JE: D.R. “Duke” Haney’s Banned for Life is a great sprawling coming-of-age, with all the pitch and velocity of a punk rock adolescence. Banned is also, along with Hesh Kestin’s The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats, the most “lived in” novel I read last year, and one of the most under-read, in my estimation. Here’s Duke on the books he first fell in love with:

My family has been in Virginia since the seventeenth century, and many in my line were farmers, including my grandparents on both sides. I was especially close to my maternal grandparents, and spent a lot of time on their dairy farm, which my grandfather designated Grand View after the land and the house on it were passed to him by his mother, Della, whose mean streak was legendarily Medusa-like. The mean streak was not unjustified. Della’s husband, Hugh, was a circuit rider—that is, a traveling preacher who spread the Gospel on horseback—whose later, untreatable madness may have been triggered by the sudden death of their young daughter, Sara. Another shock was the murder, by a jealous ex, of my beloved Great-Aunt Nicie’s intended as he left the house one night.

The house, which sits at the crest of a hill that does indeed afford a grand view, already had a painful history. It was built in the 1830s by slaves owned by the prosaically-named Cowherd family (Della and Hugh acquired the property at the turn of the twentieth century), and during the Civil War, there was a skirmish between Yanks and Rebs at the foot of the hill, with part of the house razed by cannonfire. My Great-Great-Uncle Billy, uninvolved in that fight, was an officer in the Confederate Army, and buried in uniform, as per his request on his old-age deathbed. He strongly resembled Robert E. Lee in the only photo I saw of him: white-bearded and stately atop a white steed, his riding coat looking Confederate gray in the sepia-toned photo.

This is all to say that family lore uniquely prepared me for the novels of William Faulkner, with Grand View filling in for many of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County settings. There was, for instance, a gray-wood shack next to the chicken yard, where I pictured Joanna Burden of Light in August living as a pariah. There was a smokehouse, sweetly smelling of sultry ham, in the back yard, where I pictured Ringo and Bayard of The Unvanquished playing war. As for the late-night fight of Absalom, Absalom!, I transposed that to my grandfather’s former horse stable—“former” because he renounced horses after he was forced to put down an injured favorite. Of all of Faulkner’s books, Absalom, Absalom! has for me special resonance, since I read it at Grand View during a summer retreat from New York. Then, too, it solidified my love of paragraph-long sentences and pages-long paragraphs.

But my love for Faulkner began with our introduction, The Sound and The Fury, which he wrote under the influence of Joyce, and so fused stream-of-consciousness modernism with Hawthornian Gothic. It was, I think, the most ambitious novel I’d read to date (I was twenty), and I naturally saw it taking place at Grand View, with Caddy Compson, whose soiled underpants so jolted her three damaged brothers, climbing the mimosa tree that, as a child, I used to climb.

Faulkner spent his final years as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia, and his grandsons owned a bar in my hometown. Once, when I was at the bar with my father, the owners both appeared, one of them a dead ringer for Faulkner in his thirties, and I had an impulse to walk up to him and say, “I am your grandfather’s heir.” I was working on a novel at the time, and later, after I junked it, I wondered at the weird urge to announce myself as Faulkner’s heir—to his grandson, no less. It was youthful hubris, of course, but still, I’d never been so sure of myself, and now it seemed I’d never start another novel, having been so battered by the one abandoned.

I was wrong. I did start, as well as finish, another novel, though the subject matter—punk rock—proves, as if proof were necessary, that I’m not Faulkner’s heir. But it was a grand illusion for the second it lasted.

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3G1B is the collaboration of four friends and colleagues in the book business. Together, they review books and stories, interview authors, and maintain an ongoing conversation about publishing, bookselling, writing, pr, and nearly anything else.

JONATHAN EVISON is the author of All About Lulu and West of Here and TNB's Executive Editor. He likes rabbits. He also likes being the ambiguous fourth guy in the “Three Guys” triumvirate. He is the founder of the secret society, The Fiction Files (if he told, he’d have to kill you). He has a website, but it’s old. Just google him.

DENNIS HARITOU has bought books for Barnes and Noble for seven years, for warehouse clubs for five, and has led a book club. He is currently Director of Merchandise at Bookazine.

JASON CHAMBERS has been in the book business for over fifteen years, including tenures as General Manager/Buyer at Book Peddlers in Athens, GA, and seven years as a Buyer and Merchandise Manager at Bookazine. He now works as an bookstore consultant and occasional web designer.

JASON RICE has worked in the book business for ten years at Random House in sales and marketing and Barnes & Noble as a community relations manager. Currently he is an Assistant Sales Manager and Buyer at Bookazine. His fiction has appeared in several literary magazines online and in print. He was once the pseudonymous book reviewer Frank Bascombe for Ain’t It Cool News. He’s taught photography to American students in the South of France, worked as a bicycle messenger in New York City, and for a long time worked very hard in the film & television business in NYC. Production experience includes the television shows Pete & Pete, Can We Shop ( Joan Rivers' old shopping show), and the films The Pallbearer, Flirting With Disaster, and countless commercials---even a Christina Applegate movie that went straight to video.

168 responses to “When We Fell In Love – D.R. Haney”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    I loved this little glimpse into your family history. I love the names too – Della and Nicie.
    Now I would like to know more. Especially about the smokehouse sweetly smelling of sultry ham (great line, D) and the story behind your grandfather renouncing horses. Did he have to put the favourite down himself? More please…..

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Z, and for your keen eye in spotting this piece.

      My family is really a subject for a book unto itself, as any family would be, so I’ve never been able to figure out how to write about it in a TNB post, until now, in greatly abbreviated form.

      Anyway: the smokehouse was originally the wellhouse, and there were decaying boards that covered the well. I was always afraid they would give way when I walked over them. Also, there was a huge bell that was attached to the smokehouse, and my grandmother would step outside and ring it to alert my grandfather and uncles, who were off working in the fields, when meals were ready.

      As for the horse, yes, my grandfather shot it. This happened before I was born, but apparently he was fairly inconsolable. But there was nothing that could be done. Horses have always been bad luck in my family. One of my uncles was killed when a horse he was riding was spooked for some reason and threw him off. My paternal great-grandfather was killed under similar circumstances.

      I always thought Nicie was a nickname, but I called my mom when I was working on this piece, and she said no, Nicie was my aunt’s given name. She never, ever spoke of the murder of her beau. It was all very hush-hush, but my grandfather let it slip at some point. And now, here it is, on the Internet, where it will be read by maybe three strangers.

      Do you have mimosa trees in NZ?

      • Zara Potts says:

        I just sent you something interesting on Facebook… but it wasn’t a mimosa tree.
        I’m not sure if we do have those trees. I like trees but I never know what they are called.
        I remember you saying that about horses being bad luck in your family. I love them but am utterly terrified of them. I was thrown from a horse when I was young and it spooked me badly. Having said that, when Simon came to NZ last November – we went horse riding on the beach and it was fantastic. I was scared the whole time but in awe of the grace and beauty of the animal.
        I love the image of your grandmother ringing the bell outside the smokehouse to call the family in. It seems so quintessentially American to me…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Mimosa trees have distinct, sweet-smelling blossoms:

          http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/North_America/United_States/South/North_Carolina/Raleigh/photo907271.htm

          More when I return from an errand, sick though I am.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh yes we have those!
          Come back soon and wear a scarf so your cold doesn’t get any worse…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Alas, I left without a scarf. Oh, the sacrifices we make when we’re sending packages of the CD sort to TNBers.

          I’m sure I’ve mentioned the horse that ran off with me in the saddle, yes? If my dad hadn’t jumped in front of the damned thing, I might be dead. We were headed straight for a wood, and at the very least I’d have been striped from head to toe with wounds. I haven’t ridden a horse since.

          I agree that it’s a quintessentially American image, my grandmother ringing the bell for dinner. The string ran from the steeple on the smokehouse to the back porch. I always felt privileged when I was given the nod to pull that string. Children, like dogs, like to feel useful, you know.

        • sheree says:

          I was five the first time I was placed upon the back of my very own gentle broke mare. A stranger on a white horse passing by the trail in the woods, spooked my beautiful chestnut mare and away she went with me on her back through green thickets of trees. Two hours later i was found by my family, still on the mares back with a death grip on the saddle horn. I remember wrapping the reins around the saddle horn and grabbing it for all i was worth. I hunkered down low and rode it out as I had been instructed to do in case of emergency.

