Cruising Yoknapatawpha

Step aboard a boat docked in any of the marinas clustered around Clear Lake, loose the lines, find the channel, and soon enough you’ll be edging into Galveston Bay.

Whether the Bay’s your destination for a day sail or the first step on a longer journey – to Galveston itself, or to the open doorway of the Gulf of Mexico – you’ll have plenty of company. Second only to Florida in terms of boat sales and with one of the largest collections of pleasure craft in the country, someone around the lake always is getting underway.

Most of the boats you’ll see are documented or registered in Texas, although craft from Florida and Louisiana are well-represented. Thanks to Delaware’s more relaxed attitude toward documentation and taxes, you’ll often see larger and more expensive vessels with Wilmington or Dover listed as hailing ports.  Now and then a cruiser from the East Coast or Caribbean will tie up on a transit pier, alongside sailboats from Half-Moon Bay or the San Juan Islands.

Occasionally, there are real surprises. One day I noticed a large, handsome trawler with a hailing port of Oxford, Mississippi painted on its stern. Any city or town with a zip code can be used as a hailing port, but still – given what I knew of Oxford, it caught my attention.

Located in the red clay hills of northern Mississippi, Oxford’s tucked into the Holly Springs, Grenada, and Lisbon geological formations,  a land characterized by high rolling hills, deep, densely wooded ravines and river bottoms. The hills mark the very edge of the Appalachian range as they rise up from plains to the south.  With its own collection of hills, pines and red sandy-clay soil, Oxford seems the very definition of “inland”. Certainly, it’s better known for R.L. Burnside’s style of blues than for boating. There’s no ocean access for deep-draft sailboats, and even Sardis Lake is better suited for fishing boats than the near-yacht that proclaimed Oxford its home.

One day I happened to be working near the mystery boat when its owner came strolling down the dock. Deciding a little chat was in order, I walked over to visit. “Are you really from Oxford?” I asked. “Well, yes and no,” he said. “I live in New York, but I registered the boat in Oxford because I’m  from Yoknapatawpha County.”

After I stopped laughing, I looked at him and said, “Faulkner fan, huh?”  Indeed, he was.  He’d been reading and studying William Faulkner, one of Oxford’s most famous residents, since his youth. I love Faulkner, but the fellow knew Faulkner’s work so deeply and so well there was little chance of ending the conversation after a polite minute.

We spent the next hour talking about the Snopes clan, revisions in the transcript of Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, the importance of time and memory in his work, Quentin Compson and Yoknapatawpha County itself, the place created and meticuously mapped by Faulkner as a setting for his work.  It was a delightful conversation, and it raised memories of my own first trip to Mississippi.

I had been to Oxford – and thus to Yoknapatawpha County – only once.  During my first year of college, my parents suggested I choose a summer vacation destination. Knowing it might be our last vacation together, they wanted it to be special.  I’d begun reading Faulkner, and the decision required no special thought. Oxford, Mississippi was my choice. Bemused but willing, my folks agreed.  When the time came, we gathered up a few maps, a book or two, and headed off.  My parents may have been on vacation, but I was a pilgrim, bound for my personal holy land and filled with all the fervor that pilgrimage entails. 

When we reached Oxford, the first thing I wanted to see was the house. It was 1965, just three years after Faulker’s death. While the Chamber of Commerce probably understood the value of Mr. Faulkner to their town, things weren’t always obvious. We drove around a bit, trying to find Faulkner’s home, and finally pulled into a gas station to ask directions.

Two boys who appeared to be of high school age were working the pumps.  “Say,” my Dad said, leaning out of the car window.  “Where can we find William Faulkner’s house?”  The first fellow stood for a minute, then turned and yelled to his pal. “These folks here’re lookin’ for Bill Faulkner. You know ‘im?” The second boy gave it some thought and then said, “Bill Faulkner? Can’t say as I do. Don’t think he trades here, anyhow.”  Pointing roughly in the direction of the square, he said, “You might try up there.”

Eventually, we found the house. Whether the boys ever figured out who Bill Faulkner was, or whether he’d bought gas at their station, I can’t say.

Faulkner at Rowan Oak

Remembering the experience now, the irony is delicious.  Three years after Faulkner’s death, a couple of kids working the pumps at a gas station less than a mile or two from his house didn’t seem to have a clue about their town’s most famous resident. Forty-five years later, a man from New York registered his boat in Oxford, Mississippi solely in order to anchor himself in Yoknapatawpha County, a purely “literary” construction if ever there was one. 

For at least that one boater and for a multitude of readers, the fictional world Faulkner built became as real as the house in which he lived, and Yoknapatawpha County as familiar and accessible as Oxford, Mississippi.

I suspect Faulkner would have delighted in it all – the oblivious boys, the passionate fan and the conflation of two quite distinct Mississippi worlds.  Some might argue that of course Oxford and Lafayette County are more “real” than Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha. I might say so myself, but I might not. After all, as Faulkner himself so famously said, “Facts and truth really don’t have much to do with each other.”

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132 thoughts on “Cruising Yoknapatawpha

    1. Julie,

      I certainly am amused every time I remember the experience. I’m glad it gave you a smile, too, and I’m glad to have given you just a little peek into another corner of our world.


  1. Of course I enjoyed this one, and I laughed as well when he stated where he was from, and I knew the post was going in a fun direction!

    Sigh; Mississippi might have the highest obesity rates now, and it might be forever stuck in the quick sand of racism, but it has certainly produced some amazing authors.

    Thanks so much for posting this in time for my final read for the evening!

    Buenas noches,

    1. Z,

      And of course I thought of you while I was writing this, with a great smile and sure knowledge that you’d appreciate it. One of my favorite tidbits about Oxford is that it’s also the home of Fat Possum Records – the crew that helped me figure out there’s a difference between Delta and Hill Country blues.

      Every state has its problems, of course. Still, you’re right that the literary heritage is remarkable. As for Faulkner himself, I love Flannery O’Connor’s take: “Nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the track when the Dixie Limited comes roaring down.”

      And here’s a nice piece about life in Oxford after Faulkner. Some day I’ll get to Square Books, too!


      1. A friend wrote this morning and said that she’s moving from Oxford to Cleveland, from major-university campus to small-town ‘delta state’ one. Her first 40 years were in Clarksdale – what a circle of life she’s had!

        Nice article in the publisher’s weekly; how in the world do you remember the locations for all of these great articles?!


        1. You’re giving me the traveling bug again. That was one of the nicest trips I’ve had – up 61 through Cleveland to Clarksdale, but down 1 on the way home. I’d do it again in a minute.

