William Faulkner left this earth on July 6, 1962 but the gift of story has rendered him immortal. He lives through the novels he meticulously penned, images painted so vividly that one can never forget them, even if she (hmmm…me?) happens to hate stream of consciousness writing.
He also lives in the stories of his colorful life passed down with a shake of the head and a chuckle by the sensible residents of Oxford, Mississippi where he was known as “Count No Account” or “That Crazy Writer Feller”. The ghost of Faulkner stalks the alleyways of Oxford where he drove his rickety pickup truck and in the back room of the post office where the Nobel Prize winner who was forever short on cash couldn’t quite hold down a job. Some say he was fired, others say he quit. Everyone agrees he was a terrible employee who put the mail in the boxes when he felt like it, read the magazines that came in before sending them to their owners, and played cards on a table in the back with his buddies. Everyone in Oxford has a Faulkner story, and so he lives on.
He was a Mississippi boy at heart who loved the outdoors, and his pipe. He had a terrible weakness for whiskey.
But most of all, he loved the written word and that is reason enough for me to have a soft spot for this old southerner who grew out of the same Mississippi clay where the roots of my family tree run deep. I visited my mom recently for the holidays and asked if we could visit his home, Rowan Oak. She was happy to indulge me, and so we loaded up my four younger kids and took a walk in Faulkner’s footsteps.
It was just too much fun.