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Posts Tagged ‘William Faulkner’

Completely Without Dignity: An Interview with Karl Ove Knausgaard

December 26, 2013 | by

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All this week, we are bringing you some of your favorite posts from 2013. Happy holidays!

Of the two people who have written books called My Struggle, Karl Ove Knausgaard is the less notorious. In Scandinavia, where the tradition of memoiristic writing is less prevalent and self-exposing than it is in America, he wrote, for three years, twenty pages a day about himself, his friends, his wife, and his kids. When the first of the six books was published, reporters called everyone he’d ever met. It sold half a million copies.

But unlike most literary controversies, this one’s less interesting than the work that provoked it. Knausgaard has written one of those books so aesthetically forceful as to be revolutionary. Before, there was no My Struggle; now there is, and things are different. The digressiveness of Sebald or Proust is transposed into direct, unmetaphorical language, pushing the novel almost to the edge of unreadability, where it turns out to be addictive and hypnotic. A man has written a book in which a man stays at home with his kids, and his home life isn’t trivialized or diminished but studied and appreciated, resisted and embraced. An almost Christian feeling of spiritual urgency makes even the slowest pages about squeezing lemon on a lobster into a hymn about trying to be good.

Book One ends with that impossible thing: an original metaphor for death. The last sentence of this interview may do the same for writing. Read More »

40 COMMENTS

Vile Bodies

October 28, 2013 | by

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INTERVIEWER

Whom do you read for pleasure?

WAUGH

Anthony Powell. Ronald Knox, both for pleasure and moral edification. Erle Stanley Gardner.

INTERVIEWER

And Raymond Chandler!

WAUGH

No. I’m bored by all those slugs of whiskey. I don’t care for all the violence either.

INTERVIEWER

But isn’t there a lot of violence in Gardner?

WAUGH

Not of the extraneous lubricious sort you find in other American crime writers.

INTERVIEWER

What do you think of other American writers, of Scott Fitzgerald or William Faulkner, for example?

WAUGH

I enjoyed the first part of Tender Is the Night. I find Faulkner intolerably bad.

—Evelyn Waugh, the Art of Fiction No. 30

 

4 COMMENTS

William Faulkner’s Unexpected Art, and Other News

September 3, 2013 | by

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  • William Faulkner’s drawings from his Ole Miss days are wonderfully Deco.
  • Random House UK launches The Happy Foodie, described thusly: “Bringing cookery books to life, helping you get happy in the kitchen.”
  • In other slogan-y UK books news, Books Are My Bag (which supports bookstores and features a tote bag bearing exactly those words) attracts celebrity adherents.
  • Cairo’s iconic German-language bookstore, Lehnert & Landrock, faces closure amidst the nation’s turmoil.
  • “Beckett had a lifelong interest in chess and was a keen player, following many of the big matches, says his nephew, Edward, who oversees the Beckett estate.” How chess influenced Samuel Beckett’s work
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    2 COMMENTS

    On the Map: Sherwood Anderson; Clyde, Ohio; and the Mythologies of Small Towns

    July 25, 2013 | by

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    Wikipedia will tell you that the National Arbor Day Foundation has bestowed upon Clyde, Ohio, the illustrious title of Tree City USA, and also that the Whirlpool Corporation calls the town home. You might learn, too, from the “Notable Residents” section of Clyde’s Wikipedia page, that former NFL tackle Tim Anderson has lived there, and that he was preceded in this by George W. Norris, a progressive senator from Nebraska during the early part of the twentieth century. Should you meet a Clyde native of a particular sort, though—in San Francisco, say, or New York—she might skip these details to tell you about a more hallowed pedigree. She might say, if she judges you a literary type, that she hails from the small town where Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio is set. (Winesburg’s Wikipedia page will explain, if you happen to visit it, that it is not the setting for Winesburg, Ohio.)