          As for the article – girl, I love my bookmarks! For one thing, anything I bookmark is something I’m interested in. And I keep them in folders that make sense to me – this one was tucked into “Literature”. About every three months, I scan all the folders, just to remember what’s there. It doesn’t take any time at all, and keeps things fresh in my mind.

          1. I don’t have my bookmarks in folders.. nice; I’ll do that when I take a clean-up day!

            I think I can drive highway one with my eyes closed from Greenville to ‘scott’ (delta pine and land co) to Benoit, Beulah, Rosedale up up up to either Shelby or up to Rena Lara and Clarksdale… or keep rolling to the Helena bridge.

            ah, the flatlands!


    1. montucky,

      Every now and then I come across someone pondering the meaning of “home”. For some, it’s always and forever their “home town”, the place where they grew up. For others, it’s where they happen to be at the moment.

      I must say – I’ve never before or since met someone who had so firmly rooted himself in a mythical place, even if it was just slightly tongue-in-cheek. Who knows? Maybe we can live in two worlds at once!


  2. My brother and his first (late) wife lived and taught music in the public schools in Meridian, MS. I don’t know that my bro was a big Faulkner fan. I just remember Faulkner’s long rambling sentences from what I read of him in college.

    There is a certain ironic whimsy in claiming Faulkner’s landlocked home town as the home port of a boat that I think he would have appreciated. I do have to say, Faulkner is a lot more readable than Tennessee Williams, whom my college professors kept raving about. (Apparently, Williams is one of those you have to be there, and apparently, I’m not even in the neighborhood.)

    It’s not that I dislike Faulkner, it’s just a case of so many books and so little time, and he’s pretty far back in the queue. Chacun, as they say, à son goût. I can’t get with Proust either.

    1. WOL,

      Like you, I find Faulkner more accessible than Tennessee Williams, although it was a great revelation to me to find some of William’s short stories and essays. His extended metaphor about the “rocking horse weather of California” that shows up in the middle of a story called “The Tomato Patch” is breath-taking. It’s in a collection of stories titled “Hard Candy”. If you ever come across it, you might enjoy it.

      That “so many books, so little time” dynamic’s pretty familiar. Every now and then I look at my pile and roll my eyes. Right now, the Great Triumvirate’s ordered thusly: work, write, read. Some day I hope to get things re-ordered – maybe even to get past that exquisite madeleine and get into the meat of Proust.


  3. It must have been as delightful for the sailor that you understood the Faulkner reference (notice my attempt to avoid spelling ‘Yoknapatawpha’) as it was for you to hear it. My very first student teaching assignment was to write and deliver a lesson on “A Rose for Emily.” I think I’ll re-read that this weekend …and dream of visiting Galveston Bay.

    1. Hippie Cahier,

      I’ve always joked that I should write a book titled, “I Passed for Blue Collar”. When I first started showing up on the docks to work, reliably sober and speaking in complete sentences, it got interesting a time or two.

      I watched several videos of Faulkner last night, including this one recounting some stories from the time he was at the University of Virginia. “A Rose for Emily” surfaced in the comments as much as any work. Apparently it’s still in the curriculum.

      I found this little tidbit that made me smile: “Faulkner was once asked what people should do if they couldn’t understand his work, even after reading it four times. He answered, “Read it five times.”


      1. Where did you see the videos? Do you know if he’s been featured on The American Masters series? Shouldn’t I be able to find these things out for myself? You are SO correct. :-)

        1. I was looking for something specific, but surfaced this one when I just did a youtube search for “William Faulkner”. A Google search for “William Faulkner videos” or “Faulkner reading” probably would find some off-you-tube things. Another good place to look is the the Open Culture site.

        2. Oh – the comments about “A Rose for Emily”? They were just scattered around. I really can’t point now to which videos they were attached to, but it was definitely youtube.

    1. Bella Rum,

      Glad you enjoyed it. My parents had many virtues, but one of the best was their willingness to indulge me where it counted: travel and books. Some of my best memories are of those vacations and their shelves filled with books. Both came from backgrounds where travel meant a trip to town and books were luxuries, and they were determined I wasn’t going to feel the lack.


      1. Linda,
        The two things that struck me about this post were the two boys who didn’t know their most famous resident and how your parents allowed you to choose the family vacation destination. That never would have happened in my house. Maybe that contributed to your adventurous streak.

        1. We had a kind of routine. Every other year we joined relatives up at Leech Lake in Minnesota so the guys could fish for Muskie, Walleye and whatever. Alternate years, we’d do other things: the Corn Palace and Mt. Rushmore, Colorado, Hibbing and the iron ore range. Midwestern, for sure. I guess they decided after all those years, I deserved a shot.

          My favorite vacation memory is a night we spent in a room above a bar in a town on the Rainy River – part of the Minnesota-Ontario border. There were a lot of drunk people down below. I still remember my dad jamming a chair back under the doorknob. Good times with the family!

  4. If you were such a devout fan of Faulkner’s at such a young ripe age, then it comes as no surprise that you would be such an eloquent writer. (and here I am, not even knowing if the world eloquent can modify writing rather than speaking!) Write on, sister!

    1. Bayou Woman,

      I don’t know as I’m eloquent, but I’m persistent. What I’d love to do is find a way to turn my back-porch-with-a-beer storytelling into written story-telling. I’m working on it, though.

      If you were here, for sure I’d give you a beer and tell you a story. I went into the water today between a dock and a bulkhead – no idea how it happened. I didn’t do any damage to myself, except for a cut and a scrape on one leg and a touch of embarassment. The best part is that I didn’t lose my car keys when I went in – managed to get them back up on the dock while I engineered a way to get myself back on the dock. Two small boys, two boat oars and a couple of heave-hoes later, and I was all set. Talk about a bad day at the office. Think Swamp People needs a klutz for comic relief?


      1. I’m just seeing this reply, Linda. Oh dear me, you had an adventure for sure! Thank goodness there were two small boys and two oars nearby! I was just telling a couple my age at the trash bash Saturday that my adult kids aren’t really comfortable with me going off on boating adventures alone any more, like I’m getting old or something. How dare they? But I guess falling overboard at the dock is way better than being thrown out of a moving boat! How in the WORLD did you manage that? :)

        1. I was doing something I’ve done hundreds of times – taking a shortcut and stepping across from the floating dock to the bank, rather than going the “long way” up the ramp. A narrow walkway edges the grass, cantilevered out over the bulkhead. It’s a gap of maybe three feet. But, if the water’s up and the dock and bank are at the same level, it’s an easy step.If there’s too much difference, I go around.

          This time, it felt fine, but as I made my step I think my shoe slipped on the artificial wood they used for edging. I don’t remember falling – I just opened my eyes and there was all that pretty algae in front of me. I’m sure I went in almost completely upright – otherwise, I would have suffered more damage than I did.

