Wednesday, June 15, 2005

the bridges of yoknapatawpha county

Oprah has declared this a “Summer of Faulkner”. As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August, one of my favorite Faulkner works, are featured reading on the big O’s book club at the moment.

I really don’t like Oprah and want to have a negative take on this, but I can’t. I love Faulkner and would encourage anyone to read all the Faulkner they can get their hands on. If people read him because it was part of their Oprah marching orders, then so be it.

I have to admit that I’ve never read The Sound and the Fury. A professor in college told me it would be better if I let it sit on the shelf a while, and so I have. My paperback copy has sat there for six years like a rare bottle of wine or one of the Cuban cigars I brought back from Spain in high school (I knew nothing of cigars at the time and neglected to keep them in a humidor, so smoking them now is about as enjoyable as smoking my copy of The Sound and the Fury). I don't know if he meant it as an insult or genuine advice. He was drunk at the time, as English professors are prone to be, and was always rather sarcastic on the few occasions I found him sober.

Another Faulkner work I would recommend is The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem). It is really two short novels, The Wild Palms and Old Man, not really interwoven in their storylines but presented in alternating chapters. The first is the tragic love story Charlotte and Wilbourne, the man she leaves her husband and children for, as they move from place to place trying to have a life together. The second is the story of two escaped convicts adrift on the great Mississippi flood of 1927. It is funny, depressing, and really hard to put down once you’ve started.

If it helps, according to some info I found on, The Wild Palms is one of Julia Roberts’ favorite books.


Blogger Wally Bangs said...

It's funny. A couple of years ago I decided to devote myself to a summer of re-reading Steinbeck. Soon East Of Eden was the Oprah book of the moment. Last year I went for a Fall Of Faulkner and I read the Faulkner books I had never read. Now Oprah is having a Summer of Faulkner. It's got my wife thinking I've got some sort of telepathic link to Winfrey. Maybe I should next have a month of Confederacy Of Dunces and see what happens. Glad to see Faulkner getting some mainstream play, although I just can't see the Oprah crowd making it through the Benjy section of The Sound And The Fury.

3:47 PM  

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