          And I have a scarf for you that I made with my own two hands. Surely you have a P.O Box for such an occasion. If not then it’s off to the charity stack to raise money to feed the homeless. I named the scarf “The Haney” Irwin has one called “The Zara” that I sent him end of last year. I think I made him four scarves with the promise of one that would make Doctor Who take notice.

          And this was a great read. I could read about family historys for days. I do a lot of DNA research on bloodlines and have learned 2000 years of my personal blood history thru Genographic study over the last 10 years. Interesting stuff.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m much obliged, Sheree. I have now forwarded you a P.O. box, or the equivalent thereof, so that I may receive The Haney, which I will wear with pride. I wish I could make Doctor Who take notice, but Doctor Who doesn’t reside in the U.S., as you know. However, I once ate a late-night dinner in a restaurant where a member of The Who was also eating, and I suppose it’s conceivable that I could find myself eating near a member of The Who again, and maybe that person will take notice of The Haney. Certainly, there are any number of way-underground musicians who’ll take notice, since I know so many of them.

          I’m glad you liked the piece. I think it’s hard to interest people in the opinions of unknown novelists about legends like Faulkner. I mean, what’s there to say, you know? Guy was great. Anybody could say that. So I really tried to find a way to make the piece of interest, and it’s reassuring that it did well by you.

          If I had time, I would research my own bloodline, but I’m afraid I’d get too consumed if I started, so I don’t.

        • Zara Potts says:

          The Zara??? Wow!

        • sheree says:

          Make irwin post a shot of his “Zara Scarf” The young gent owes me a photo, but anywhoo, Zara, shall I pull some wool stiches for you as well? I make the best reading poncho in all the world. I made one for my distant cousin Mary who lives in Torrington England and she lives in hers around the house. I also make reading scarves with nice large pockets for holding spare bottles of beer and maybe a book. The posting fee to your country will require knee pads on my part, but hey what the hell, I owe you big time for all your wonderful stories posted on this site! Cheers dearie!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Irwin is apparently AWOL, though I’ll see what happens if I attempt to summon him, as Simon can Uche simply by uttering his name. And I happen to know that the postage to NZ isn’t as egregious as you might fear, and winter will arrive in a few months Down Under, so, allowing time for the composition of its contents, the package should arrive propitiously.

        • Zara Potts says:

          oH MY GOD I WOULD LOVE A SCARF!!!

        • Gloria says:

          Mimosa trees are one of my favorites. Their flowers are beautiful and their leaves are special and unique. Reminds me of the desert.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          They’re African in origin, I recently learned, which makes sense.

  2. Greg Olear says:

    As I wrote on the other comment board, this is great, and it makes me want to rev-visit Faulkner, whose stuff I’ve barely read. The Sound and the Fury should be my next read, since I’m on a Joyce kick right now.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Oh, so you’re GMO! I hadn’t realized, but in retrospect, it’s completely obvious. And I left a note on your piece at the other board, not knowing we were swapping comments. I blame my cold.

      Will your Joyce kick include works other than Ulysses? But if you do switch to Faulkner, you might inspire me to do likewise. I’ve been wanting to reread him ever since I wrote this thing.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Ulysses is quite enough! I never got into the short stories or Portrait, and Finnegan’s Wake is not readable. But I do plan an essay on the big U. At some point. Far, far in the future. Sometimes when I’m writing something I sort of glom on to a book and it helps me, even if it isn’t obvious. So it is with U.

        I’ve read but one Faulkner book. The one with Joe Christmas. The title escapes me.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Light in August. A masterpiece, I think; but then, he wrote so many. Do you remember Joanna Burden, the abolitionist woman he ends up killing? I refer to her in the piece.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Yes, she was really nice to him. I can see how that house is like your family’s homestead, absolutely.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Interestingly, the covers that JC incorporated into the piece (aside from the cover of BFL) both feature old, apparently Southern houses. But maybe old houses are featured on the covers of most recent editions of Faulkner. I obviously haven’t checked.

          You don’t think Faulkner overdid it with the symbolism on Joanna Burden‘s name, do you?

  3. Hiya D.,

    Is the farm still there? They still live there, no? Is the bell still there? Sounds pretty dreamy.
    I want to go there.

    I love all of the history and that the history shaped what you ended up reading.
    I love that you love “paragraph-long sentences and pages-long paragraphs”.
    I like that quality in Banned For Life along with other qualities, like your liberal use of the exclamation point.

    And Nicie is a great name – love that. Is there french in your lineage? I think no, but, maybe?
    And interesting about the Robert E. Lee reference – isn’t the character in From Here To EternityRobert E. Lee Prewitt? Hmmm – symmetry here.

    Echoing Zara – more please!

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Hey, Steph:

      The farm is still there, but it’s changed considerably since my grandparents died. Cousins took over, and I don’t at all feel welcome — a sentiment shared by other relatives.

      If I had a scanner, I would upload photos of the place. It’s sacred ground to me — the only home I’ve ever truly recognized as such.

      You’re right about Prewitt — I’d forgotten about that. And, no, no French in my linage, which is a shame, since, unlike most Americans, I love the French. But, hey, come to think of it, all Englishmen are probably partly French due to the Norman conquest, so in that way — yes, I can somewhat count myself French.

      I’m glad that you say what you do about the exclamation points. I’ve really been having a lot of doubt about that of late. But, you know, doesn’t punk rock call for exclamation points? So my thinking went.

      • Never doubt the exclamation points – please don’t. It pains me to think you doubt them.
        No! No! No! It’s all part of Jason’s voice. And yes, very punk rock – and also the character and the book. Those exclamation points have continued to fuel my inspiration – I’ve done a couple punk rock things (as of late) directly inspired by your book and the exclamation points. If you doubt them, then I’m going to have to doubt my punk rock doings. So, don’t.

        And I love the French too, for many reasons – I’m half French (my St. John side) – so go ahead, you probably are part French.

        !

        • oh and I’m sorry about the farm – that sucks.
          I can tell you feel that to be your home.

          And also, sorry about your loss of hearing in one ear.
          That happened to my dad recently from a cold – he took some homeopathic remedy and got it all back.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I don’t think the loss of hearing will persist, fortunately. It will pass when some of the liquid in my present swamp of a brain has been drained.

          Thanks for what you say about the farm. One of my aunts, who grew up there, visited a few years ago, and she said she wanted to leave almost as soon as she arrived, she was so heartbroken over its present condition. But I could conceivably get into trouble for writing such things.

          As for the exclamation points, I hereby banish doubt. Oh, and I’d meant to say earlier that I appreciate your remarks about the long paragraphs and sentences. Reading long sentences and paragraphs in Faulkner was, for me, like diving into the deep end of a brilliant pool of language, and I always wanted to create such an experience for others, if it were within my means to do so. Yet the current fashion calls for the opposite. I’ve had others edit my work so as to break up paragraphs, apparently in the belief that brevity doesn’t intimidate. Size finally matters, I suppose.

          Rock on with your punk-rock self.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Part of the mark of a good writer, seems to me, is to be able to fashion those long, long sentences. I was taught to have contrasts: one super-long sentence followed by a really short one. I was taught this in elementary school. I don’t even know who told me that. But I do it all the time. Funny, the things you learn and how you learn them.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          You obviously attended a far better elementary school than did I. Anyway, I agree with your teacher that it’s good form to follow a long sentence with a short one, or in any case to strategically vary sentence length. Also, I agree with you that it’s the mark of a good writer to be able to fashion long, long sentences; but I’ve also come to decide, after recently doing transcription work for the first time, that people speak in long, long sentences, or something approaching sentences, which helped to retroactively explain to me why I always wanted to write that way.

  4. Ben Loory says:

    “But my love for Faulkner began with our introduction, The Sound and The Fury, which he wrote under the influence of Joyce, and so fused stream-of-consciousness modernism with Hawthornian Gothic.”

    i never thought of it that way. i mean it’s obvious but i never saw it. not saying that your thoughts are obvious. you know what i’m saying. i’m an idiot. pretty much what i’m always saying.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      But my thoughts are obvious, Ben. I wish I could be all original and stuff. In fact, you strike me as being very original, despite your usual insistence that you’re an idiot, which we both know to be false.

      • Ben Loory says:

        what we need is a way to parlay our mutual respect into some kind of large mound of cash. did you ever find out what that kirk douglas movie was?

        it is very windy right now.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          The wind is fantastic, yes. Just returned from the post office. I love this kind of weather, even though it’s bad for my cold.