          It’s amazing how many stories I’ve heard in past days about and from people who’ve gone into the water. Most of the stories are just so “non-dramatic”, like the fellow who was reaching across from the dock to retie a line when the boat moved away and there was nothing for it but to fall in. Your kids are right to be concerned – not because you’re old, but because things can happen. Often, they happen to people who are (too?) comfortable around the water.

  5. See now that’s the fun of being around docks – people with stories who are willing to sit a spell and talk. Enjoyed the story of your “pilgrimage” – sounds just like any small town. That last line by Faulkner is a classic.

    Any size boat is likely to be registered Delaware.”Little Feet” definitely was – every little penny counts when you are supporting a boat…everything “marine” cost 3 times what it should. (No, we aren’t made out of money, we just chose to spend it differently…I rode a bike and we had ancient car…)

    Sailing on into those dreams…and keep writing!

    1. phil,

      You certainly know the joys of the docks. There were many things I liked about living aboard, but the camaraderie was the best. Of course, some of the “talk” is just that, but that’s true in any setting.

      You’re right about paying that “marine premium”. My last experience involved the need for a pair of teak plugs. I didn’t happen to have any, so I stopped by West. They could provide a bag of twenty for $8 and change. I went down to Kemah hardware and pulled two out of their bin for fifteen cents each.

      Hailing ports are good, but “matched” boat and dinghy names are the best. I always liked the trawler named “Fantasy” that pulled a dinghy named “Reality”, but if I was persuasive enough, somewhere there’s a Grand Banks named “Biscuit” whose dinghy is “Gravy”. ;)


      1. I’ve seen “Reality’! Docks are paths to a lot of fun people (maybe just a little day sailer…but certain parties are infected with that regatta fever….boat show coming up. Lizard inspired this year – saw his boat and team have arrived…may actually wander over there this year – in the past we enjoyed the music from the parties while sitting on the island)

  6. Seems to me I mentioned watching with awe as a shallow draft house boat cleared the rock reef in Pirates Cove which I have pulled a deeper draft boat or two off and have never crossed . The Port of Registry was Des Moines which explained to us why the pontoons and drive units slid over the reef.So I went looking for navigable water near Des Moines and found this.

    1. Ken,

      Well, I’m sure that scholar at Indiana University was proud of his new theory, but I’m not buying it. We heard about the Moingoana (with all the variant spellings) when I was taking Iowa history in school, but we never heard that it meant… uh…. “that”. (Of course, we wouldn’t.)

      There were people who insisted that Des Moines means “some monks”, but my teachers supported translations of “middle” – a reference to the city being established at a point in the middle of the Fox and Des Moines Rivers. In any event, there’s some other information here.. I’ve heard it suggested that Des Moines really means “Thank goodness we’re not Chicago or St. Louis”, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that, either. ;-)

      My dad and I used to fish on the Raccoon and Fox, but those rivers weren’t going to accept much of a boat. The Des Moines probably could, including pontoon boats. But of course, the boat you saw could have been owned by a transplated Iowan living in BC and pining for the old country.


      1. The official history of Des Moines and the Museum of Hoaxes entry remind me of a littler museum in the small town I grew up in, Armstrong, B.C.

        My great great grand parents were among the first “White Settlers” so their stories were recorded in the museum. When I read the official history attached to the few pictures and artifacts it did not jibe perfectly with the family lore but I “Let it Ride”.

        I’m sure Faulkner was required reading in English 40 so I went to Wiki to see if a title might jog my memory. Nope, but I found this:
        “In an interview with The Paris Review in 1956, Faulkner remarked, “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.”

        1. A few years back, I visited the town where both Mom and Dad grew up. They have one of those little museums, too, and they had their own differences between some “official” and “non-official” stories. Everyone wants to be remembered well, so a little tweaking here and there probably is inevitable. It makes it hard for historians who are interested in the “facts”, but so be it.

          That quotation from Faulkner is a gem. I suppose in the beginning we all start out just wanting to beat ourselves, but that’s just fine. The rest of it? All true, says me. I suppose what he means isnt all that removed from what I’ve believed from the beginning: that the best way to learn to write is to write.


  7. I had no idea that someone can register a boat with a home “port” that’s a landlocked place.

    I’ve never spent any time in Mississippi (other than to pass through it), but I remember the six-minute diatribe that Phil Ochs sang against the state in the late 1960s:

    1. Steve,

      That’s right. As long as you can provide a zip code, your boat’s hailing port could be Yucca Valley or Emporia. I’m sure there’s a reason – I just don’t know what it is. I never understood why they made the change from “home port” to “hailing port”, either.

      I don’t remember this Ochs song. If I’d heard it, I think I would have remembered it. Quite a view of the place. “Draft Dodger Rag” was familiar enough that I still know most of the lyrics, but a quick skim through youtube turned up several unfamililar Ochs songs. Tom Paxton was more popular in late ’60s Iowa. I was amazed to find he’s still touring.


      1. A decade ago I heard Tom Paxton in a house concert here in Austin. I knew some of his songs from the ’60s, but I’d known those of Phil Ochs much better. In my city slicker days at Columbia—in my senior year, I think—he came and gave a free concert in an auditorium on campus. Even in Honduras I had at least one of his albums, and one whose title you can relate to: “Pleasures of the Harbor.”

        1. I’m surprised by how little I knew of Ochs, including the fact of his suicide. On the other hand, I was in Liberia when that happened (1976) and we weren’t getting much news on American singer-songwriters.

          I’ll say this – most of the “pleasures of the harbor” are best accompanied by a drink or two, even if you’ve already been in the drink. ;)

        1. Yes, indeed – and a good song it was. Another non-musical tidbit you might appreciate is this history by Tom Freeland of Oxford about his law firm and Faulkner. I found this especially interesting:

          “During the teens and twenties, Phil Stone began sharing books with and encouraging the writing of his younger friend, William Faulkner. His support extended to having the secretaries in the law office type Faulkner’s early work, and to paying for vanity press publication of The Marble Faun, Faulkner’s first book. ”

          I read Tom’s blog regularly. This video of his father talking about Phil Stone and Faulkner is a gem.

        1. Good grief! There’s a happy little tune. I honestly don’t remember ever hearing it, probably because I never bought a Paxton album and it’s not the sort of thing that would get much radio play. I’ll say this – it wouldn’t take much for me to believe there are some folks around today who lock themselves in the office and listen to this thing, grinning the whole while.

          1. If you’d like to hear a happy little tune, Tom Paxton’s version of his own song can best be described as sarcastically whimsical. Clear Light’s version actually did get good radio play in NJ.

