Friday, June 06, 2008


Yes, I know it's the middle of the say, so it must be a little disconcerting to see anew post pop up, but I thought the ending to that last post was a little mis-leading. On a little further reflection, I remembered one time recently I was quite happy, and -- truth be told -- I feel a little hangdog for skipping over it.

Probably the day or the day after the last hiatus here, I went to an It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia marathon at the home of Miss Laura Llew. That was a legitimately happy time, but the moment that stands out comes a little bit later.*

After getting terribly lost in upstate SC and narrowly avoiding a lynch mob down Bob Jones University way, I didn't get started back home till late -- late by my standards, which meant 3.30 am or so, I started back home. The sun rose about 15 or 20 miles from home, and by then I was punchy from lack of sleep and the last effects of some particularly good bourbon. My voice was a little scratchy from singing aloud various Belle and Sebastian songs.

But that moment reminded me of many, many other very happy moments, and not a few of them were under nearly identical circumstances, so it reminded me of an earlier period when I was quite happy, quite often.

Like times when I had to avoid a head-on collision with another car because the highway on-ramp and exit ramp were one and the same in this little town, which sounds terrifying (and was at the time), but now strikes me as hysterically funny, if not pointlessly symbolic.

Or like any number of occasions when I had to drive back from the Outer Banks or elsewhere and wouldn't leave till after dark and still faces a 6- or 8-hour drive.

So there. Happy.

*Anyone else and I might think that would be the suggestion of a poor hostess and not mention it, but I'm reasonably sure Laura understands.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More Hardy than Wolfe

You know, after last night's post, I went digging through my boxes of books (all 1440+) to find my copy of The Web and the Rock. I remembered that it started out with a reference to Old Catawba, the name of the river that runs by here. Turns out I was wrong, incidentally.

In the midst of rooting around in all those books, I found a journal I kept from my last vacation. I bought because it was a cute, recycled children's and I knew I would be online for the duration.

It wasn't in with my other journals. It had been tossed in a box with some other books from my bedroom, mostly Southern lit -- Faulkner, Judge Whedbee's ghost stories, Capote.

I made the mistake of leafing through a few pages, just skimming it over without taking much in, when I realized it was exactly a year ago. I didn't think it would bother me much, and I don't think it per se did. Well, not per se. Maybe ipsa re. It did eventually make me pretty sad as it made me reflect on my life then, as opposed to now.

I haven't been out of the house in... well, the last day of Forum, which was the 18th of May. And I literally can't remember the last time I was legitimately happy about anything. That shouldn't make me want to die, but it sort of does.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I suppose you could. It'd be very Faulkner-y, "The Snopes done come to meetin' "looking, though.

The above quote was from a discussion I had with Ms Llew about wearing China Doll Dresses and petticoats. If pressed, I'd probably say specifically from Sanctuary. I hardly ever quote myself for a title, but I thought it was funny.

I can't believe it's been over two months from my last entry. I was in a local community theatre production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum for much of it. It was just as pointless over-dramatic and fraught with disaster as you think. I may well get around to discussing it more (there were some legitimately funny things in it) but not now.

One of the reasons that I started with a Faulkner mention is that something about this time of year always makes me pick up one of his books, and then read several more. I started out this year with where I left off with The Hamlet last year*. That doesn't really work, so I started off from the beginning of it again and finished it within two days. I want to finish The Town and The Mansion before summer gets too far along.

I decided to hold back a bit and try something else. This may (appropriately enough) be the Summer of Southern Writers. Before moving on to The Town -- which I could only ever find in the last volume of the Library of America series, although Wikipedia shows that somewhere there's version to match the old school Vintage editions -- I decided to read Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward Angel, especially since it's roughly contemporary to Faulkner on a few levels.

But it's far harder going that Faulkner. I don't want to say it's clunky, but... it lacks a certain evocative economy when compared to Faulkner. Wolfe is into minute detail and laborious description. Most strikingly, he tries to affect something akin to a literary montage -- an early-ish chapter on morning in Altamount comes to mind -- that attempts to pile incident upon incident to evoke morning. In purely visual terms, it would work. But a picture being worth a thousand words, the result in a novel is long-winded description for its own sake that doesn't achieve a lot. Stylistic masturbation?

I wouldn't be surprised. Wolfe himself was never one to decry his own talent; it's hard not to see that kind of ego in the prose and what it asks of the reader. It isn't quite so bad as to make me throw the book down (yet), but it requires of the reader a certain dedication that I'm just not sure is warranted.

What's really scary is that this is the /edited/ version of Wolfe's work. When he died, he left hundreds of manuscript pages that his editor just sort of hacked into his last two novels. I read bits of The Web and the Rock in college, and what I recall of it corresponds to my worst fears.

When Wolfe died, Faulkner called him the best writer of their generation. I just don't see that. Maybe by the time I finish LHA, I will.

*I think I started Absalom, Absalom! at least eight times before I finished it.