassandra had been given a failing mark on a paper on Faulkner because she had attempted to write it in the voice of Benjy. The teacher knocked off a point for every misspelled word and sentence fragment. "I have a hunch," her father said, "that your teacher has not, in fact, read The Sound and the Fury." --Kaye Hamblin
In the last film clip run with the credits for the movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (if you didn’t stay for the credits, you missed it), a woman is reading an unidentified bedtime story to two young boys. After reading the last lines, “Don’t touch a one of them. They’re mine,” she asks the boys what the story means. One boy says the bear represents the collapse of the Old South, while the other says the dog symbolizes Northern industrialism. When the mother asks which side is right, one of the boys says something like, “That’s an example of the moral ambiguity that is characteristic of modern American literature.” All of which just goes to show how very intelligent Southern kids are! --Robert Hamblin
In her opinion column of April 14, 2010, Kathleen Parker recounts the teacher who inspired her to become a better writer. In paying homage to James Basque, her 11th grade English teacher, Parker remembers the unit on Faulkner's The Unvanquishedand Basque's interest in verbena, a repeated symbol throughout the text. She writes: "Mr. Gasque's even greater gifts belong to all who ever sat in his class. That sprig of verbena, a recurring symbol in 'The Unvanquished,' stays in my mind because it also symbolizes the great passion Mr. Gasque brought to teaching and to the literature he loved." -- Christopher Rieger
In a recent "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip by Stephan Pastis:
Rat says to Goat: "Okay, Mr. Literature Guy, I want you to know I just read the William Faulkner classic, 'The Sound and the Fury' and I have a literary analysis." Goat says: "Oh yeah? Tell me...I'd like to hear it." Rat, through a megaphone: "THE BOOK MAKES NO @#*!*&# SENSE!!!!" Then: "That noise you hear is the sound of nine million high school English students clapping." --Dale Haskell
The Big Book of Duh: A Bathroom Book contains the story of Faulkner's invitation to the White House following his winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Faulkner declined the invitation, explaining, "That's a long way to go just to eat." --Abigail Hamblin
Tim McGraw's country song "Southern Voice" includes the following lyric: "Hank Williams sang it. Number three drove it. Chuck Berry twanged it. Will Faulkner wrote it." -- Kristi Rowan Humphreys
On an episode of Family Guy titled "Brian Does Hollywood" (originally broadcast on July 18, 2001; rebroadcast on Oct. 21, 2009), Brian moves to Hollywood to become a famous screenwriter/director. He takes the Griffin family to a restaurant called Musso & Frank's for dinner and states the following:
"Ya know, Musso & Frank's is famous. See that bar over there? Great writers like Hemingway and Faulkner drank there."
-- Kristi Rowan Humphreys
Andy Staples, on sportsillustrated.cnn.com, writing on the SI cover jinx and the loss of the Ole Miss football team to South Carolina , September 25, 2009:
"'Tonight, I'm here to do a little Hotty Toddy hellraising. I'm going to kill Ole Miss's national-title chances -- as dead as the mom in As I Lay Dying.' Of course, Jinx would reference William Faulkner, whose bones lay in Oxford. Jinx is morbid like that. He's also very literary."
