Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Major English English Major Revelation

So, it's embarrassing as a writer, English major, and bibliophile to admit, I have authors I do not like.  Faulkner is one of them.

Back in college, as a Freshman, I read and reread and reread "The Sound and the Fury." No matter what I did, the words did not make sense to me. The professor gave us a pop quiz.  I vomited into that test everything I could think of to prove to the man, I'd read the book.   Of the ten questions on the test, I got zero correct. 

To make matters worse, the professor thought I'd written my answers as a parody of the actual book, as proof I didn't read.  He read my answers aloud as everyone laughed.  It stunk to high heaven, and after that, I swore off the man.

I also do not like Camus.

As a Junior, I contracted the chicken pox second semester.  In the infirmary, in January, in Southbend, trapped in a windowless room, covered in sores, with a portable black and white television with two and a half channels, and an assignment in my Law and Politics class to read, "The Plague."  Not a fun moment.

The course turned out to be an all you can eat Albert Camus buffet which to my and a few of my fellow classmates' sensibilities required a hot fudge sundae afterwards as a chaser to ward off discouragement.   We read it, we discussed it, we wrestled with it, we still thought, who wants to spend time and a life thinking this way?  Pass the hot fudge.

Fast forward to this semester at work, and I've spent two weeks reading "Light in August," and another week reading "The Stranger."  If they'd given me a pop quiz on Faulkner, I think I'd have fared no better this time around.   I could read it, I could understand it, I could discuss it.  What I could not do, was tell you the sequence of events.  It makes sense.  Sequence of events did not seem to matter to Faulkner.   I almost convinced myself that I liked it, until I got the next assignment.


Reading "The Stranger," I found it much easier to understand than before, and while I don't need hot fudge to muddle through it, I woudln't have minded if someone said, "Hey, let's go get ice cream."
It wounded my psyche to think, I preferred French absurdist fiction to Southern Gothic. 

Maybe I should have tried Faulkner with a scoop of Pralines and Cream.

It couldn't hurt.

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