  8. I just love how those kids didn’t have a clue. Can’t say he ever came here! Ha!

    And I especially loved that your parents let you choose the vacation spot. That is unbelievably generous. Everything you have mentioned about them in the past doesn’t make this bit surprise me much, but I do think they’re MOST wonderful. I have to imagine how joyful it was for the sailor to encounter a kindred spirit. Perhaps you’ll have many long and wonderful conversations like that! Not many have that facility!

    1. jeanie,

      What tickles me is thinking about those boys getting through school without knowing Faulkner’s name – at least, apparently. On the other hand, when I think back to my high school years, I remember that even then there were kids whose powers of non-retention were remarkable.

      Actually, this was the only conversation I had with the Yoknapatawpha-dweller. The nature of boats is that they come and they go. I don’t remember how long he was around, but I haven’t seen the boat in some time.It could be in Florida, or the Bahamas, or the Chesapeake. It’s a good reminder to take the time to talk when it comes along – you may not get a second chance!


  9. I love the idea of mapping out an imaginary place. And I love, too, that this imaginary place so captured the boat-owner’s imagination that he claimed it as his hometown. And, truth (in Faulkner’s sense) be told, it was.

    1. Susan,

      I don’t do a lot of “how-to-write” reading, but much of what I’ve read in the past has concerned itself with character(s). Whether it’s a change in my focus or a change in emphasis among folks who think about such things, a sense of place seems to be getting much more attention these days.

      I was playing the “if I had a boat” game last night, trying to decide which hailing port I’d choose. I got stuck between Ithaca, Nebraska (Cavafy) and Alexandria, Louisiana (Durrell). Neither’s a seaport, but Ithaca and Alexandria did for me what Yoknapatawpha did for the boat-owner.


      1. Well, I can only say that your inspirations themselves are inspirations! As to “if I had a boat,” I think the port would have to be Hartford, CN (home of Wallace Stevens). It may be a place best left to the imagination, though the city does have a poet’s walk that follows his walk from home to work and back, sign-posted with the stanzas from the “Blackbird” poem, and his house has been preserved and can be viewed inside and out. It’s not so far from here, though my boat would have to be a car . . .

        1. Magnificent voyages of discovery have been done by foot, when you get right down to it – although you probably wouldn’t want to have a sign painted on your stern.

  10. Very cool that you got to choose the family vacation and go on your own personal pilgrimage.

    I love maps of imaginary places. It’s an invitation to explore a bit on my own. There’s a cartographer who charted the movements of all the major parties in The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy — it’s a wonderful book to “travel” with.

    1. nikkipolani,

      It was very cool. I’m often reminded of my parents when I read about your family. I can’t point to anything specific, except for the very fact that you’re so often doing things together.

      As for fantasy maps – one of my absolute favorites is this one by xkcd, my favorite web comic. Please do notice the cautionary note at the bottom: not to be used for navigation!


  11. What a wonderful story, Linda. You have such a clever way of entwining various ideas and thoughts to make a ‘whole’.

    I have been to Oxford three times…the old university town that must be the original Oxford. There is a river running through, but no lake, although it does have a famous ‘son’ or three.

    Possibly its most famous literary son is Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Caroll. Near the river there’s a delicious teashop called ‘Wonderland’, with walls of ‘looking glass’ covered in Tenniel’s sketches and the most humongous teapots!

    I am glad you were able to converse for a while with a fellow enthusiast – and as one of your other followers wrote – ‘not many have that facility’.

    1. Sandi,

      “My Oxford” was indeed named after “your Oxford”, and from the beginning there was an intention to have a university there. It worked! Now they even have some of your double-decker buses for sightseers to enjoy.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful to enjoy tea at Wonderland with both Dodgson and Faulkner, and listen to them talk about the “worlds” they created? I don’t have a clue whether there would be any natural affinity, but it’s still fun to think about.

      As for the ability to “converse knowledgeably on a wide variety of subjects” – that phrasing sounds old fashioned because it is. It was one of the “non-measurable goals” listed on the back of one of my report cards – from junior high! Good gosh. How the mighty educational system has fallen.


  12. Linda, I saw the title of your blog and had to wait for a longer time to read it and enjoy. Oxford is my old stompin’ ground, having graduated from Ole Miss. Believe it or not, though I was an English major, I don’t recall us ever having to read any Faulkner!! Surprised? So was I.
    I suppose Mr. Bill would have considered it ironic that, years after his death, years after his fame as an author was established, the university in his home town didn’t even ask its English majors to read his writings!

    However, when I was taking a photography class there, one of my favorite spots to take pictures was Rowan Oak, Mr. Bill’s old home. It’s such a beautiful place, Greek Revival in style. It’s nestled amid cedars near campus and actually owned by the University. It’s been renovated several times, but somehow, it manages to keep its rustic charm. The “rowan oak,” as you probably know, was an ancient Celtic tree used as a protection from enchantment.

    Thank you for allowing me to stroll down Memory Lane!

    1. Debbie,

      I am surprised by Faulkner’s absence in the curriculum. I can’t help but think about the old saying about a prophet being without honor in his own country. On the other hand, there seem to be plenty of symposia, conferences, “Faulkner tours” and such today. Perhaps prophets get more honor when their homies figure out a way to garner more profit from them.

      Another, more charitable, explanation might be that your instructors assumed you all were so familiar with Faulkner it would be good to introduce you to other writers. Still, it does seem strange. Did you read Welty, O’Connor, Agee, Robert Penn Warren, and other Southern writers? I suppose so.

      Southern writing is so rich, so unique. I love Flannery O’Connors take: “Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

      Given your history with the place, I suspect you’ll really enjoy the comments and commentary associated with the Bridgman photo taken inside Rowan Oak, if you haven’t already read them.


  13. Thanks for this post; it was thoroughly enjoyable. Note to self: Slip “Yoknapatawpha” into a conversation.

    Your encounter with the boys in the gas station reminded me of a conversation I had with a self-assured professor when I was a grad student at Penn State. He asked where I was from, and I said Paterson, New Jersey, which is where I was born and a name I thought he might recognize — unlike the more accurate “Totowa.” He sniffed and said, “I’ll bet you never even heard of the most famous person to come from Paterson.” I said, “Allen Ginsberg? ‘Hurricane’ Carter? Lou Costello? Larry Doby?” He said in what turned out to be short-lived triumph, “William Carlos Williams.”

    I was happy to point out that Williams, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize poem “Paterson,” was not from there, not even from the same county. Still, I’m sure there are many guys pumping gas in Rutherford, New Jersey, who would be hard put to point out Bill Williams’house.