          I plumb forgot about that Kirk Douglas movie. I’ll have a look in a minute, if the phone doesn’t ring. I think I may be getting a call any second now.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Okay, Ben, here’s the data on the Kirk Douglas movie:

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056625/

          That was Cyd Charisse who was acting like such a freak in the car. I didn’t recognize her. I’ve never seen her play a drunk ho before.

        • Ben Loory says:

          i was never aware that cyd charisse had a face. i always thought she was just legs.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          In the same way that Anita Ekberg was just mammaries? (It only now occurs to me that there’s a Rome connection here. That ole subconscious, it just never stops a-workin’.)

    • Greg Olear says:

      That is a good line. Duke, I hope this augurs a “think piece” from you. And you too, Ben, for that matter. We should have “think piece week” or something.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        That’s a good idea, GMO. I might never write such a piece without a gun to my head. All assignment writing amounts to a gun to the head, as per the thousand-word pieces. Yes, maybe we can use another collective assignment.

  5. Jude says:

    I love your ‘youthful hubris’, which I think you’ve mentioned before. I wonder what Faulkner’s grandson’s reaction would have been if you had announced yourself as his ‘grandfather’s heir’.

    What a great picture you paint of your family history – and now I’m curious to see a photo of the house “which sits at the crest of a hill that does indeed afford a grand view”.

    Like the others – more please…

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Have I mentioned my youthful hubris before? Such is my doddering state that I don’t recall. And I reckon that Faulkner’s grandson would’ve thought me a nut. He wouldn’t be the first.

      As I said to Steph, I wish I could upload a photo — or photos — of the house. I do have a few, including one of the swing on the front porch where I read Absalom, Absalom! Also, here on my wall, are two photos of the place.

      My kingdom for a scanner. Not that, you know, I really have a kingdom.

  6. Jude says:

    Oh, and Duke, I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling under the weather. Sending lots of healing to you.

  7. D.R. Haney says:

    A belated shout-out to Jonathan Evison for the kind words in the intro. But I did thank you at the other site, JE.

  8. Quenby Moone says:

    Sound and the Fury was my first introduction to “Literature,” capital L, and I was mesmerized. It was cryptic and rich and strange, defied all literary constructs. It took place in a world a million miles from mine, a yuppie, California nature-bunny informed culture, so it did not take place on my family property in my mind’s eye. But I did aspire, completely unfortunately, to reach Quentin-ian (female, not male) heights of pissing everyone off. I wanted to be Caddy, and Quentin, and I loved Benjy and wished I could take care of him.

    I was so amazed at Benjy’s description of being drunk that I could hardly believe that the English language had been able to create shape for the thoughts in Faulkner’s head. I have the same copy I read in high school, dog eared and torn, and am amazed that I had the fortitude to take it on. I had the luxury of a teacher who worshipped the book and he helped us struggle through it section by section. It was a great gift.

    I don’t have the time to take things like The Sound and the Fury on as a project anymore, which is a great loss, but I pick it up every now and then to refresh my memory as to the wonders of language and the mystery of Faulkner’s dream.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      If only I’d had a high-school teacher who’d assigned and guided me through The Sound and the Fury! However, I did have a teacher who assigned Flannery O’Connor (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”) and Eudora Welty (“Why I Live at the P.O.”), and that was a fair introduction to Southern literature. O’Connor remains one of my favorite writers, but, as great as she is–and she truly is great–Faulkner is the king.

      I love that you loved Quentin II. And I always thought Caddy must be, like, the hottest chick in Mississippi. She would’ve had to have been to have undone the Compson dynasty, albeit gradually and unwittingly, don’t you think?

      Meanwhile, I believe your comment may have bettered my piece, QB. Thanks for finding it, hidden as it somewhat is, and taking the time to read and make such a beautiful case for Faulkner. I know a number of people who can’t stand him.

      • Quenby Moone says:

        Eh, Flannery O’Connor is no slouch, so the teacher did you in good stead. I mean, it’s not Jason, prick of all pricks opening with, “Once a bitch, always a bitch,” but they can’t all start that way!

        Caddy was totally the hottest chick ever. To tear a swath through a family like that, she had to be. That kind of reckless destruction doesn’t just grow on trees, you know! Not perhaps the best role model, but then–I never did aspire to keep things nice and quiet. And Quentin II was going to be a disaster no matter how the cards fell; the bastard daughter named after a suicide? Lord.

        Now I feel like I have to read it again, but I don’t have time! NEVER ENOUGH TIME!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, here I go, about to mention my own novel again, but it’s narrated by a Jason, and it opens with: “It all began with a fuck.” Maybe I was unconsciously trying to outdo Jason Compson when those words came to me.

          And now for a word from the Obvious Department: that is a joke about Caddy and trees, yes? (“She smells like trees!”) I’m still a bit afflicted, as relatives used to say of the mentally handicapped in Virginia, due to a cold. I’m also afflicted by a lack of time, like you, and yet–and yet–here I am at TNB, when I have no right to be. This site is the devil!

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Ha! I wasn’t referring to Benjy and his description of Caddy; maybe we’re all emulating Faulkner ALL THE TIME without even knowing it! Good grief, that makes me die a little inside. It’s too much damned pressure.

          I love the symmetry between your opening and Jason’s opening–the world and our brain works in mysterious ways (talk about your bland aphorisms–Faulkner would be embarrassed to be discussed in such a context with such boring allusions. I’m ashamed of myself).

          But you have caught the tone just right, and now I have to go read your book, too! Which, you know, I will find the time to do. Even though I’m here, with you, dinking off and not getting anything meaningful done. Crap.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, feel no pressure, QB, to live up to Faulkner’s high standards or to read my book, which I can assure you does not live up to Faulkner’s high standards. Just continue with not getting anything meaningful done, and rest assured (oh hackneyed phrase!) that I’m not getting it done either, if that helps to remove any sting. Because stings don’t feel good. And that’s as deep as I, who am afflicted, can reach.

  9. Matt says:

    Great meditation on Faulkner, Duke. And what a wonderful insight into your family. Your sounds like the kind of relations I wish I was descended from, people with a real sense of their history, rather than the loose collection of need-driven miscreants I’ve found myself tethered to.

    I must confess that I’m never really read much Faulkner. Much as with Hemingway, I tend to prefer his short stories to his novels. Though that may have something to do with the fact that the only times I’ve read his novels has been for a class, which might have been the wrong venue now that I think about. The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying are likely not works to be read while under a deadline; I think the prose of both lends itself to a slower, more languid approach.

    Your conclusion makes me wonder what Faulkner would have thought of punk rock.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I can’t imagine him liking it, but it’s wonderful to imagine him being forced to endure thirty seconds of it and saying in his Foghorn Leghorn voice: “I say–I say–I say, turn that racket down, boah!”

      We’re polar opposites when it comes to Faulkner: I’ve never read any of the stories, including A Rose for Emily. But I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who preferred Hemingway’s novels to his stories, which were clearly his best work.

      As for my family, I’m afraid it’s somewhat lost its sense of history in recent years. When I was a kid, my mother’s side of the family, in spite of the usual squabbles, was very tight. But the bonds began to loosen after my grandmother died, and the younger generation doesn’t relish stories about what this great-great aunt or uncle did, following the general trend, at least in America. In Serbia — Jesus, they talk about events from 500 years ago as if they occurred last week. Even kids talk that way. But Serbs are finally a tribe, unlike Americans, where the bond (what bond now exists) is more an idea.

      • Matt says:

        Have you ever seen the Cohen brothers’ film Barton Fink? John Mahoney plays a very, very close pastiche of Faulker (with just a dash of F. Scott Fitzgerald thrown in) – and the physical resemblance is uncanny. He’s what I imagine every time I think of Faulkner doing anything.

        I’ve found that, for me, Hemingway’s prose is most effective in short bursts. But after more than 80 pages or so, I find that it starts to grate on me.

        Interesting about Serbia. And I’m sorry about the drift among your clade. I would have to say that I’ve been raised by a generation of people who made an active decision to ignore the history of the generation before them. I know that my maternal grandfather was in the Navy and worked for NASA a bit, and that my grandmother was one of those 50s-era housewives who sat around with the women up the street, playing bridge, sipping martinis and generally resenting the lot life had dealt them. And that’s about it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, John Mahoney is hilarious in Barton Fink, especially when he signs his massive tome with the very Faulkneresque title of Nebuchadnezzar and carelessly, drunkenly slams it on the table. Also, when he’s heard to exclaim “Where’s my honey?” again and again to his mistress, who’s obviously based on Faulkner’s real-life Hollywood mistress, Meta Carpenter.

