Through the cracks is a review series focusing on the ones that got away. These are the timeless classics that everyone has read – everyone, that is, except the reviewer, who is finally getting around to reading a book which somehow slipped through the cracks and trying to see if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.
I’m from New Albany, Mississippi. Birthplace of William Faulkner. I lived much of my childhood about two miles or so from his childhood home. I went to New Albany High School, where Faulkner pride was contagious and inescapable. I went on to attend Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi – where Faulkner lived as an adult. One of my classes met once at Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home, because, well hello, how do you attend Ole Miss and not visit William Faulkner’s home at some point? So, as you can see, a lot of Faulkner for me. A whole lot. I’m even a (very) distant cousin to the man. So can someone please explain to me how I never read a Faulkner novel, either in high school where, as I said, Faulkner was revered and beloved, or at Ole Miss, where he was possibly more revered and beloved? And I was an English major, for crying out loud… I guess it’s just that even though all my high school teachers taught a Faulkner novel most years, I somehow fell in the year that skipped him – all four years. Then in college, I never could work out my schedule to include the Southern lit class I so desperately wanted to take. When I finally did manage to get into a writing course that taught a Faulkner novel, I had to drop it because of unforeseen difficulties in commuting to the branch. I mean, I’d read a couple of short stories in some survey courses. I think I’d had “A Rose for Emily” at least three times. But no novel. It just slipped through the cracks. Well, no more. I recently picked up As I Lay Dying, and jumped in. It’s just not right to have grown up where I did, have gone to school where I did, even be who I am – a distant relative, a Mississippian – without ever reading a Faulkner novel.