    1. Charles,

      Maybe you could convince someone the “Yoknapatawpha Slide” is the latest dance craze, or that the Yoknapatwpha (“Yoks” for short) are a newly discovered tribe from the Amazon basin.

      That’s a delightful story about your exchange with the professor. I hope he remembered the lesson. Out of curiosity, I went to look at a list of Paterson’s famous residents. Your short list is only the beginning – and I recognized more names than I would have thought.

      It may be that more people could point the way to Bill Williams’ house than to Bill Faulkner’s simply because he delivered so many of them – or at least their parents. I know that he was a doctor, but I wonder how many of his patients knew he was a writer.

      As for Totowa, it was home for a time to someone that plenty of people know – the blues musician Hubert Sumlin, who played with Howlin’ Wolf and who had quite a career of his own. Maybe we should dedicate his version of “Sometimes I’m Right” to your professor, as a reminder that sometimes we’re wrong. ;)


  14. Excellent post, as always, Linda. Your literary escapades and references make me happy every time I take a virtual trip here. As a woman who has been reading mostly baby-item manuals of late, thank you!

    1. Emily,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. In a way, you’re getting the chance to map out a new territory for you and Elliot to explore. It must be wonderful fun. Every day it will get a bit larger, now and then a new person will be added, and before long, he’ll be the one telling stories about your travels!


  15. This really makes me want to be there and visit in your area. I just got a real sit-down-a spell feeling from this.

    1. Martha,

      Well, you know – that sittin’ and rockin’ and shellin’ and talkin’ routine was one I first knew in Iowa. I’ve seen the same inTexas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Liberia. You’ve got the slow pace down pat just now. Next, you need to begin developing your community, your neighborhood. That will come.

      Which isn’t to say we’d not be happy as the proverbial clams to have you come visit! You watch people on the porches down here, and they’re just like birds on a wire. One more flies in, and we just scootch around to make room.


  16. Oh gosh, what a fun post, Linda. I’ve never been to Mississippi but after reading your post and all the interesting comments I find myself thinking it would be a great idea to go visit Oxford and see his house and even though I’m not a huge fan of Faulkner’s and can only remember reading “As I Lay Dying”, I’m now inspired to read him again.

    How you pronounce “Yoknapatawpha?”.

    I agree with your advice to always take the time to talk when the opportunity comes along. I do that with people I meet at my cash register. They are always ready to tell their stories.

    1. rosie,

      One thing I’ll say – when I first read Faulkner, I was fascinated by the stories, but I don’t think I paid much attention at all to how he did what he did. I dipped back into them about a decade ago, and appreciated the language and structure in a new way. Now, I’m eager to begin re-reading again, with much more context than I ever had, and a new appreciation for Faulkner himself as a writer and a person.

      Wonder of wonders, I even can let the man himself instruct you in the proper pronunciation of “Yoknapatawpha”!

      Telling stories is one of the ways we make sense of reality. Sometimes I wonder if people like you hear so many stories just because people close to the story-tellers have tired of listening before the tellers are finished with their telling!


  17. LOL… Just what I needed. A lighthearted story.

    A boat ‘home ported’ in a landlocked town? Or hail-ported, as it appears the term being used now. Silly phrase, if you ask me.

    I never did get into Faulkner. I tried, let me tell ya. Maybe it was my youth that simply wouldn’t let his writing click with me. I should try again. Perhaps my age, maturity and outlook will make a difference. (No wisecracks about the words in that last statement, if you please!)

    We see lots of boats from “Off.” There’s something about our property tax laws that draw them. They can tied up for a specific length of time without having to pay taxes in the state of SC. I’m not sure what it is. 3 months? 6 months? If they stay any longer than the allowed time, they owe the taxman.

    I wouldn’t have known that fact had there not been some articles in the paper a couple of years or so ago. Someone was pushing to shorten the length of docking time, in an attempt to collect those taxes. Frankly, I believe it would just cause them to move on sooner.

    1. Gué,

      You are, as the saying goes, one smart cookie. There are plenty of cruisers out there – probably 99.9% – who know exactly what the docking limits are in the various states, and plan their itineraries accordingly. I remember people doing that in Florida a good bit. They’d stay just short of the allotted time, then head up the coast – probably to South Carolina! It can get a little complicated, but if you’re just cruising, it really doesn’t make any difference, except to the tax man.

      Liveaboards are something else. It really isn’t fair to move into an area, make use of the amenities but not contribute.A “picturesque” setting like Key West or Sausalito can go downhill pretty quickly. If I remember correctly, there was an attempt in Key West to enforce some standards on liveaboards, and in California, the waiting list can be almost impossible. All of this changes from year to year now, it seems, but you get the drift. ;)

      One of the things I’ve come to terms with over the years is that I don’t have any obligation to read an author, no matter what the reviews say. More than once I’ve picked up a book, gotten thirty pages in and thought, “I don’t know where this is going, but I’m done with it.”

      A friend and I watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild” the other night, and had the same reaction to the film. We watched to the end, but once it was over we looked at one another and said, “What was that all about?” We’re still not sure. I asked my friend if she wanted to watch it again and she said, “Are you kidding?” What a bunch of philistines we are.


      1. I agree with you; if a book or movie doesn’t grab me right off the bat, that’s it.

        I used to keep forging ahead, thinking ‘It has to get better” but I finally gave it up as a total waste of time.

        On rare occasions, I might pick a book up or try watching a movie again. I have found that sometimes I’m just not in the right mood or mindset on the first go round.

        1. I mentioned to you the “sign” I got from the universe that maybe I need to give “Beasts of the Southern Wild” another go. Here’s Hushpuppy facing down one of the beasts in the film, and here’s the crest of the Crowley family, my maternal side. It’s interesting that there’s a Crowley, Louisiana just west of the Atchafalaya. Who knows what might be lurking in that Swamp?!

          1. What’s lurking in the swamp?

            Wild boars, perhaps; though maybe not quite as big as Hushpuppy was facing.

  18. lol…My question to you, as I read through all the conversation, was exactly Rosie’s question. How do you pronounce Yoknapatawpha? Thank you for the explanation. I loved the audio-video clip of Faulkner pronouncing Yoknapatawpha. Interesting how succinctly he broke the name up into syllables Yok-na-pa-taw-pha and clearly explained its meaning from the Chickasaw. What tickled me most was his pronunciation of “w”, like “dub-ya”.

    I’m glad you were able to follow up your few minutes of pleasantries with such wonderful conversation with the boat captain from NY who registered his boat in Oxford, Miss. We certainly were the beneficiaries of this Faulkner tale.

    1. Georgette,

      And now I’m tickled, remember Molly Ivins giving George W. Bush the business, always with that “Dubya” nickname.