          Have you ever read about the spat between Faulkner and Hemingway? That’s pretty funny also. It started when Faulkner said that Hemingway lacked courage as a writer. Then Hemingway had a general fire off a letter to Faulkner in which testimony was given that Hemingway was very courageous. I think Hemingway was also miffed that the director Howard Hawks had told him to his face that he considered Faulkner a superior writer, as I believe Hemingway privately (and, in my view, rightly) acknowledged.

          Your martini-sipping grandmother sounds like she was suffering from what Betty Friedan famously termed the feminine mystique. Your other grandmother sounds like she was slightly ahead of her time. But maybe not, in light of Rosie the Riveter. American women seem to have enjoyed the work they did during WWII, which is what led to their ennui in the domesticated fifties. Hence the feminine mystique. But I digress, as usual.

        • Matt says:

          Mahoney has some of the best lines in that film. My particular favorite: “Mah olfactory’s turning womanish, lying and decietful.”

          Wow, that Hemingway/Faulkner feud sounds almost like a vaudeville routine. I’m in agreement with you and Hawks: Faulker was the superior writer. Not that I’ve read either widely.

          Hemingway has always been reduced, in my opinion (rightly or wrongly) because he always struck me as very concerned with the mystique of being Earnest Hemingway. I was very familiar with the idea of Hemingway as an icon – the ex-soldier, the adventurer, the man’s man who went on safari in Africa and shot things -before I ever cracked the spine on one of his books; and it’s vvery difficult to avoid reading that into some of his stories. Granted, this is true of many writers, but I find it particularly grating when the work is sublimated to generating the personality, rather than the other way around.

          Feminine mystique or not, it would be more accurate to say that my grandmother guzzled martinis rather than sip them. In my three decades of living I can’t think of one time where I’ve ever seen her fully sober. Also, it’s probably the cold medicine, but you misread: t’was my grandfather who worked for USAF/NASA. I know next to nothing about my paternal grandparents, other than that they were an Italian couple, Grandpa working as an accountant and Grandma as the stereotypical Italian housewife (always cooking).

        • Greg Olear says:

          I think The Sun Also Rises holds up with anything Faulkner did, and both authors had very distinct voices, which, in my view, is paramount. But they’re very different; it’s almost silly to compare them, or for them to feud. Like A-Rod and Kobe arguing who’s the better athlete. At that level, it’s all about personal connection and taste, rather than quality.

          We never read Faulkner in school, but we never were assigned Hemingway, either — he had fallen into disfavor in the 1980s — which is probably what attracted me to him.

        • Matt says:

          And that’s one of Hemingway’s novels that I’ve never read. It’s been on my “Well, been meaning to get around to that” list for a while.

          I don’t think he’s a bad writer, by any means, just not the first one I’d turn to. And I have my problems with Faulkner, as well; one can only read about batshit-crazy southerners for so long before needing to turn to something else.

        • Greg Olear says:

          It’s his best, by far. I own, like, five copies of it, and I’ve read it seven or eight times. (Which you’ll find out when my “Fell in Love” piece makes the leap from 3g1B to TNB.)

        • Matt says:

          I’ve read The Old Man and the Sea four or five times.

        • Greg – Your WWFIL piece is at TNB already. The title didn’t show for some reason. That’s no doubt due to posting slippage on my part. You can find it here:

          http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/threeguysonebook/2010/03/30196/

          I hope everyone else does as well, now that I’ve edited the error.

          In the Faulkner-Hemingway grudge match, I’m on Uncle Bill’s side.

          Coincidentally, however, I was in my local library yesterday, looking for the Consumer Reports on Kitchen Appliances, and strayed, as I am wont to do, to the fiction section. I had noted during the Oscars that somehow I had missed the Coen Brother’s film this year, and while investigating this online discovered that their next one is True Grit. So I had Portis on the brain. I went and found that, which has long eluded my reading pile. Just a few shelves away was one on Ron Rash’s early novels, so that went in the basket as well. And really, once one has gone this far, he has to browse the rest of the fiction section, doesn’t he? So I found myself holding The Sun Also Rises, which also found its way home with me. I don’t think I’ve read any Hemingway since the 80’s, so I ‘m looking forward to it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, here I am, way down here, finally about to address your comment, Matt. Errands had to be run, and so on. But it wasn’t cold medicine that caused me to misread grandfather for grandmother so much as the cold itself, as well as fatigue. Anyway, I’m embarrassed. And you’re part Italian! I always wanted to be at least a little Italian.

          I don’t pay much attention to the Hemingway myth, beyond that he lived in Paris at an enviable moment. That’s the period that most interests me, not his hunting and fishing and all that, in Cuba and Idaho and Key West.

          In terms of Faulkner versus Hemingway (and here I’m addressing Greg also), I wish I’d never kicked off that debate (if “debate” is the right word), if only because I love the work of both, and because I’m suspicious (in spite of having kicked off the “debate”!) of ranking artists in such a way.

          I suppose, though, I finally see it this way: Faulkner could more easily do what Hemingway did than the reverse, in the same way that I think the Beatles could do more easily what the Stones did than the reverse. (Exhibit A: Sgt. Pepper and Satanic Majesties.)

          I used to think that For Whom the Bell Tolls was Hemingway’s finest novel. Then a friend soured me on it by saying that it felt to him like a kind of parody, or self-parody, of Hemingway. I wanted to disagree, and still do, yet those words have continued to undermine my judgment.

          I read The Sun Also Rises when I was a teenager, and I was too young, I’m afraid, to appreciate it, even though Hemingway was only twenty-six at the time he wrote it. But the difference between eighteen and twenty-six is vast — particularly if the twenty-six-year-old has traveled and barely survived battle and socialized with the likes of Joyce and Pound. I’ve leafed through Rises here and there in the years since I read it, but I’ve never sat down and reread the damned thing. Maybe it’s time that I do, as per Jason.

          Hello again, Jason. I’ve long heard that True Grit is a fine novel. And thanks for editing the error on Greg’s WWFIL.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Thanks for the link, Jason. I thought I stumbled upon it at some point but couldn’t get back to it for some reason. 3G has been really supportive of the book, and I appreciate it.

          There’s a lot of really subtle stuff at work in The Sun Also Rises. I enjoyed it in high school, although I didn’t really understand it, and I’ve gotten more out of it with each subsequent reading. Apparently Fitzgerald helped him edit it.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I know that Fitzgerald told him to cut the first two chapters, and apparently that made for a world of difference. And any minute now, I’m going to go that link that Jason kindly supplied and reread your summary of the book.

        • That was one thing that made me stop in front of Hemingway the other day. I was probably 17 the last time I read any, and was not sophisticated enough to grasp everything within. So it’s worth it to give him a read with fresh eyes. Greg’s essay probably activated my subconscious in that regard too.

          I think I took those images from either new or old faulkner editions. On the 3g1b version of those posts, they should link to the books from which they originated.

        • Matt says:

          Duke – Well, given the lingering question of my paternity, I might not be Italian at all. Could be Spanish/Mexican. The only bit of my ancestry we know for certain is the part that’s predominantly French, with a dash of Cheyenne.

          I’m thinking I need to go back and reread my Hemingway and Faulkner now. Once I get through this stack of unread books on the coffee table….

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah, yes, the stack. I have one also, believe me.

          And Cheyenne? Talk about lineage envy! I used to tell people, as a kid, that I was part Cheyenne — a lie, of course.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, and Jason (should you see this)? Can we expect a 3G1B report on your revisiting of Hemingway? Because I’d be very curious to hear what you have to say.

        • Sure Duke. I’ll drop it in a post in a couple of days. I need to finish a couple that I’m already in the midst of first, so I can give it my full attention. But I’ll get it in a week or so.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          My eyes, they will be peeled.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Still haven’t got to The Old Man and the Sea. Not yet, anyway.

          Banned for Life, however…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          What? What about BFL? Are you trying to make me paranoid? Are you? Because you’re succeeding, bub. Oh, yes. Are you happy now?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I don’t know…

          Am I?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, I’m an easy mark.

  10. Slade Ham says:

    I’ve always wanted an estate, or a home, or just a chunk of land big enough to warrant it’s own name. The thought of a sprawling property and a house worthy of a moniker with capital letters is appealing to me, much more so than shitty apartment across the street from the strip club, or that place I used to live with the ceiling that leaked.

    Even now, in a place that I like, I still long for a Camelot or a Green Acres or a Grand View.

