Saturday, April 29, 2017

the last book I ever read (South and West: From A Notebook by Joan Didion, excerpt eight)

from South and West: From A Notebook by Joan Didion:

We drove out on Old Taylor Road at night to look for Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s house. There were fireflies, and heat lighning, and the thick vines all around, and we could not see the house until the next day. It was large and private, secluded, set back from the road. I read a book about Faulkner in Oxford, interviews with his fellow citizens in Oxford, and I was deeply affected by their hostility to him and by the manner in which he had managed to ignore it. I thought if I took a rubbing from his gravestone, a memento from this place, I would know every time I looked at it that the opinion of others counted for not much one way or another.

So we went out to the graveyard, the Oxford cemetery, to look for the grave. Under a live oak tree a black kid sat in a parked two-tone salmon Buick, the door open. He was sitting on the floorboard with his feet outside, and while I was there several cars with Ole Miss and Archie’s Army stickers came winding up the cemetery road, and boys would get out, and they would have some dealing with the black kid and drive away. He seemed to be dealing marijuana, and his car had a Wayne State sticker. Other than that there was nobody, just rabbits and squirrels and the hum of bees and the heat, dizzying heat, heat so intense I thought of fainting. For several hours we looked for the grave, found the Faulkner plot and a number of other Faulkner/Falkner graves, but we never found William Faulkner’s grave, not in that whole graveyard full of Oxford citizens and infant sons.

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