Symposium club meets
Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:00 pm
Symposium Review Club met recently at the home of Linda Lou Harding in Union City. Co-hostess Linda Jennings served a dessert of pineapple pie.
Mary Elizabeth Nohsey presented a delightful program in the form of a review of the current book, “Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi.” The book was written by Dean Faulkner Wells of Oxford, Miss., and released on March 27, 2011, at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford, where the screen play of “Intruder in the Dust,” written by her uncle, William Faulkner, premiered 60 years ago. Sadly, Ms. Wells, who lived in the house built by her Faulkner grandparents in 1931, died following a stroke on July 27, 2011, at the age of 75.
Ms. Wells was the sole surviving family member of the generation that followed that of William Faulkner, her uncle who was always “Pappy” to her, as as her father, Dean Swift Faulkner, died in a plane crash shortly before his only child was born. There was no one in the family left to dispute or complain about or be embarrassed by what Ms. Wells might say; so she said it all. And she said it well.
There have been other Faulkner family memoirs: brother John’s “My Brother Bill,” nephew Jimmy’s “Across the Creek,” brother Murry’s “The Faulkners of Mississippi,” stepson Malcolm’s “Bitterweeds” and books by friends, lovers and mere acquaintances, and even books about Faulkner’s friends and family. But none of these gets the reader quite as close to what feels like the real thing as Ms. Wells and it is due to her combination of honesty and artful prose.
Given Ms. Wells’ candor about her own life in this book, her insight into the lives of others has great verity. Readers get a credible glimpse of the lives of Jill, Vicki and Cho Cho; of Ms. Wells’ mother, father and stepfather; of other family members, friends and, indeed, Faulkner’s lovers; and, of course, of Pappy. Because what Ms. Wells wrote was so well crafted and fascinating, in one sense readers do not really care who these people are, or whether they were famous or important.
“Every Day by the Sun” provides a beautiful rendition of a girl’s coming of age among an unusual family, and is highly entertaining and interesting, a must for Faulknerphiles, all southerners and for readers everywhere who enjoy fine books.
Published in The Messenger 3.29.12