    I’ve never read Faulkner, not even in school. I’m really not certain why, but then again I haven’t read a lot of the things most people have read. Your story still intrigues me though. I, too, have a tendency to build imaginary worlds out of familiar blocks of memories. No matter how well an author describes a place, I somehow manage to sneak in elements of places that I’ve been before.

    • Anon says:

      In your honor, sir, I am now referring to my recreational acreage as “Hamwood”.

      • Slade Ham says:

        I am honored. Hamwood has a bit of a ring to it actually…

        • Anon says:

          If you’d prefer, we can go all spaghetti western instead and use “Slade Ridge” or something….

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Where is SS when you need him?

          Wait. I think I said the same thing only a few days ago.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I like New Slade Hampshire.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Duke – Wait, said what?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Where’s Simon? That’s what I said, or I think I did, on a different comment board recently. Sorry for the lack of clarity. I hope to regain it when the cold has passed.

        • Anon says:

          Duke – Head cold? Chest cold? Rampant sore throat and laryngitis? What ails you, friend?

          Slade – I don’t know – that all sounds so New Englandy. We’re talking a few dozen acres of rolling hills, sagebrush and pine. Grizzly, elk and moose country. In Teddy Roosevelt terms, this is more “Great White Hunter phase” rather than “New York Police Chief phase”. But I’ll defer….

        • Judy Prince says:

          Anon, maybe Duke’s got the same Swine Cold I’ve had for two months. It’s like the Guest That Never Leaves. But it’s doubtless abating; Duke’ll be Duke right soon. Funny thing about being ill and well: When you’re sick, it’s the Major Preoccupation of your life—yet you don’t even notice that you’re getting better bcuz it feels so “normal”. We’re a funny bunch of animals, nah?

          And, Anon, the C o P in NYC in the late 1800s, George Matsell, was a splendid and oft wrongly criticised man. Rodent’s done major research on him whilst following leads about criminal language for a book he’s writing, and he’s concluded that Matsell got a bad rap. Teddy Roosevelt, tho, may not be the hero we’ve thought him to be—with the exception of the national parks’ system that he seemed to’ve “put on the map” with help from photographer and activist Ansel Adams.

        • Anon says:

          Agreed on all topics. TR lost his hero’s shine for me quite some time ago. I can’t say he was any worse than most powerful men, might be willing to concede he was slightly better than some and *certainly* admit there were many admirable qualities about him… but he gets a far better following than he deserves, in my book.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I’ll read more about him, then, Anon. Every biography’s different, and sometimes the oldest are the best. Case in point, I thought I’d read every biog of Elizabeth I, but just found Elizabeth Jenkins’ “Elizabeth The Great”, and it beats all of the others; written 60 years ago. Now to get her “Jane Austen” and “Lady Mary Wortley Montagu” biogs.

          BTW, Anon, how about Slade calling his mansion “PortaPotty”?

          Time to get down to work. [sighs]

        • Anon says:

          Well, being The Great Outdoors™ and thereby lacking plumbing, I suppose that’s not entirely inaccurate a name.

          I suppose any “TD tarnish” is specific to my personal philosophies and might actually make him more admirable to others. He just seemed to suffer from basic human hypocrisy – staunchly and publicly pro-independence and “personally Darwinian” yet unafraid to use force of law (and/or arms) to “defend the little guy”. Can’t have it both ways, friend. Then again, one the first things Alexander Hamilton and George Washington did after leading a tax-inspired revolution was impose a Federal tax on alcohol, so…. [shrugs]

        • Judy Prince says:

          Well, Anon, it’s tough to know what any of us “little guys” would really do if we had such power, innit? I hafta remind m’sel’ of that when getting viciously judgmental about the “big guys”.

          I suggested “PortaPotty” bcuz I’m staring at one installed across the street last week for workers fixing the drains (!). Got a huge laff when our letter carrier parked his mail truck in front of it, got out and into the PP (!), then drove away. Why this makes me laff, I have no clue!! I’ve seen joggers go in it, too, but that didn’t make me hoot. No females have used it—maybe it’s seatless or something.

        • Anon says:

          No, it’s just that women are generally smarted about such trivial things as, um, hygiene :).

          As for power’s effect, Lord Acton hit that one out of the park, in my experience.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Judy: Sorry to hear about your swine flu. I’ve had a plain, old-fashioned cold, and to belatedly answer Anon’s question (and I thank you for asking it, Anon), it started in the head and is now in my chest. Lots of phlegm and coughing. Yes, I’m sure I could have left out the phlegm part.

          I think Porta Potty is a very funny name — maybe for a band’s van. It would certainly have fit the van of one band with which I’m familiar.

          I know practically nothing about TR, I’m embarrassed to say, but I once had an exchange with a Sioux Indian kid about Mt. Rushmore, and he said, “Yeah, and every one of those [presidents depicted on Mt. Rushmore] was an Indian killer!” Even Jefferson? But this is something I should know.

          As for the taxes imposed by Washington and Hamilton — it seems to have escaped many Americans, generally, that the U.S. was founded due to a tax rebellion. But nations are just people, who so often become the very thing they claim to hate.

        • Anon says:

          Yes, well, I come from a long line of insurrectionists and other such independent-minded criminals so I perhaps have an undue appreciation for such trivia (;. And, perhaps, a less forgiving temperament for forgetful countrymen… but I’m trying.

          Phlegm, you say? Mucinex-D has proven to be a good friend for me in such times. Especially when washed down with a single-malt chaser, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen that instruction on the label. The great thing about that combination is, even if the pill does nothing to help, the scotch makes you care less about the situation.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Duke, it was one of my pathetic attempts at humour: I had written “Swine Cold”. Hey, good one about the name “Porta Potty” fitting a band’s van you’re familiar with. hee hee

          Re our USA history, I just hope there’s never a history test I have to take in order to qualify continuing my citizenship!

          Judy a taxing rebel

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Anon, I’m only seemingly forgiving. I seethe a great deal, which can’t be good for my health, and may account for my being a favorite resort of the common-cold virus. I mean, I’m Disneyland to that fucker. But I’m a lot less phlegmy than I was yesterday, so I’ll file Mucinex-D away for future reference, thanks.

          And, Judy, I’m not surprised that I misread your joke. I’m making mistakes left and right of late, mistaking grandfather for grandmother and so on. My brain is decaying. But I suppose all brains decay, finally. And if you’re forced to take a history test to continue your citizenship, I wish the same test would be inflicted on the native-born. Americans probably know less of their own history than any people in, well, history. It’s shocking, really.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Guys, guys, what?

          Seriously?

          I’m the first person to suggest Hamelot for Slade’s palatial residence?

          Jeeze…

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I knew you would not disappoint, Sir Portmanteau.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Hamelot”, Simon??!!! Contest over!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Hey everyone! Come see how clever I am!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s long been a matter of record, as you well know.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Quite right, Duke. Actually, Simon Smithson (whose ancestor founded and funded what’s known as the Smithsonian Institute) is nothing short of an Outrageously Brilliant Wit! He is also a Leader Dude. Sorry, Duke, that
          I can’t dub you similarly; I mean how stoopid to be called “Leader Dude Duke”.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, I don’t know. Do you really like the sound of “Leader Dude Simon”?

          But is it really true that one of his ancestors founded the Smithsonian, or is that Princely conjecture?

    • D.R. Haney says:

      I’m sure this comment is going to nest weirdly, but to address your point about a place worthy of a name, Slade, rather than shitty apartment across the street from the strip club, et al, you probably know people who give their places “funny” names, yes? Guys especially seem to do this, just as they’re more apt (or so I’ve found) to name their cars (or, alas, their genitals). My friend Rit used to call his NYC apartment The Barracks, for instance; and my friend Pete used to call his place in Hollywood The Lodge.

      I don’t really judge people by what they read or they don’t — unless it’s really awful, horrible stuff like — well, no names. But it’s character that counts. And building a setting (or a character or what have you) out of one’s own bank of memories — I personally think that’s what fiction most has going for it; or, as the novelist Tom McGuane once said, “Nothing has ever supplanted the intimacy of literature.” When you assist, so to speak, the author by supplying your own idiosyncratic details to his or her descriptions, there really is a sense of intimacy about it, a sense that the world created belongs to you and the writer and no one else, and that can’t be had by watching a movie or TV show, where everything has been created for you. Yet people are so lazy that I’m afraid McGuane may have been wrong about the “supplanting” part.

