It is kind of cool to say that I read Jesmyn Ward before reading William Faulkner, but as a former Mississippian it felt wrong never to have read Faulkner so I purchased As I Lay Dying and devoured it while strapped to an airplane on a recent business trip. Faulkner is a legend, of course, especially so in Mississippi what with his Nobel and multiple Pulitzers and all.
As I Lay Dying is probably Faulkner’s runner-up to The Sound and the Fury for his best-known novel and is most assuredly a depressing story. The pitiful Bundren family’s sad series of misadventures attempting to bury the family matriarch is, well, pity-full, but instead of proceeding straight to therapy upon completing the book I found myself reflecting on Faulkner’s style.
If you remember (and/or care), Faulkner used fifteen different narrators for fifty-nine tiny chapters and a stream of consciousness literary technique that shared the disparate thoughts passing through the minds of his grieving characters. As he did, I found myself noticing and relating to their obvious loneliness, their feelings of detachment from everyone else. Each was so very alone. Alone with his or her thoughts.
I surely get how that feels.
There are many odd things about me, but the one I will share today boys and girls is that for some undetermined reason in my loneliness I regularly write down my inner monologue and share it with the world at large. That is odd, best I can tell. Most people learn to keep their thoughts to themselves, but I presumably was absent that day.
Maybe it is my own meager attempt to defeat loneliness. Or maybe loneliness has liberated me so that I am unafraid to share my inner thoughts. Or maybe I am just weird. All are valid options.
Regardless, it is what I do, for what it is worth. Welcome to my world. Pull up a chair and stay awhile if you have nothing better to do.
Thank you for expressing your thoughts. Maybe your need to express these feelings points to something special about you! It may be evidence of that feeling of “dislocation” which many other artists have tried to describe. It’s something that can only be addressed through a creative endeavor—writing, music, art, etc. My favorite Mississippi writer on this topic is Walker Percy. (What is it about Mississippi that makes it produce so many talented writers?) He was a genius, of course, and he tapped into that sense of dislocation of mankind. He expertly observed how strange it is that man often times feels happy when circumstances are bad but paradoxically feels bad when conditions are good. It doesn’t make complete sense, but it certainly points to our spiritual nature. What I’m trying to say is that it’s clear to me that you’ve got a novel in you that needs to be written down! Percy didn’t publish The Moviegoer until he was in his 40’s.
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Thanks, Lane! Your kind words mean a lot to me. You definitely have the lead on being my publicist/agent/encourager. 🙂 I feel a long ways away from a novel but do find the idea intriguing. And the concept of dislocation does hit home. Shoot, now I need to read Percy. 🙂
You may, indeed, be weird, but I prefer to see you as refreshingly different. Keep it up. Whatever it is, I enjoy it and actually benefit from it.
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Thanks, Jere! Your encouragement along the way has definitely kept me going. I’ll sure take “refreshingly different.” I even like the sound of it.