In a song by Eric Church:
In The Oxford American, 2008 Southern Music Issue (Issue 63), pages 48-53:
Writer Jack Pendarvis describes visiting Rowan Oak with singer/songwriter Neko Case and her band when they stopped in Oxford on tour. Case, her band, and the writer get a behind-the-scenes tour and discuss Faulkner at length. --Christopher Rieger
On Boston Legal (ABC TV), November 6, 2007:
In his final summation to the jury Alan Shore said: "As William Faulkner once said, facts and truth don't have much to do with one another." --Robert Hamblin
On page 90 of the article "King of the Hill," a review of August Wilson's last play Radio Golf, in The Economist magazine, May 19, 2007. According to the review: "Wilson has turned the Hill into a place as richly peopled and mythologically deep as Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha county." --Christine Smith
On page 64 of the Bono interview in Rolling Stone magazine, November 3, 2005, Bono says: "If Dylan is Faulkner, then Springsteen is Steinbeck." --Christine Smith
Faulkner is mentioned twice by Paul Whitehurst, the narrator of the three stories in William Styron’s A Tidewater Morning. In the opening story, “Love Day,” Whitehurst, a young marine lieutenant, recalls the time when, as a young boy, his mother had objected to the stories his father and he were reading in The Saturday Evening Post: “Why do you read that magazine? Why do you consciously expose an eleven-year-old to such garbage?” His father replies: “Listen, Adelaide, they have printed that genius from Mississippi, William Faulkner” (p. 32). In the title story Whitehurst recalls his father’s quarrel with his mother’s view of race: “Adelaide, let me tell you something. Let me be candid. I think you’ve come a long, long way in the years since we first knew each other. We’ve discussed this before, and you will recollect your own admission that you came to Virginia with a load of ugly prejudices about colored people. Such an irony, too, a Pennsylvanian, a college graduate—sophisticated, widely traveled, reader of William Faulkner, bien élevée, and all that—carrying around this baggage of truly bizarre notions about colored people, as you still prefer to call them, or Negroes, as I call them” (p.98). --Robert Hamblin
The headline of an April 4, 2004 New York Times article by Ira Berkow, regarding the Chicago Cubs and their hopes for a World Series appearance, reads: "Cubs' Past Isn't Dead; It Isn't Even Past," an echo of Faulkner's line in Requiem for a Nun: "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past." --Rick Delaney
On an episode of CSI titled "A Little Murder" (originally broadcast on Oct. 17, 2002; rebroadcast on Aug. 14, 2003), Grissom (William Petersen) is investigating the homicide of a dwarf. During a discussion with Melanie Grace (portrayed by Meredith Eaton), an acquaintance of the deceased who also happens to be a little person, the subject of prejudice inevitably arises.
Melanie quotes the following: "The freaks had looked at her in a secret way and tried to connect their eyes with hers, as though to say, 'We know who you are; we are you.'"
Grissom ponders the phrase for a moment, then queries, "Faulkner?"
"Close," Melanie replies. "Another Southern writer -- Carson McCullers."
-- Vernon Gravely
The New York Times of April 3, 2003, contains an article by Mel Gussow, "Terry Southern Literary Archives Go to New York Public Library." In discussing Southern's film script for Easy Rider, the novelist's son Niles is quoted: "'Terry's hand is very much in evidence,' his son said. It was his title, and he created the lawyer played by Jack Nicholson, whom he based on a William Faulkner character." -- M. Thomas Inge
On a recent episode of Law & Order titled "Genius" (airdate: April 2, 2003), the suspect is a writer and English professor who admits to stabbing a cab driver. When the detective questions the suspect's office mate, the office mate says he was working on a paper on Faulkner's use of Keats; when he went to the shelf to look up some bit of information in a two-volume book on Faulkner that "nobody uses," he found the murder weapon hidden behind the books. -- Ralee Durden
More on Law & Order episode, "Genius," broadcast on April 2, 2003:
I remember the episode differently than reported earlier. In talking with the murderer's university office mate, the colleague notes how he discovered a stash of cash taken from the robbery (and I am not sure this is an exact quote): "I was working on a paper about Faulkner and Keats and went over to the bookshelf to consult the two-volume biography that everyone owns but nobody
reads." I hope Joe Blotner didn't see that one! -- M. Thomas Inge
More on Sunshine State, mentioned previously:
Last night I watched John Sayles' film Sunshine State, which references Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Delia Temple, the local community theatre director, has adapted AILD for the stage . . . or as she says "rather loosely adapted, but I don't think Mr. Faulkner would object." She plays Addie, and the scene begins with Addie's opening "In the afternoon when school was out and the last one had left...." She gets through "my father used to say that the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time" before she's interrupted. She then recruits a troubled neighborhood boy to build her coffin, out of which she will rise up and speak during the performance. Later, as the boy uses an adult to figure out the measurements, the adult remarks, "You'd better put some holes in this so she can breathe." -- Jason Fichtel
From Errol Castens' review of Oxford journalist Jere Hoar's novel The Hit:
"He tells a compelling story--this slender, white-haired writer who retreats to his antebellum Oxford home behind its screen of cedars.
"A gentleman farmer as well as a scholar, he exercises strong affinities for guns, dogs, and horses, books and paintings.