      Thanks for reading, Slade. I was afraid this post was going to feel like being force-fed medicine or the like. I hope that wasn’t the case.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Hardly force-fed… I wouldn’t have finished it had felt that way. I missed the previous conversation about this I guess. I’ll wait for Simon to track it down.

        I’ve never named a place that I’ve lived, and I do long for one that I can. I have named all of my cars however – The Millennium Falcon, The Roach Egg, The Ninja Turtle.

        My first car didn’t have a name until I was hit by a drunk driver one night, and then it became The Terminator. His van ripped off the back quarter of my little ’83 Honda Accord, including the entire brake light assembly. The car still drove fine though, and I replaced the tail light with one designed for a boat trailer – a little $30 piece from an auto supply store.

        From behind, at night, you could see one very normal light one one side and one round, red light strategically nestled in a bed of mangled metal on the other. It looked just like Schwarzenegger after some battle damage.

        Regarding the point you make, I relate. I’ve always somewhat held the belief that comedy is like that in some forms. As we tell our little anecdotes, the audience tends to pull up one of their own, creating that “I know exactly what you’re talking about” sensation. I get it! Obviously not all material works that way, but there are similarities. I don’t guess I’d ever really thought of it that way.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yes, and then the audience can say, “It’s funny ’cause it’s true.” I loved the Simpsons episode where Homer says that, as if it had never been said before.

          I’ve never named a car because I’ve never owned a car that wasn’t a goddamned traitor, and traitors don’t deserve to be named. They always turn against you, cars, and often when you need them most. Heartless bastards. But The Roach Egg is an inspired name — though I’m not sure that I’d want to learn about the source of inspiration.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I know all too well the traitorous nature of cars. It’s possible that I name them to make them somehow like me more. The Roach Egg has a very uninspired story.

          When the Falcon committed vehicular suicide, I was in no financial position to replace it. I became the heir of my grandmother’s early 90’s Dodge Neon. I counted myself lucky to not be trapped on foot, but I hated that car. It looked exactly like a roach egg to me – just this little ugly, black oval. That car and I mutually despised each other.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          One day, when we’re drinking James after one of your shows, I’ll tell you about the car that hated me as much as I hated it. What a beast! The engine died the day after I bought the car as is. I’d just moved to L.A. and knew nothing about cars, since I never drove while living in NYC. Meantime, if we live long enough, even our feet tend to give out by the end.

          Man, am I regular sunbeam.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back over here. I look very much forward to that bottle of James. I’ll bring it. The 12 yr though. I’m sure the conversation would be worthy of the splurge, and it’s honestly much better than the 18.

          And yeah, you’re pretty much like talking to a rainbow.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yet, in your gravatar, you’re now reduced two just one color, not including white, black and gray. And now it’s my turn for an apology. I don’t receive notifications about comments on this board.

          I don’t suppose, should you see this, that you’re planning to perform in the L.A. area in the near future, are you? Because that bottle of James is mighty tempting.

  11. Judy Prince says:

    Yes. Nice, Slade.

  12. Judy Prince says:

    Or as in the original form, in England, without the “New”: Slade Hampshire.

  13. Simone says:

    Thanks for sharing this little insight to your family, Duke.

    I too, like Slade, wish that I had a family estate or farm to run around on and actually call by name instead of “my granny flat” which is the size of a double garage and has no garden.

    Could you describe the surrounding area for me? Were there any mountains in the background? Rivers? Places to go exploring from dusk to dawn? Man, I’d love to live in a place like that. *Sigh*

    I’m hoping to go back to the Drakensberg at the end of April for a few days. I’ve decided to go by myself on a retreat far away from the city, work and other mundane aspects of urban jungle life.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      This is when I wish I could draw a map. I hope the following description doesn’t bore you.

      The hill I mentioned isn’t a steep hill; it’s a gentle incline that leads to the front of the house, though, when I was growing up, people almost never entered or left through the doors there. Rather, they used the back door, which leads into the kitchen. There were always a lot of cats that would gather on the porch beside the back door, many of them undomesticated strays. My grandmother cooked on a wood-burning stove, so the kitchen always had a wonderful smell — not just because of the wood that was burning, but because of the food. The smokehouse I mentioned was a few feet from the bottom of the stairs that led to the kitchen door, and the stairs and the porch and the shutters on the house were all painted a deep green, while the rest of the (two-storey, four-bedroom) house was painted white. Boxwood trees surrounded it, as well as the many flowers that my grandmother planted, which bloomed at various points in the year. A few feet behind the kitchen was a gate that led to the chicken yard (and the shack where I imagined Joanna Burden of Light in August living, which in fact was used to store chicken feed), and the wood shed (where I used to split wood for my grandmother’s stove) and, beside it, a dog pen (my grandfather always kept at least one pointer for hunting).

      There was (and still is, I’m sure) a path leading from the back door to the barns: the dairy barn, where the cows were milked, and the calf barn, where newborns were housed and nursed, and the former horse stable, which had been turned into a storage space for straw and hay, as well as grain silos and other buildings used for one purpose or another. There was also a large, adjoining garden, where my grandmother grew her own vegetables, and in a corner of the garden, my grandfather kept a beehive. Almost everything eaten on the farm was fresh: honey from the beehive, milk from the dairy, vegetables from the garden, eggs from the chickens. The chickens also provided for, alas, fine roasts on Sundays; and my grandfather kept pigs, which accounted for the “sultry” ham that I mentioned hanging in the smokehouse. Plus, during the summer, we would pick blackberries, which grew all over the farm, and my grandmother would make blackberry jelly.

      Beyond the barns and the garden, the back of the house was surrounded by woods; but the front of the house provided the grand view that gave the farm its name. Off in the distance, you could see gently sloping mountains — so small that I’m not sure that they really qualify as mountains so much as hills — and the fields that lay between. There were also two ponds. The smaller of the two was called just that, a pond, while the larger, which was further away, was referred to as “the lake.” The cows roamed the fields — Jersey cows, which are light brown, like deer — and twice a day, at milking time, they’d eagerly assemble and march en masse to the dairy barn, since milking time was also feeding time. During the summer, if it wasn’t raining enough, my grandfather and uncles would assemble irrigation pipes, and when you looked out, you’d see rotating white mists spraying the fields.

      It’s frankly breaking my heart a little to write all this; and I could go on and on and on, but I won’t, if only because, again, I’m afraid I’m boring you. I don’t blame you for wanting to retreat from the city. I wish I could. Right this second. And I know exactly where I’d go — if only I could go there again.

  14. Simone says:

    Boring? Never!!! I’d like to read more. I got this heavy feeling in my heart, not a pain as such but a deep longing to be there. You describe Grand View so vividly and with so much love and enjoyment.

    I have goosebumps. I could alomst smell your grandmother’s cooking in my imagination.

    Beautiful, just beautiful. Thank you, Duke, for letting me escape into a grandiose little world for just a few minutes of my mundane life.

    You certainly have a way with words. Thank you, again.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Richard Cox recently wrote at TNB about wishing, as a child, to have magical powers, and I wish I had them now. If I did, Simone, I would snap my fingers and transport us both to Grand View — but Grand View as it was when my grandparents were alive. It was so wonderful. Fortunately, as a child, I always knew it was wonderful. It isn’t as if I’ve changed my mind about it in retrospect. I feel tremendously privileged to have known a world like that one, while at the same time to have lived in New York and L.A., among other large cities, since most people are intimate with one and not the other.

      I’m thankful that you asked me to elaborate. It allowed me to escape for just a few minutes from my mundane life, though you realize, of course, that no life is truly mundane — it’s only thinking that makes it so.

      • Simone says:

        I shall have to read Richard’s post. Magical powers and wishes, how grand. I’d love to be transported back there to that time and place, as long as you’re there to give a full tour, of course?

        I remember my mother (or my step-dad, or both) saying to me, on occasion, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and feel which one is heavier.” In indirect way of telling me not to indulge in vain wishes and expectaions.

        New York and L.A. are among the many places I’d like to visit, or live in, if the opportunity presented itself.

        My job at the moment is very mundane, and cabin fever is making itself a little more comfortable than I’d like. I’m in the process of researching jobs abroad. I’d like to take a gap year to see what’s out there. There’s a South African band called Dear Reader, formerly Harris Tweed, they have a song called Beautiful Mystery. These lyrics are my favourite from that song: “there’s so much more to explore, when you don’t know what you’re looking for.”

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Even without being able to transport us via magic, I’ll be your tour guide.

          The saying by your mother or stepfather or both is bracing. Good lord! Yet there’s undeniable wisdom in it.

