I’m slowly forging my way through Faulkner’s Collected Stories—slow going not because I dislike them, but because it takes me about 40 minutes to read each 10-page story. And the book is really, really long.
For those of you that are not Faulkner-ed out (probably no one) (are we having fun yet?), I also recently read this 1956 Paris Review interview with none other than William himself.
The reason I don’t like interviews is that I seem to react violently to personal questions.
This interview is just so many gems—of truth, hilarity, wisdom, sarcasm, literally everything I like. Funnily enough, I find myself unable to comment on much of what he says, for a few reasons. First of all, clearly not being a writer myself, I don’t have a whole lot to say about that. Second of all, and more accurately, I read through this interview almost in a trance. I got so caught up in reading his responses that I almost forgot was he was talking about—that’s how much I was paying attention. The story about working with MGM? Priceless. Every story should be told like that. How is he at the same time so straightforward and so meandering?? Ugh. Genius.
Everybody talked about Freud when I lived in New Orleans, but I have never read him. Neither did Shakespeare. I doubt if Melville did either, and I’m sure Moby Dick didn’t.
I love Faulkner for so many reasons, one of which is his dedication to Southern heritage. Personally, I find the American South to be the most fascinating cultural phenomenon in the history of this country, and I literally cannot get enough of it. Say you disagreed with someone and so didn’t want to be around her anymore, except then she is like, “EXCEPT YOU WILL NEVER GET AWAY FROM ME AND I AM GOING TO DESTROY YOU TO PROVE IT.” Maybe if you are seven, you will appreciate that explanation of the American South in the Civil War and understand why I find it so compelling. If you are older than seven, maybe you will like my other Faulknerific entry better than this one.
Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?
Read it four times.
P.S. As of earlier this month, my friend actually works for the interviewer from this article… Wowza. I tell him that is truly the stuff of memoir. After all, who wants to read the memoir of someone who worked in textbook publishing? I certainly don’t, and I am the one living it. Oops.