07 April 2007

When Famous Authors Write for Cash

I spent today actively not thinking about my school situation and instead focusing on the things that I have to do Right Now: laundry, homework due Tuesday, read to my children, various art projects, grocery shopping.

I finally finished William Faulkner's The Unvanquished, which was taking longer and longer to get through. I had to chose a book relating to the American Civil War as a project for school (okay, I could have chosen a movie (approximate running time: 2 hours) or a single poem (approximate reading time: 0.5 hours) or something significantly shorter than The Unvanquished. I chose it because Faulkner is on my really long list of Authors I Should Read In Order To Impress People At [English Department] Dinner Parties.

It's not that it was bad per say. Some of the stories were really pretty cool, like the one about Baynard's cousin Drusilla who hacks off all her hair and joins the Confederate army and whose spirit is permanently crushed after the war by a vicious group of southern "ladies." I think the problem was that the stories, which were hastily written for cash over a period of a few years in the 1930s, grow progressively wordy, the descriptions and sentences growing longer and longer. This felt somehow counter intuitive. Shouldn't the author assume that the reader requires less description towards the end of the story rather than more? But since money was the issue for Faulkner at the time (and we can all relate to that) I will let it slide.

Still, once a person is famous, is it really possible to write anything and make some money off of it? I have trouble believing that Faulkner made such a name for himself writing things that are just like this one. Which, sadly, means that I can't actually cross him off my list. I guess I will have to read The Sound and the Fury and then if I still don't really like him, just forget the whole thing.

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