          NYC isn’t what it was, and LA is slightly better than it was, but that isn’t saying much. But they’re certainly worth a visit. And, by all means, continue to search jobs abroad. I’m doing the same, incidentally, suffering as I am from cabin fever of my own, among other illnesses.

          Here’s a link to Richard’s piece:

          http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/rcox/2010/02/a-million-lights-are-dancing-and-there-you-are-a-shooting-star/

          It’s a sweet read.

        • Simone says:

          A sweet read indeed! Man, that brought back some memories for me. I still believe in magic, although not of the abracadabra kind. I’m more into superstitions, tarot / oracle cards, psychic readings etc.

          Yes, there certainly is some wisdom in that saying. It’s one that’s stuck with me for years.

          Fingers crossed that I actually find a job that I’d like. I’m looking at maybe doing a summer camp gig in the USA or a cruise ship job. Heh! Talk about cabin fever. Ha ha!

          If I’m ever in L.A, I’d be sure to look you up for that tour.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’ve thought about applying for a job on a cruise ship. I also, as a kid, used to think of joining the merchant marine. A girl in every port; that kind of thing. I didn’t, however.

          About Richard’s piece: I particularly liked the bit where he waited up for Santa. That would make a good short film, I think. And, as you may or may not know, we have a couple of tarot-card enthusiasts here at TNB, but my efforts to summon the one with the initials S.S. have failed. The other one, with the initials Z.P., often seems to know she’s being summoned without need of a shout. Let’s see if it happens this time.

        • Simone says:

          I’m quite keen to travel via ship, although having a boy in every port doesn’t seem to appeal all that much.

          Yeah, that’s my favourite part too.

          I do know that S.S. dabbles a bit with the “tarocchi”, but Z.P… mmm? That’s new to me.
          I have 3 decks of oracle cards – Angels, Goddesses and Animal Spirit Guides, these are fairly easy to read. I’ve borrowed my sister’s tarot deck in the hopes that i can figure out how to read them, they seem to be a little more tricky for me.

          Have you ever had your cards read? Or have you been to a psychic before?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          You know, I never have been. Which is strange, because it’s something I’ve thought about doing. I know a guy who regularly sees a psychic, and she sounds like a good one, but this guy and I haven’t spoken in a while, and I think the psychic is expensive to boot.

          As for having my cards read, S.S. and Z.P. did a reading for me in absentia, and S.S. reported the results, which were interesting. I never did thank him for that report, so if S.S. ever sees this: thanks.

          Of course S.S. and Z.P. both know that a reading is best done with the subject present, but it was impossible for me to make it to Australia, unfortunately. Though Australia — and NZ — is, and has been for a while, at the top of my international-travel list.

        • Simone says:

          You should go, just for the heck of it. I regularly (every 6 months or so) go to a lady who is both a psychic and a beautician. She gives a back massage while reading your aura and tells you the things you need or want to know. After the massage she does a card reading. She’s been quite accurate with some of the things she’s told me.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Does she look to the future, or does she divine things about your past, or both? And do you also go to her for your hair needs?

          Wouldn’t it be awful if she cut your hair in a way that you didn’t like? “Why didn’t you TELL me I wouldn’t like it?! You’re a PSYCHIC!”

        • Simone says:

          She does both. No, she’s not a hair dresser, just the usual: massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and the like.

          Ha ha! That would be hilarious if that had to happen.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Ah. I always associate “beautician” with hair.

          Here’s hoping that she sees you on an extended journey in the very near future.

        • Simone says:

          Thanks Duke, you’re a hunny!

          *fingers and toes crossed*

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I’m usually considered more of a Hun than a hunny, so, hey, thanks. And I’ll cross my eyes to go with your fingers and toes.

        • Simone says:

          Mmmm… a “Cross-eyed Hun”? That certainly doesn’t sound or look like you, but I’ll give you an “A” for effort.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Duke: You’re welcome, amigo.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, there you are, Simon. Or maybe you’ve been here all along, only my crossed eyes prevented me from noticing.

        • Zara Potts says:

          ZP is here!!!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Great! But I think there are two of you, and I may be seeing what Irene has characterized as a weasel, though to me it looks like a shark — two sharks.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Sharks? Weasels? What the hell is going on here?
          It’s a dog.

        • Simone says:

          Ok, I’m lost. What’s with the animals?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Some time ago, if I recall correctly, Irene Zion was saying that Zara had “weasels” lurking in her gravatars. That’s what I meant.

          Of course, as all who’ve finished BFL know, “weasel” in Serbian (lasica) is slang for a hot chick — akin, I suppose, to “fox” in American English. So Irene’s remark made sense to me in that regard.

        • Simone says:

          Oh, I see. You learn something new everyday. Cool!

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Do you, Simone? I wish I did. Or maybe I do. Since hearing about Alex Chilton’s death on the 17th, I’ve been reading online about Big Star, and I’ve definitely learned a lot about it.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh sweet!! So a weasel is a good thing??
          Okay, I’m good with it now.

  15. Richard Cox says:

    That’s pretty ballsy, what you thought about saying to Faulkner’s grandsons. But I think one often needs that sort of hubris to believe anyone would care enough to read thousands and thousands of words that embody his worldview. I’ve felt that sort of thing before, too–it’s what helps me get through the countless times when I felt like I was the worst writer on earth.

    I’ve wanted to be the heir of a couple of authors, but in the end I’m glad I’m not. One of my favorite things about writing (or art in general) is the way your own work is the piecing together of all your favorite works, plus your upbringing, and the uniqueness that is you. Miracle stuff, creativity.

    Thanks for recommending my piece on magic. I just saw that when I came here to post. And thanks for the CD. I’m on track 15. Every time I think I’ve heard my favorite I hear a new favorite. I really, really like it. And for the record, though I recognized the sound of Dirty Three, I’d never heard that track before. I only have two of their records.

    Thanks, man.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Oh, not at all. I’m just glad you like the bloody thing. But are you able to read the playlist on your computer, or wherever it is you’re playing the CD? I had to rush it into the mail before I had a chance to copy the playlist, which I can easily send you.

      I agree with you about the necessity of hubris — or, anyway, cockiness. No matter how modest we are, or pretend to be, it’s finally a brazen thing, to write a book, or more to the point, to ask that people read it. However, I did not announce myself as Faulkner’s heir to his grandsons, which was a perfectly stupid impulse — and stupidity (or maybe I should say innocence) is sometimes (often?) mistaken for courage.

      I also agree with you that it’s better not to be anyone’s heir — but even if that’s the aspiration, we end being ourselves, I think. It can’t be helped.

  16. Erika Rae says:

    I never saw this background coming, Duke. Virginia farmers. Really cool history. Thank you for sharing (and thanks, Jonathan, for bringing it out!).

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Yes. Thanks again, Jonathan.

      But aren’t all our backgrounds surprising, Erika? Just the other day I was thinking, out of the blue, that you lived for a spell in Hong Kong. Don’t ask me why. The answer will bore you, and I aim to always surprise, if I’m able.

      • Erika Rae says:

        See…when you said, “Don’t ask me why,” I was thinking you meant it like you didn’t know why you thought it – but clearly you do. So now, I gotta know. I promise not to be bored. ( :

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, you’ve been warned.

          I was talking to a friend about city-states, and I was trying to name those few city-states that still exist, and Hong Kong came belatedly to mind, and I remembered — out of the blue, as I mentioned — that you used to live there. You and your family lived on an island, is that correct? So my memory has it.

          An extraordinarily uninteresting story, yes?

        • Anon says:

          Nonsense. A story told by you and involving Erika Rae – boring? Ridiculous.

          There is much between the lines. A warning was issued. Was that code? Is there danger in the knowledge to come? An international angle for Erika’s family. Why were they there? Were they hiding from something? Fleeing a crime? Pursuing a treasure, Indiana Jones style? Was this a desert island? “The island” from “Lost”? And your attempt to disinterest and deflect by reiterating and reinforcing the allegedly uninteresting aspect to the tale. Why, if it was so uninteresting, did you feel the need to direct readers’ opinion there and request their subconscious agreement?

          And why were you discussing city-states to begin with? A political discussion? Tales of strife and rebellion? Dire warnings of divide-and-conquer against the Greeks or strategic planning of wealth and influence protecting Vatican City? Who was this mysterious friend with whom you were discussing these weighty matters? And where was this discussion taking place? A seedy bar? The hold of a freighter? A busy video arcade to foil electronic eavesdropping?

