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"teaching at clemson was very hard work"

Or at least this is what Barry Hannah told the Paris Review according to his obituary in yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

Save for the "bourbon" and the "total loosening and release," this quotation is strangely reminding me of my own predicament: the baby's Mom is out of town for most of March, the first manuscript deadline is March 31, and the five classes continue.

I like what Hannah says about the "high mark" that Faulkner sets and his goal of shooting for it. There are too many "contemporary classic" novelists who excell at what they do, but what they write is clearly not challenging the American canon. You might say that what they lack is a "distinct voice."

Of course, I tend not to be too keen or amazed by some of today's other footstep followers of Faulkner--Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison come to mind. Despite ancestors, both have that "distinct voice," and although I certainly respect their projects and have enjoyed some of their novels, I just don't gravitate toward their writing (no desperation to read the next one or get on a McCarthy kick, say). I'm not familiar with the dead man's writing but hope to investigate when time permits.

I do love William Faulkner and recommend a conversation with Michael Rizza (USC, PhD candidate) to anyone who doesn't. Absalom, Absalom! is the novel you ought to read now. He held a joint chair in writing and drinking long before MFA programs began to offer cushy academic posts for such dual citizens.

Barry Hannah, rest in peace and in Oxford, Mississippi.

Well, back to the Cheerios with local honey (better allergy medicine than bourbon?) and the next stack of papers... and the next dead man too.

Cheery ho.


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