"He lays claim to the North Mississippi landscape as his own territory-of-mind, painting in words the details implanted in decades of walking its woods and fields, of studying its plants and animals, weather and topography.
"Old grudges and current covetings inflame the dark-hearted populace of his writings.
"But his last name isn't Faulkner."
--Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal [Tupelo], March 16, 2003, p. 2C.
There's an interesting essay on King/Faulkner parallels in It by Mary Jane Dickerson. The essay's titled "Stephen King Reading William Faulkner: Memory, Desire, and Time in the Making of It." The essay appears in a collection of essays on King called The Dark Descent. I used this collection and this essay when I taught a course on King, and my students were very much interested in exploring further how King references Faulkner not only in It, but in other novels as well. -- Jason Fichtel
In Stephen King's novel It several black soldiers from Mississippi with Yoknapatawpha County surnames are stationed in Maine during World War II. I've often wondered why King did that. -- John McGinity
I've just begun reading James Lee Burke's Two for Texas, but within the first ten pages, the protagonist, from the backwoods of Tennessee, enters the front door of a roadhouse and is told to go around to the side door. Shortly after, he is accused (falsely) of stealing from an octoroon mistress in New Orleans. Shades of Sutpen and Charles Bon? -- Len Engel
From Pat Conroy's jacket blurb on Rick Bragg's Ada's Man : "Rick Bragg writes like a man on fire. And All Over but the Shoutin' is a work of art. I thought of Melville, I thought of Faulkner." -- Kaye Hamblin
In the February 12, 2003, episode of West Wing, some of the main characters went to a club where the live group was singing faintly in the background something about Faulkner and being drunk. Since the main point was the characters' dialogue, the exact lyrics were difficult to decipher, but the reference was definitely there. -- Trisha Yarbrough
In Jean Luc Godard's A Bout de Souffle, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seaberg read Faulkner to each other in bed. I think it's The Wild Palms. The recent British novel/film Last Orders, starring Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins, was so indebted to As I Lay Dying that it was accused of plagiarism. -- Tom McCarthy
The similarities in subject matter and structure make it beyond believability that Graham Swift did not have As I Lay Dying in mind when he wrote Last Orders - a trek to a funeral, meeting many obstacles on the way; chapters told by different characters in interior monologues, with one chapter clocking in at one short sentence. Swift was happy to talk about his book as long as the only name mentioned in conjunction was Booker (as in, the leading literary prize out of the United Kingdom) but quickly and firmly clammed up when the name Faulkner was mentioned after the fact. A spokesperson for the Booker Prize later admitted that no one on the Committee was familiar with As I Lay Dying and so had never thought to question Swift or the work. I like Last Orders and don't mind the Faulkner influence. But I think it safe to say that no one reading the Booker winner who also knows Brother Will could possibly fail to feel that Swift did not give credit where credit is due. Certainly a "Sighting" to those of us who know what we are looking at. -- Seth Berner
From William Gass's In the Heart of the Heart of the Country:
"These houses are now dying like the bereaved who inhabit them; they are slowly losing their senses--deafness, blindness, forgetfulness, mumbling, an insecure gait, an uncontrollable trembling has overcome them. Some kind of Northern Snopes will occupy them next: large-familied, Catholic, Democratic, scrambling, vigorous, poor; and since the parents will work in larger, nearby towns, the children will be loosed upon themselves and upon the hapless neighbors much as the fabulous Khan loosed his legendary horde. These Snopes will undertake makeshift repairs with materials that other people have thrown away; paint halfway round their house, then quit; almost certainly maintain an ugly, loud, cantankerous dog and underfeed a pair of cats to keep the rodents down." -- Jonathan Cox
Leon Forrest's novel, The Bloodworth Orphans, includes this passage:
"But a pipe-puffing black-skinned man, in golden horn-rimmed glasses, with a visionary gaze, and a mane of snow-white, who except for his coloring looked the spit of William Faulkner, now staunchly blocked Witherspoon's passageway. . . ." -- Jonathan Cox
The recent film Sunshine State features Jane Alexander as a community-theater matron. At one point, Angela Bassett's character visits Alexander's character during rehearsal for an upcoming production. The dialogue onstage is from Addie Bundren's chapter in As I Lay Dying. Later in the movie, a young man is convicted of petty arson. The judge sentences him to perform community service--more specifically, to build the coffin for the stage adaptation of AILD. -- Ted Atkinson
From Ben Folds Five's 1997 break-up anthem, "Smoke":
"You keep saying the past is not dead
You keep saying
You keep saying the past is not even past
Well, wake up and smell the smoke."
