Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pappy Faulkner

Rowan Oak
Oxford, Mississippi

I have read about thirty pages of Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells. She is the niece of William Faulkner, the only daughter of William's youngest brother Dean, a pilot, who was killed when his bi-plane crashed during an airshow in 1935. His daughter would not be born until four months after his death.

The title comes from a remark made by a family member speaking of her father: Dean never needed a watch. He lived every day of his life by the sun.

Until Dean was about seven, when her mother Louise remarried, she lived with and was raised by her paternal grandmother, Maud, in Oxford, Mississippi. She also spent time at her maternal grandparent's farm - some of her favorite memories are of the peace and quiet of the country. And of course she was often at Rowan Oak with William and his wife Estelle.

She called William Faulkner "Pappy" and writes that he was devastated by his brother's death. William had bought the plane for his brother that dove nose down into the earth that day. 

This is the story of growing up with and around the Faulkner clan. She writes about the family early on in the book to get it all out in the open:

Over the generations my family can claim nearly every psychological aberration: narcissism and nymphomania, alcoholism and anorexia, agoraphobia, manic depression, paranoid schizophrenia. There have been thieves, adulterers, sociopaths, killers, racists, liars, and folks suffering from panic attacks and real bad tempers, though to the best of my knowledge we've never had a barn burner or a preacher.

Dean Faulkner Wells died just last year. She and her husband, Larry Wells, ran the Yoknapatawpha Press in Oxford for thirty-two years. This should prove to be an up close and personal look into the goings on at Rowan Oak. 

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