    It turns out, though—somewhat perplexingly—that Clyde natives eager to claim ties with Anderson are scarce. Since Winesburg’s publication, in 1919, residents have for the most part regarded Anderson as a prodigal child—a troublemaker and bawdy apostate from whom to keep a wary distance. A 2001 article in Cleveland Scene magazine titled “Unfavorite Son” noted that although the Clyde Public Library boasted a Whirlpool Room, “nary an alcove” had been dedicated to Anderson. For years, the library’s only copy of Winesburg “was kept in a locked closet with other ‘bad books.’” If you wanted a peek, “you had to ask the librarian, and she looked down at you with a scowl.” In the 1980s, an annual Sherwood Anderson Festival was inaugurated but lack of interest saw it swiftly snuffed. Local high school teachers exclude Winesburg from reading lists, and an Anderson scholar from a nearby college told Scene that at the time of the book’s release, townspeople regarded it as gossip: “They didn’t understand what fiction was,” he said. “They thought he was a liar.” It did not help, perhaps, that Winesburg contains much indelicate innuendo regarding married women, teenage girls, and the local religious establishment.

    Still, nearly a century has passed since Winesburg’s publication. Anyone who might have detected in the novel traces of her own biography has surely passed on. Modern-day Clyde has little to recommend it, and it strikes one odd, at first, that natives would fail to claim Anderson with pride. A town of some 6,000 citizens fifty miles from Toledo, Clyde is a place of vacant storefronts and empty streets. Stoplights hang heavy between buildings of faded red brick, and plywood boards panel downtown windows. It is the sort of town from which escape can prove difficult and not the kind to which people readily relocate. People in Clyde are quick to discern condescension, and though Winesburg, Ohio owes its endurance to universality—to artful, empathetic investigations of human weakness and desire—they cannot shake the notion that it levels at their town a targeted indictment. They do not see in it a feat of artistic alchemy but a slim volume of petty judgment, a document of isolation rather than transcendence. Read More »

    9 COMMENTS

    William Faulkner, a Fine Gentleman

    July 23, 2013 | by

    While all of this 1952 Ford Foundation Omnibus film—a sort of scripted documentary on William Faulkner—is fantastic, bizarre, and well worth watching, this clip is particularly noteworthy for the exterior shots of the author’s house, Rowan Oak.

     

    6 COMMENTS

    Town of Marvels

    June 27, 2013 | by

    Image via oxfordmississippi.com

    Image via oxfordmississippi.com.

    The boy and the girl were engaged, driving to California, where the girl wanted to make costumes for the movies. The boy planned to study Native American archaeology; he was just out of the Navy. They were the sort of young people I felt accurate calling beautiful—good-looking, around twenty years old, in love. But it was more than that. The fact is, it’s sustaining, getting older, to meet young adults who are hopeful and naïve, just enough.

    They had a car, a dog, a vision. But they didn’t have a book. Leaving New England, they’d heard about a certain book on NPR, and the girl thought it sounded just right. The boy said they’d find a copy on the road somewhere. They drove for days, heading south from New Hampshire: Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee. No book. The girl pressed. The boy promised. Bookstores don’t exactly dot the American highway in the grand manner of Sbarros. Finally, driving through Mississippi, seeing a sign for Oxford, the boy suggested they stop, stretch their legs, find the damn book. Oxford was a university town, there had to be a bookstore somewhere.

    They parked in the tiny main square. A bookstore stood on the corner under a sign for Fortune’s Famous Ice Cream. The girl walked the dog, the boy went inside. He asked, Do you have this book?

    We do, the clerk said. And there it was, right next to the register, a stack of them. The clerk said, Do you want a signed copy?

    I guess so, the boy said.

    Wait, but you do know the author was here tonight, right? He just did a reading, the clerk said after a moment. It was about seven P.M., the verge of dusk. The boy was confused. Suddenly, the clerk was pointing out the window, saying, Wait, that’s him going by right there.

    No one really knows the value of book tours. Whether or not they’re good ideas, or if they improve book sales. I happen to think the author is the last person you’d want to talk to about a book; they hate it by that point, they’ve already moved on to a new lover. Besides, the author never knows what the book is about anyway. Read More »

    4 COMMENTS