|William Faulkner and Billie Holiday|
William Wallace Tabbot on facebook:
Interesting that Faulkner came up in your post, Marly... William Cuthbert Faulkner is a distant cousin of yours and mine...
I’ll have to look it up to be more precise but our maternal 5th great grandfather, Col. Thomas Word, was the brother of Faulkner’s 3rd great grandfather, Charles Word Jr, who was killed at the Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain, 7 October 1780...
I consulted my family tree and William Cuthbert Faulkner is your and my 5th cousin twice removed...Here are a few thoughts about that tenuous connection in my maternal line.
I was obsessed with Faulkner in high school and read everything by him in the Western Carolina University library, where my mother worked. Way back then, I had a stack of Faulkner paperbacks. I kept reading him off and on in college as well. So if I had to unearth a literary cousin, that's a highly appropriate choice.
Later on, I took a seminar from the Faulkner scholar, Cleanth Brooks. All I can remember is that he made us analyze the timeline of Soldier's Pay (it is definitely a first novel and not all that tidily constructed, time-wise.) The assignment fired something in the future novelist-moi because I did a bang-up job (also known as a weird, obsessive, overly finicky-and-detailed job.) Mr. Brooks asked me if he could keep a copy, so I suppose he did.
When I think about Faulkner now, I also am led to recall my father. A poor sharecropper's child in Depression-era Georgia who ran off to war at 17 (flying missions as a tail-gunner in a B-17) and who afterward attended Emory and LSU and became a Professor of Analytical Chemistry, he disliked Faulkner's work. My father felt anguished and angered by Faulkner's portrayal of poor people, white and black, in the deep South. I've long felt that my father's own story arc is strange and often tragic, a great adventure with a brilliant protagonist who had trouble fitting in to institutions and bending to the will of others. And there were so many enticing lacunae, so many difficult passages in his life that I knew little about... Well, gaps and imaginings are why I wrote A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. He might not have liked that one either!