-- Heather O'Donnell
The serialized “white trash” novel by Stephanie du Plessis of San Francisco (1994) is entitled The Snopeses Go Camping. -- Seth Berner
In Stuart Kaminsky's novel, Never Cross A Vampire, featuring Hollywood private detective Toby Peters, Faulkner appears as a main character. The novel at first focuses on a case (circa 1942) involving Bela Lugosi, then gets (appropriately) complicated as slumming screenwriter Faulkner is accused of murdering a sleazy movie agent. -- D. Matthew Ramsey
In the pop culture hit Ferris Bueller's Day Off, the assistant principal is consoling Ferris's girlfriend, who has been called out of class (by Ferris's friend, pretending to be her father) to attend the funeral of her grandmother. As the assistant principal is trying to fill an awkward moment, he consoles her by saying, "Between grief and nothing, I'll take grief." Faulkner fans should recognize that was a line that Faulkner used in several letters and also in the novel If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem. -- Peter Alan Froehlich
On page 71 of the February 2003 issue of Harper’s magazine, in an article on unsung heroes of Hollywood, is the information that Walter Murch had the movie rights to The Wild Palms. (The novel has never been filmed.) -- Seth Berner
The Beaver Papers, by Will Jacobs and Gerard Jones (Crown Publishers, 1983), is a collection of script treatments for the old TV show Leave It To Beaver. These “episodes” are presented as if written by famous authors (Steinbeck, Kerouac, Beckett, Faulkner, et al.). Pages 55-58 contain "The Beaver and the Fury." -- Seth Berner
A blurb on the back of Robert Pressnell, Jr.’s book Edgell’s Island (Paperback Library Edition, first printing, 1964) describes this tale of an illicit affair as being penned by "a fine author - somewhere between Frederick Wakeman and William Faulkner." -- Seth Berner
In one episode of Boston Public (Fox) a teacher is reprimanded by the principal because the teacher prepped one student for an upcoming exam, thus giving that student an unfair advantage. The advice the teacher gave the student was to study the Hemingway material but “don’t worry about Faulkner.” Guess there are some people who still prefer Hemingway.
Pam Tillis's country song "Maybe It Was Memphis" includes the following lyric: "Read about you in a Faulkner novel/Met you once in a Williams play...." My immediate response: "Don't go out with him!" --Theresa M. Towner
The Hollywood producer in Robert Altman's Gosford Park is reading Light in August. A copy of the book is shown in the scene in which he prepares to go to bed. There are several parallels between the movie and the book:
-- John B. Padgett
In a repeat episode of Law & Order, which I've seen 2-3 times (most recently last week), a novelist suspected (but not guilty) of murdering somebody can't be interviewed because he's up at Bard at a conference on our Boy. It is later reported that our suspect gets into a snit at said conference because some speaker declared that WF was a magical realist, and he, our suspect, argued that he was not. -- Noel Polk
Rick Bragg's memoir, All Over But the Shoutin', which is the featured 2003 book selected by the Cape Girardeau (Missouri) United We Read, includes a half-dozen references to Faulkner. Here are two of them:
"But as the car pulled closer and turned up the long driveway, I saw that it was no mansion, only the corpse of one. I saw peeling paint and missing boards, and looking back on it now I know that my father must have rented it for a song, because it was a house no one else would have. We would have said it was straight out of Faulkner, if we had known who Faulkner was." (Vintage Books Edition, p. 53)
"[My daddy's people] fought each other like cats in a sack, existing--hell no, living--somewhere between the Snopeses of Faulkner's imagination and the Forresters of The Yearling." (p. 56)
-- Kaye Hamblin
In commenting on the relationship of her books to her native Mississippi, Donna Tartt said, "Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He didn't win it for Southern Literature. It seems to me literature is just literature, wherever it comes from." (Sighted in Ellen Kanner's essay on Tartt's second novel, The Little Friend, in the November 2002 issue of BookPage, p. 5)
From: Cheever, Benjamin. “Brown is Beautiful.” Food and Wine, November 2002: 172-174.