      For some time I’ve resisted the temptation to think you truly can find anything on the internet, but when I found that video of Faulkner himself teaching the pronunciation of his mythical land, I almost was convinced.

      As for the boat owner – the world’s filled with people who are passionately interested in everything from Faulkner to butterflies to Mississippi blues to the art of cake-making. It’s the passion that’s as interesting as the subject. I’m reading a book now about an Appalachian chair-maker. I’ve learned as much from him about creativity as from most “creativity experts”. It’s his passion that makes the difference – although he’d never put it in quite those terms.


    1. Thanks, FeyGirl! We’re all story-tellers at heart, I think. You tell stories about your place in the world, I tell stories about mine. And probably the reason any of us like one author or another is that they tell stories in a way that resonates with us and makes us part of their world – if only for a while. (Well, except for that boat-owner, who decided to do what he could to live in a parallel universe!)


  19. Thanks for the opportunity to learn a little more about Faulkner! I have to say that boat bit is what most captured my attention since I can soon start thinking about readying my boat for Lake Ontario. Marinas really are the most interesting places. I grew up in the parkland just north of the prairie, and so the Great Lakes are a new culture for me, but one I am loving.

    Maybe the summer will afford me the opportunity to read some Faulkner on my boat. What would you recommend for a novice?

    1. Allen,

      The Great Lakes are a mystery to me. I’ve known some people who raced on Michigan, and of course I know of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but I still have a hard time imagining their size and the ferocity of their storms. Here in Texas, we have some good lakes, but I’m not sure we have any great lakes. I have been told that sailing on Michigan is the same as ocean sailing. I can believe it.

      As for Faulkner – I think my recommendation would be to get “The Portable Faulkner”, edited by Malcolm Cowley. The introduction and editor’s notes are invaluable, and the work is arranged chronologically so it sort of eases you into his world.

      If I were to recommend a novel, I think it would be “Light in August”. It’s – uh – not the cheeriest thing in the world, but it’s accessible. “The Bear” is great. Just whatever you do, don’t start with “The Sound and the Fury”. Just don’t. There are people out there who’ll tell you, “But. It. Is. A. Masterpiece.” And yes, I think it is. Maybe. But it’s in four section with four narrators and… I need to re-read it myself, just because it kept giving me a headache. ;)


      1. Thanks for this. I seem to remember trying Faulkner just once, and I have a funny feeling it was “The Sound and the Fury”. As I recall, I didn’t get too far, which left me feeling a little guilty, since people speak so highly of Faulkner. The “Portable” sounds like a good way to go. Thanks!

        As for the Lakes, my wife and I are fairly new to sailing and mostly stay in a protected bay,although every now and then we venture into Lake Ontario. The water is a beautiful blue a little like the blue of the photo of my gravatar. Also, not too much dead air.

  20. Oh, it’s been far too long since I was here . . . thank you for continuing to write beautiful, funny prose. . . and thanks for this tour of Faulkner’s homeland.

    1. andi,

      How nice to see you! And thanks much for your kind words. “Beautiful” and “funny” both are hard to do, each in their own way. To the extent that I can manage either, I’m pretty happy.

      Your site is looking wonderful. I’m not quite sure how you’re managing to do all you do – either farming or writing seems capable of eating up plenty of hours. But I’m glad to be back in touch, and though you’ll not see me on FB or twitter (much) I’ll be following along.


  21. Oh, to own a boat and sail up the Mississippi. Your descriptive words paint pictures so well that my mouth is watering … for travel. I actually feel I’ve travelled afar, to get down here to the comment section. :-)
    (Mention of Galveston had me singing Glen Campbells song… Good job you couldn’t hear) Pen x

    1. penpusherpen,

      Just a suggestion – if you want to go up the Mississippi, you’ll probably need a power boat instead of a sailboat. The current moving downstream probably would send your sailboat backwards, right past New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico! (Well, except in drought years, when the river’s shallow and slow.) Besides, you’d want a little extra oomph to avoid all that commercial traffic!

      I do understand the “let’s just go!” urge, though. The worst thing about writing of these other places is that I want to be there again – or, be somewhere I haven’t yet seen.

      Your mention of Glen Campell reminded me again how rarely I hear that song. You’d think it would be more popular around Galveston itself – or perhaps it was, back in the day. Now, you’re more likely to hear Reggae or Jimmy Buffett along the seawall, but I discovered there are plenty of videos with footage of The Island – including one from pre-Hurricane Ike that shows a shrimp boat named “Lil’ Abner” that’s still around! Fun to see.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your nice comments. You’re always welcome!


  22. Linda,

    While scrolling down, I read your response to Bella Rum and am still thinking about especially this part — “My parents had many virtues, but one of the best was their willingness to indulge me where it counted: travel and books.” So much, that I forgot the pronunciation of Yoknapatawpha.
    I admire that you know how to approach people, and learn from them, and laugh, too. It’s a rare quality, it is!


    P.S. I also read your response to AIT and found out that you are/were confused about our blogs and corresponding names. Weathered Priya is what I was in my blog called Weather Me Well. I have since decided to close it. I am now finelighttree, and intend to be so in the blogging world. Too many changes has made my head a centrifuge.

    1. Priya,

      It’s quite amazing to me, how much I’ve changed in my life. I was the shyest child and youth you could imagine, with no self-confidence at all. Even when I succeeded at something, I was certain it was a mistake! My goodness. I suppose it’s a reminder to parents and adults everywhere – if the seed is good, and it’s planted well, it will be ready for harvest eventually. It just may take a little longer than we expected.

      And I’m glad for the clarification. I was confused – seriously so. And I was glad to see that comments will be allowed on your new blog. Now that I know who you are and where you are, I’ll be following along.


      1. My new blog isn’t new at all, actually. It contains the old posts from my first blog Partial View, posts from Particularly Interested (originally intended to be a photoblog) and posts from Weather Me Well (now in the process of deletion). Phew? I know.

        But I am that worthy seed, who finds her roots and refinds them over and over again! Our parents do good, Linda. It is for us to know our worth. Thank you for being around to tell me things I crave to know and hear.

  23. As I wrote once, “I was in my early 20s when I first read Absalom, Absalom. It replaced Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as “my” book. I read it repeatedly. How could I have ever related to Stephen Daedalus the way I then related to Quentin Compson, I wondered. I then saw myself as Quentin, wrestling with the past in his college dorm room. I felt a definite attachment to Quentin, his melancholy and guilt, his urge to tell a story that few could appreciate fully, his loneliness and his awareness of his place in that story. And like Quentin, I knew that others would never be able to understand that place.”

    That was a phase in my journey through coming of age books.

