Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Back in the Saddle

After almost two weeks on the road, it's nice to be back in front of my computer. During my travels to the left coast and Yoknapatawpha County, I made a conscious effort to stay away from cable news and the internet, spending time (instead) with friends, family, and especially, my four-year-old granddaughter. However, there were a couple of items that caught my eye, notably the recent events in Iraq and Lebanon.

Incidentally, I'm not much of a Faulkner fan; there's something about sentences that meander on for half a page that cries out for a touch of editing. But, I will give Bill his due. Along the way, he managed to win the Nobel Prize for literature, and establish himself as, perhaps, the definitive voice of southern literature. On the other hand, I still believe Thomas Wolfe was a superior writer to Faulkner, and would have enjoyed similar accolades, had he not died at the age of 38. I still read Of Time and the River on occasion, marveling in the sheer magic and imagery of his writing.

Both Faulkner and Wolfe led rather messy personal lives. Wolfe had a long affair with a married woman and expressed some admiration for Hitler's Third Reich in the years before his death. Faulkner's pursuits were more pedestrian. After becoming a Nobel laureaute, he returned to his hometown of Oxford, MS, and spent a fair amount of time drinking. A friend of mine in Oxford remembers, as a young child, seeing the great writer stumbling around town-- sometimes clad in his pajamas--knocking on doors and asking for whisky. Forty years later, Oxford has more than its share of watering holes, thanks largely to the presence of the University of Mississippi, where Faulkner briefly worked as campus postmaster. Judging from the number of inebriated college students stumbling around Oxford, Bill would be very proud.

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