I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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A note from Faulkner’s Sanctuary, and recent reading

William Faulkner famously wrote Sanctuary and used the advance to buy the house in which he moved with his just-married wife Estelle, who had been divorced from her first husband.

Here’s how he has one of his characters describe marrying someone who’d been previously married:

When you marry your own wife, you start off from scratch… maybe scratching.  When you marry sone else’s wife, you start off maybe ten years behind, behind somebody else’s scratch and scratching.

I’m re-reading this book for the first time since undergraduate school, curious about what will confim my sense that Faulkner’s relationship with Estelle was a major driving factor in this book.

I’ve been posting brief bulletins from my reading lately, rather than the longer responses I posted last year.  I’ve still got longer responses in mind to several from the last couple of months, particularly from the two books of the Robert Caro biography I read in April and early May. In addition to those, I’ve read Michael Hastings’ The Operators, which I highly recommend to anyone wanting to depress themselves with greater understanding of the “war on terror” as carried on during the Obama years (on a recommendation by George Cochran), the recent biography of Craig Claiborne by Thomas McNamee, which has a great first half but sort of fades thereafter, possibly like Claiborne’s own life, and Benjamin Wise’s biography of William Alexander Percy, which I found very frustrating.

Caro’s books are filled with bookmarks that I think bear discussion.  The Percy bio is filled with bookmarks where I think Wise goes off in directions that raise lots of questions in my mind.  Just for starters, is it really accurate to present Percy as a man who reflected the racist mores of his time and place, when at one point in the 1930s he had Langston Hughes as a houseguest? That was not standard Mississippi attitudes of the 1930s, and on this and other matters, Wise spends much time imposing present-day views on actions 80 and more years ago, without a second thought.

If I don’t get around to further comment:  Read the Caro books.  Read The Operators.  If you care about the history of food in America, read the Claiborne book.  The Percy book is probably dispensable.

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