    Later, I returned to Mr. Faulkner, reading and reviewing everything he wrote, as well the most highly regarded criticism and some biographies. For over a year it was all I read.

    Over time my love of all things Faulkner has waned some. I think there is merit to Ellen Glasgow’s comments about his work (“fantastic nightmares” and the like). But there is no escaping or denying the resonance I feel with much of his writing. I often feel that I understand the story he is telling in ways that only I (and presumably he) can. That so many people feel that way when reading him is a testimony to his genius.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Bill,

      It’s interesting to look back and see which books and authors have resonated most for us over the years. Sometimes, even a single character can become the focus, as though they hold the key to understanding our own lives. And that waning of interest you speak of is perfectly natural and perhaps even desirable. It’s a sign of our own growth, moving on to other things and seeing life in new ways.

      Despite reading Faulkner’s stories and novels for years, it was my first exposure to his Nobel Prize speech that re-ignited my interest in his work and let me see it in a new way. Truth to tell, even if I hadn’t read a lick of his work the speech would have been compelling on its own. I can’t help but think that all the story-telling Faulkner did turned him into the person who gave that speech.
      We tend to forget that while we’re shaping words, our words are shaping us.

      He’s become a bit of a cottage industry now, and my recent dip into some of the writing about him left me with my eyes just slightly glazed. But his stories? As powerful as ever, and as true.


  24. Actually, like a few others, I was struck by your parents allowing you to choose a holiday destination! Lucky you. Mind you, some of my friends were gobsmacked when they learned that my parents allowed me to navigate us across France by the small roads when I was pretty young. Maybe that’s why I like maps :)

    I love place names and the US has such a mix and they always manage to sound exotic and ‘other’ even when they are named after the original! I find that quite interesting – language and place. I was actually born in the original…I’m glad my parents didn’t call me Maud, which was one of their first ideas. Perhaps it would be ok now because old fashioned names are in vogue but I’m not sure I would have survived at school in the 60’s and 70’s with a name like that.

    I’m not familiar with Faulkner and now I have far too many books to read from all this blogging. ;)

    1. thinkingcowgirl,

      Isn’t being navigator fun? I did some of that as a child with my parents, but I think you would have had a harder time of it and probably became more skilled. Iowa was laid out on a section grid with long, straight roads. It wasn’t a bit like the French countryside. It was so flat that if you got lost you could just head for one of the clumps of silos and barns and ask directions.

      Texas is filled with unusual town names: Dimebox, Muleshoe and Cut and Shoot come to mind. Paris, Texas is named after Paris, France, of course, and has its own Eiffel Tower. A string of little towns along a rail line are named for the daughters of the Italian Count who showed up to build the railroad: Edna, Louise and Inez. Their family name was Telferner, and there’s a town by that name, too.

      Best of all, there’s a Hereford, Texas, named after the place in England!

      I’ve never known a Maud, but we have a branch library named after Maud Smith Marks. I was curious about her history and found this: ” The library’s namesake, Maud Smith Marks (1887-1970), was co-owner of the LH7 Ranch in Addicks, Texas. As the bride of Emil Marks, she came to the area in 1907 at the age of 20. By the 1930s the Marks’ 63-acre ranch had grown to 30,000 acres, incorporating land in Barker, Texas.”

      So “our” Maud was a rancher, too! Quite a coincidence.


      1. 30,000 acres! It’s hard to imagine. You’d definitely need a horse for that.

        Actually I went riding at a place in Alabama which was pretty big and you could take the horses out unsupervised – so different from here. Our day was going well until a couple of drunk ‘rednecks’ ( a new term for me back then) took a couple of horses out and galloped them into a boggy bit and a horse broke it’s leg and had to be shot. It was very upsetting. Other than that I couldn’t believe the SPACE we had to ride in – maybe some 50,000 acres I seem to recall.

        1. What a sad tale – I can imagine you’d be upset. I hope that rider still feels awful about that incident. But as for the space – it’s wonderful. It’s one of the things I like most about Texas (along with its variety).

  25. OK truth might surface sometimes or maybe not. What I know of Oxford, Ms? Oxford American Mag. The sorta kinda thing as an 8 year old intellectual I could of wrapped still unspoiled brain cells around. Too bad the future was dimmer than I thought. Gonna rain this week maybe so I’ll do some Faulkner reading as I don’t remember him in my millions of books read. Fiction is not my best interest. Vacations were not part of farming.

    1. blu,

      Vacations were part of the rhythm of our town’s life when I was growing up – though, as you say, not for the farmers. Dad worked for Maytag, and every summer in July they shut the plant down for maintenance and everyone went on vacation. It was pretty amazing. A friend’s family stayed home one year, and she said it was the weirdest thing ever with so many people gone.

      I’m not one to gravitate to fiction first. I like biography, essays, history, travel writing. I guess there’s a new term now, too – creative non-fiction. That’s good, too.

      I’ve got some Faulkner in the pile for a re-read – just to see how it strikes me now. And I see the Oxford American Magazine is still rolling along. I might dip into that, too, just for fun.

      If you’re getting rain, count yourself lucky. Even this batch they’re predicting for this week’s going to stay north of us. We’re turning grumpy over it. ;)


    1. themodernidiot,

      You’re welcome – glad you enjoyed it. It looks like you’re in the vicinity of some of my old stomping grounds. I did some summer workshops at the University of Iowa so far back in the day it’s nearly unimaginable, but it was a good time. I hope yours is, too.


      1. It’s maddening! 3 weeks left and profs dump all the final projects and papers on us. Who does that? :)

        Regarding your post, I love that appreciation for Faulkner is still alive and well even if it is over the ‘county’ line. I have a friend from Hattiesburg that says the literature ’round his parts consists of Bibles and the backs of Doritos bags.
        I’d say the same up here at the U. I don’t think white people can overcome their slave-guilt to read Faulkner’s full intent. Battling with a prof who insists Sutpen is just a 1-dimensional allegory for the slavery-south.

        I think she gets her lit analyses from spark notes.

        I tried out for the workshop, but I was told since I didn’t eat, live, and breathe writing, or carry around a journal everywhere I went, I wasn’t right for the program. No skin off my nose, saves me the extra tuition haha.

        We’re finally getting some sunshine in the corn belt, and it’s breathing life into the English department. I think our budding writers will benefit from the extra sunshine and time away from the dark ages. The halls were starting to resemble a zombie parade.

        1. Oh, I should clarify. I wasn’t involved in “The” Workshop. I was there in high school, for speech and drama workshops. All things considered, they might have been more fun that the “biggie”, but they certainly had their own sort of angst attached.