“Now, bourbon has always had its fans. William Faulkner was one of them. ‘My own experience,’ he said, ‘has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food and a little whisky.’ Near the opening to his famous story, ‘The Bear,’ he wrote, ‘There was always a bottle present….’ Seems that there always was. In his art and in his life. But then, William Faulkner lived in rural Mississippi. He actually wrote a novel titled Mosquitoes. Say ‘Yoknapatawpha County’ three times fast and you’ll need a drink as well.”
Pat Conroy’s book, My Losing Season, has numerous references to Faulkner scattered throughout the text. Conroy describes his first reading of The Sound and the Fury in a high school English class, his writing of his senior paper at The Citadel on Faulkner and Sinclair Lewis, his search for Faulkner’s home in New Orleans, and his autographing a copy of The Prince of Tides while seated at the desk Faulkner used when working on Absalom, Absalom! Here are a couple of excerpts:
“In November Mr. Monte suggested I read The Sound and the Fury. I took the book home and began reading it with enormous anticipation because I could sense Mr. Monte’s reverence when he spoke about the pleasures of Faulkner, and he considered this his masterpiece. When I read the first ninety-two pages, I fretted, then despaired because it felt like I was reading the book underwater or weightless in outer space. I was not sure I understood a single line or had the slightest clue about where the book was tending or drifting. Shaken, I reread the same ninety-two pages that begin with the sentence of the curling flower spaces and ends with Benjy in Caddy’s arms. The second reading left me even more panic-stricken and perplexed.” (page 61)
Conroy goes on to explain how, following his teacher’s advice, he read the speech in Macbeth that is the source of Faulkner’s title.
“Word for word, I wrote that speech down in the spiral notebook Mr. Monte made us keep in his class. As I copied the last line of that speech, I felt like one of those forty-niners who pan for gold in rushing western streams for years, until they reach the summary and defining moment of their gambled-out lives and lift a pan from the ungenerous stream brimming with a king’s ransom of gold. I thought about the first section of The Sound and the Fury and I thought about Macbeth’s speech when he hears the news of his queen’s death. I put them together. I unlocked the mystery.” (page 62)
Of his impressions of Absalom, Absalom!, Conroy writes: “. . . William Faulkner tamed and mesmerized me. I loved the way he could pack the whole world into a single sentence. Faulkner could inhabit a line the way God loomed over the universe.” (page 342)
--Submitted by Robert Hamblin
In his Time article about Michael Chabon, Clive Barker, and other authors who are capitalizing on the Harry Potter craze, Richard Lacayo writes: “There’s serious money here. Even before Barker’s book appears in stores, Disney has reportedly paid $8 million for the film, merchandising and theme-park rights to his characters. Theme-park rights? This never happened to Faulkner.” (September 23, 2002, page 68)
From CNN Crossfire, Aug. 30, 2002
Ben Jones first gained fame as "Cooter" on the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard before becoming a congressman from Georgia. At the time of this interview, he was running for a congressional seat in Virginia and joined Crossfire hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson to discuss reality TV and other topics. Here is an excerpt:
JONES: All of the great writers came from the South. William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor. I mean, Mark Twain.
CARLSON: But, Congressman, can you understand a single word William Faulkner ever wrote? No. Come on, nobody can.
JONES: Absolutely. No, no, you can't. You're the one with the problem.
CARLSON: Hold on a minute. Congressman, pronounce the name Peskataquafarqua County or whatever. Nobody can pronounce the name of the county.
JONES: Watch your language. Son, there are ladies watching.
The book, The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer, includes the following passage (page 357):
"I read 'The Sound and the Fury' this semester," McGraw said. The whole book. That book's hard. That book's fucked up. Like this one part where Benjy catches Caddy doing it on a tire swing. The professor calls on me in class, and he says, 'What do you think this scene means?' So I told him, 'Sex in a tire swing--that does not sound easy,' and the professor said he'd never heard that take on Faulkner before."
[It continues in this vein for a few more paragraphs.]