          Uninteresting indeed. Harumph.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, I’m busted, I suppose. (And sorry that it’s taken me so long to respond, should you see this; I’m not apprised of comments on this piece, since it wasn’t one that I myself posted.)

          I didn’t really think Erika needed to hear why I’d thought of her having lived in Hong Kong, since it might make my anecdote unnecessarily long and tedious — hence, the “Don’t ask” remark. Also, it was an attempt at trying to assure her that it wasn’t as odd as I was afraid it might sound, that I’d thought of her having lived in Hong Kong at all. I was trying to say, “It doesn’t necessitate an explanation, but it’s not odd.” I mean, I didn’t want her to think that I’m obsessed with her or anything, that I endlessly ruminate on everything I know about her.

          But maybe you’d have to be cursed with my peculiar sense of manners to follow my logic.

          I’m glad that you seem to think the anecdote wasn’t as uninteresting as I did; and if you’re curious as to the conversation about city-states, I can no longer remember much about it. The conversation was with my friend Harry, who’s English, and I think it began with my explaining to him that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights versus the powers of the federal government (specifically with regard to slavery, which the South didn’t want to see abolished by Washington), and from there we discussed the very notion of a state, and how, once, the city-state was preeminent, which obviously isn’t the case now.

          I’m not sure how Erika came to live in Hong Kong, except that I think it may have something to do with her father having been an educator. Erika, can you confirm or deny?

          But she probably doesn’t know this exchange is taking place.

        • Erika Rae says:

          That’s where you’re wrong – mwahahaha! I see all and hear all.

          OK, so I’m tempted to let the two of you believe what you will – that I belong to a super hero family of spies not unlike the Incredibles and that I regularly go undercover playing high stakes mahjong and laser limbo on the weekends wearing a red rubberized cat suit while in pursuit of saving the world from Persian-petting, faceless men…but alas, I’m just not that interesting.

          Anyway, I went to grad school in Hong Kong. It was as simple as that. I lived on a small expat island with a bunch of backpacking hippies and took a ferry into the city two or three times a week to the university (HKU), where I turned in papers and sat for exams. This went on for two years over the handover. I wasn’t even the top student. It was all incredibly normal and humdrum.

          As far as you know.

          I am flattered to have made it into your thought process at all, Duke.

        • Anon says:

          Ugh! Dude! Rubberized cat suits in that kind of humidity? You’d have to be a superhero to stand it! And the phrase “Persian-petting” just sounds… I don’t know… naughty.

          Duke, you seem a man of exquisite manners and gentility. There was no need – on my part – for you to respond to my nonsensical ramblings at all and I hope I didn’t make you feel put-upon to answer.

        • Erika Rae says:

          …and the facade crumbles.

        • Anon says:

          The who-what-where-yerwhuthurts?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          You didn’t make me feel put upon at all, Anon, and I thank you for your kind words. I’d like to think I’m still something of the Virginia gentleman that my parents tried hard to shape, despite much resistance on my part.

          Meanwhile, I’m glad we have now cleared up the mysteries of Erika’s Hong Kong days. Did you hear that, Erika? Do you continue to see and hear all?

        • Erika Rae says:

          Huhn? What? Did somebody say something?

          I wonder if this is how God keeps up with things. He gets notifications in his inbox. It might explain why He doesn’t seem to keep up with my questions very well.

          Glad I could set you straight on Hong Kong and rubberized cat suits.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Huhn? What? Did somebody say something?

          I wonder if this is how God keeps up with things. He gets notifications in His inbox. It might explain why He doesn’t seem to keep up with my questions very well.

          Glad I could set you straight on Hong Kong. Duke, I have no doubt you’re a gentleman. As is Anon for being horrified at the thought of a rubberized catsuit in 89% humidity.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Weird – sorry for the slightly altered double post. I thought I lost it the first time, retyped it, and reposted.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Oh, right. I forgot about pingbacks. You see, I don’t receive pingbacks on this piece, since I’m not the one who posted it, and I naturally, being an egoist, assume that if I don’t receive pingbacks, no one else does, either.

          Thanks for making a double effort to comment. You’re a gentleman, too. (“Gentlewoman” sounds a bit odd, yes?)

  17. Simone says:

    Well, I’m not sure if ‘everyone’ learns something new everyday, but I like to think I do. Even if it’s some random useless information that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. It’s great to throw into conversations at odd moments.

    Today I learnt about the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”, it was mentioned in an email via a blog that I subscribe to. Not sure if you’ve heard of Hugh MacLeod? He runs a blog called ‘gapingvoid’, I was drawn to it because I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog, he mentioned it one day. Now I subscribe to both. Random chain of events, go figure.

    Here’s the link to Gapingvoid:
    http://gapingvoid.com/

    The link about the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_poppy_syndrome

    And now for me to find out who Alex Chilton (is) was….

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Have you since learned the identity of Alex Chilton? If not, here’s a link for you:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNKSs1J38EA

      Since he died, I’ve been thinking a lot about Chris Bell, who started Big Star, the band that he and Alex Chilton co-fronted. Chris Bell died young over thirty years ago. Here’s a link to one of his solo songs.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAdUM-dzBxw

      The clips in both cases are nothing special, but it’s an easy way to hear the music.

      I liked the cartoons of Hugh MacLeod, those that I saw at his blog. (No, I’d never heard of him prior to your comment.) Also, I’d like to think that I’ve been a victim of Tall Poppy Syndrome, if only for an instant.

      So, I’ve now learned two new things at the end of a long day, thanks to you. And I think, on second thought, that I do learn some little tidbit almost every day, so thanks for changing my mind.

  18. Jeannie says:

    Have you thought about publishing an anthology of short stories? Just saying.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jeannie, but, actually, I don’t write short fiction. I have written it in the past (though none of the stories survive), and maybe I will again, but for now I’m really only interested in novels.

      I have, though, considered rounding up my TNB stuff at some stage and seeing what can be done with it (which was maybe more what you had in mind.) But I’d need more than I have currently. Some of my pieces here don’t warrant being collected and published again.

      • Jeannie says:

        Indeed that is what was meant. It’s obvious that you have people who enjoy reading about your life. It would stand to reason that they would enjoy a collection of experiences.

        Sorry for the brevity of the comment but it’s early, work calls, and I’ve yet to have my coffee & croissant.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It’s a croissant now, is it? What happened to your former morning requirement?

        • Jeannie says:

          Weekend requirements are different! The pastry changes to whatever whim I may have that day.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          But didn’t we meet on your most recent sojourn to LA on a weekend? But I suppose that was another whim.

        • Jeannie says:

          Yes, though those are becoming fewer and far between due to the chaotic nature of my work. Example: I’m supposed to be in Cambria right now on a self imposed writing retreat. However, the commission piece (as seen on fb) came up forcing me to delay.

          I was happy to knockout as many words as I did the last time we met. Writing in transient I think is what you called it, is quite possibly the best way to sledgehammer writer’s block.

          Whims are good.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, sometimes, I’ll give you that. But I’ve known a few people whose whims made me crazy — none of them involving croissants, I should stress.

        • Jeannie says:

          I’m glad the great croissant search didn’t put you off. I would have gladly settled for the company.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          It was nice, wasn’t it?

          I received your message about The Unvanquished, by the way, but I haven’t yet had time to respond. But I’m glad the book did well by you. And I’m mightily enjoying the stories. Thanks again.

        • Jeannie says:

          It was. Hopefully the 10th will bring more good memories as well as music and novel talk.
          Take care.

  19. Absalom, Absalom!was the first Faulkner novel I ever read and I still pimp it as a must read to everyone I meet in life. Interesting story, Duke, not sure if you’ve read it, about Faulkner’s time as a writer in residence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Pretty humorous. There’s an entire paragraph devoted solely to his sightings at the local ABC store. Last year, or maybe two years ago, I can’t remember now, the Special Collections Library on grounds, showed an exhibit of his works, his personal writings, sketches, etc. I went. It was a great thing to see, to know that Faulkner existed in the flesh and to see his handwriting on scraps of worn paper.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Have you seen this, Jeffro?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GswCn8KkP88

      (I hope I now qualify for “Jeffro” status.)

      I was aware that Faulkner had been regularly spotted at the grocery store (I forget which one), but I didn’t know about the ABC stores. But that makes sense. Poor ole rummie.

      Also, at the same time that Faulkner lived in C’ville, so did the novelist Richard Farina, who was then learning to play the dulcimer, hillbilly-style. On the off-chance that you haven’t heard of Farina:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08epso8yRBQ

      His is one of the saddest stories ever, but enough for now.

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