          I laughed at literature consisting of the Bible and the back of a Doritos bag. It reminded me of the time I begged and begged my mother to change our breakfast cereal from raisin bran to something else. She did, but she didn’t find out for fifty years the reason I wanted the change. She wouldn’t let me read at the table, so I read the cereal box. Eventually I had it memorized, and needed some new material.

          Happy spring!

    1. John!

      How nice of you to stop by – and thanks. I must say – not only was I surprised by the selection, I was very nicely surprised by the email I received from WordPress telling me of the selection. It obviously had been written by a real person. A nice touch, I must say.

      Not only that, we had two inches of rain a day or so ago, so I’m feeling doubly blessed! Say hi to Granny Anne for me!


  26. Hi Linda.
    I’m a fan of Faulkner (anyone who can fit two colons into the same sentence is fine by me), and also fascinated by the mythical nature of family — either in the place of Yoknapatawpha (his creation) or Galveston, which is one of the many places I’ve discovered family of my own in the past year that I’ve spent pursuing genealogy.

    In that time, I’ve assembled a database of more than 3,000 names in my extended family tree, most of whom are as mythical to me as are the members of the Snopes clan, as they all exist only on paper, or in stories. The Galveston connection, for example, is a second cousin who served in the customs office in that city until his retirement. He died in 1984, about 30 years before I knew enough to start looking for him.
    Best regards,

    1. John,

      What an interesting search you’re engaged in. I’ve begun some of that searching myself, as my great-great-grandfather spent the bulk of his Civil War service in Texas and Lousiana. Your comment is a reminder to me that, if I’m going to tell his story, I need to get cracking. I’m going to run out of time myself before too long. ;-)

      Best wishes for enjoyable searching and a satisfying project. Stories are doubly wonderful when they’re ones we play a role in, however tangentially.


    1. thatgirlnathalieapple,

      I’m especially fond of that photo of Faulkner. I’m glad you enjoyed the images. Thanks for commenting, and enjoy your own new venture in blogging!


    1. My pleasure, Vonn. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed your photos, as I lived in Berkeley for three years and spent a good bit of time in San Francisco. It was delightful to relive some of those days through your images.


    1. Linda,

      Good for you! Enjoy the work, and enjoy its completion! We Faulkner fans are out here, we just have to remind each other now and then!

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for commenting.


  27. Fantastic, this is my first hour on WordPress and I’m a huge Faulkner fan. What boggles my mind is that this is the first blog I clicked on and I’m from the Clear Lake area, working as a dockhand right now! I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the Faulkner aficionado. Good stuff!

    1. conradzachary,

      Welcome to WordPress! It’s a lot of fun. I know you’ll enjoy it. You’ll also find it’s a very small world – I found one of my favorite bloggers lives only a few blocks from me, and another lives almost next to a good friend – in Wales!

      Glad you enjoyed the read. Best of luck with your own blog.


    1. Thanks, ma’am! But you know what was almost as good as getting freshly pressed? Getting to meet an old friend! Carson and Barnes circus, from Hugo, was in town and you bet I was right there. I had a wonderful time visiting with some of the folks, and learned a lot – mentioning Rosie and Opal was a real conversation-starter, as you might imagine.


  28. As a Mississippian, I appreciate your post. As someone who frequents Oxford, I understand your awe in the imaginary world of our beloved William Faulkner. The magic of of that imaginary world is still alive.

    The rest of the world seems to think Mississippians are entrenched in old-seated racism. I beg to differ. Even James Meredith, who left Mississippi after Ole Miss for a northern state, is quoted as saying that racism is much worse in some larger cities than in Mississippi.

    Anyway, so much for that. Enjoyed your post.

    1. Judy,

      I’ve enjoyed “surfacing” a few folks from your area with this post. As a matter of fact, one of the WordPress folks who selected it for the Freshly Pressed list is from Mississippi – which probably explains why the title caught her eye.

      Racism? No boundaries for that one, and no justification for linking it to one state, one kind of community or one area of the country. I’ve known urban blacks whose prejudice toward white folks was stunning, and well-educated “northern” whites who could say the most amazing things about Hispanics. Yes, Mississippi has a history of racism, but you can find equivalent history in my beloved Texas.

      It does tickle me that folks who like to brag about their open-mindedness and lack of prejudice can stereotype with impunity when it comes to, say, Mississippi.

      Since you’re in the area, there’s another blog you might enjoy if you haven’t run across it already. It’s called NMissCommentor and is maintained by an Oxford lawyer, Tom Freeland.

      Many thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. You’re welcome any time.


  29. Amazing achievement! Congrats on being chosen for “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress! Your pilgrimage to Bill Faulkner’s home resonates a little as I remember my experience a few years ago while visiting Toronto, trying to locate the apartment where E. Hemingway used to stay for a short while.

    1. Arti,

      I think I remember that. Weren’t you reading “The Paris Wife” at the time? (You were! I found your entry and enjoyed it again!)
      I love the plaque on the building. A blogging friend in Louisiana went over to New Orleans a couple of weeks ago and found the building Faulkner stayed in there for a time. These authors do get around.

      This is one of my favorite posts, so it was a real pleasure to have it chosen. Thanks for the congrats!


    1. sandradan1,

      There’s very little more pleasurable than pulling out one of the “oldies but goodies”, and this surely is one of Faulkner’s. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. I do love sharing my loves with others.

      Thanks, too, for your kind comment. You’re welcome any time.


    1. Andrew,

      Glad you enjoyed it. And no – I didn’t know either the author or his stories. But I see he’s been compared to Faulkner. Not only that, one of my other favorites, Graham Greene, was a mentor of sorts and helped him get published. Clearly, this is someone whose work I need to explore. Thanks for the tip!


  30. Lives are like the boats in the marina. They come and go. We meet someone, and if we’ve truly met them, they stay with us for a while… sometimes a long while, and then we go… Faulkner got to know a lot of people over there in Oxford, but most had no idea of who he was, and even when he got to be a celebrity… a guy making good bucks in Hollywood, they had no idea… that’s the way it is in that fictional dream they call the real world. So it’s no surprise those gas jockeys didn’t know who Bill Faulkner was… after all, he hadn’t bought gas there lately. Though maybe, if you’d talked a while to them, offered them a beer down the street… you might have seen a glimpse of Faulkner himself in the curl of a lip or the corner of the eye as they told you what they did know.

    1. Of course, youth played a role in this story, too. I was only sixteen, and they couldn’t have been so much older themselves. I’d barely begun to appreciate the complex realities of Faulkner’s fictional world, let alone the complexities of the real world in which I lived. In a way, that constrained world view is what gives little vingettes like this their charm. They’re a way of recalling not only a specific encounter, but also the people we once were, before a lifetime of encounters shaped us into a newer, more complex version of our selves.

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