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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Swearing Off Faulkner

I recently read the following excerpt of an interview with William Faulkner for The Paris Review in 1956:

Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.

Since I liked Faulkner’s sentiments, I decided to make one last attempt at reading one of his works even though I’d sworn him off after multiple attempts in the past.


Carl_Van_Vechten_-_William_Faulkner William Faulkner, by by Carl Van Vechten

The Sound and the Fury just didn’t happen for me. I’m resigned to the fact that I’m just not getting the vibe from this renown Southern writer. Perhaps I’m even more of a literary idiot than I previously thought. Suffice it to say, I’m not a Faulkner fan. I guess that means I’ll never have a seat at the erudite table.

Based on my decision to reject Faulkner, I’ll go ahead and express the following theory for his acclaim among the literary muckity-mucks: His works and his life play to the stereotypes of Southerners, who are drunken idiots and they sleep with their cousins.

You sleep with one lousy cousin!

Anyway, this time I’m really done trying to “get” Faulkner. There are simply too many books I enjoy reading and want to read for me to fight my way through ones that I don’t. Kind of reminds me of trying to watch movies that the Academy tell us are “important” movies. The last time I fell for that one I sat through “The Constant Gardener” and wanted to slash my wrists afterward. Give me “Smokey and the Bandit” any day. And while I’m at it, I prefer a “Diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper” to caviar and champagne.

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