|William Faulkner and niece Dean Faulkner|
on her wedding day
Rowan Oak, Oxford, Mississippi
Dean Faulkner was the daughter of Dean Swift Faulkner, William's youngest brother. He was killed when his bi-plane crashed during an airshow in 1935. His daughter was born four months after his death.
William took in Dean's widow and helped to raise his niece. Here are her recollections of "Pappy" and the entire Faulkner clan of Oxford, Mississippi.
We know that she loved Pappy for his many kindnesses and generosity. She also looks squarely at his famous alcoholic binges - although she writes that she never saw him drunk - and his eccentric behavior as well as the family's.
This is an affectionate memoir - funny, sad, and entertaining all at the same time. Since I didn't know much about William Faulkner's life, some of the stories here may be well-known but they were new to me.
I especially liked the other authors who drop by in the book: William Styron, Shelby Foote, Sinclair Lewis, and Walker Percy to name a few. I read that Faulkner did not want to go to Sweden to collect his Nobel Prize. That he never answered the phone in his house. That he added the U to the original spelling of the family name of Falkner. That he was a bit of a ladies man. And, that he loved mystery stories.
Dean Faulkner's evocation of Southern small town life is told in an non-sentimental way. After all, she was there when Federal troops came to Ole Miss to protect James Meredith when he enrolled and integrated the university.
William Faulkner died in 1962. His niece Dean married Larry Wells and lived in Oxford until her death in 2011. She and her husband ran the Yoknapatawpha Press for thirty-two years.
There is just enough information in the book to give the reader a general idea of Faulkner's life as seen by someone who loved and admired him. Unless you are a Faulkner scholar, it is enough.