I recently went on a short girls’ trip to Oxford, Mississippi. One of us had a work trip, one had never been to Mississippi, and one’s always up for a good time!
As we do on all trips like this, we made a point of visiting the local independent bookstore. Square Books is an institution in town, with several shop fronts covering new, used, and children’s book specialties. I could have stayed and read in one of their comfy chairs all day! It’s a miracle I only left with one book - Southern Lady Code…a fitting purchase from the deep south.
Now, I knew that Oxford was Faulkner’s town, so I wanted to read something of his during the trip to set the scene so I could appreciate this little southern town even more. (Yes, we visited Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home, too!) Before I left for Mississippi, I scoured my own personal library, and happened to have an unread Faulkner on my shelf already! It was Absalom, Absalom!, and it was my dad’s copy from the 60s. Extra charming are the notes he took in the margins. He was either a bigger nerd than me, or he used this book when he taught college English classes.
I didn’t know much about Faulkner prior to this trip, but I’m still enjoying the book immensely. Yes, it’s very dense, and the author’s rambling stream of consciousness descriptions can convolute even the simplest plot line if you’re not paying complete attention. But, the reader gets a full sense of how each character relates to the others, appreciates the winding intricacies of character development, and gets a decent break from the 280 character limit present in most contemporary literature writing. I like losing myself in the land of Sutpen’s Hundred and trying to figure out exactly what’s going on in the weird triangle of Judith, Henry, and Bon.
I recommend this book to anyone going on a southern road trip that expects to have some time to relax in a rocking chair. Bonus points for wearing a bow tie or a bonnet while you read. As a pairing, I’d recommend something brooding and long-winded like a big old cabernet sauvignon that’s been aged in bourbon barrels (Beringer Bros. Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 2016). Faulkner liked bourbon best, but get one of these high alcohol, big wines, and it’s hard to tell what will last longer - the flavor of the wine or your reading of the book!