William Faulkner was a literary genius, and one of America's most important and influential writers. Drawing on previously unavailable sources -- including letters, memoirs, and interviews with Faulkner's daughter and lovers -- Jay Parini has crafted a biography that delves into the mystery of this gifted and troubled writer.
His Faulkner is an extremely talented, obsessive artist plagued by alcoholism and a bad marriage who somehow transcends his limitations. Parini weaves the tragedies and triumphs of Faulkner's life in with his novels, serving up a biography that's as engaging as it is insightful.
Parini does his best work investigating the early days of Faulkner and putting them into a social, specifically Southern, context, but unlike Blotner he manages to enlarge that context into the whole space of American modernism. He makes you feel Faulkner's yearning to be accepted as part of an international avant-garde, and yet at the same time he didn't want that, he wanted, like his grandfather, to be a writer revered by his peers down home. Parini does enough with the "gay male friends" theme to warrant further scholarly investigation into gay modernist Southern art and literature, though such a topic doesn't necessarily depemd on the weight of Faulkner's name for it to be interesting in and of itself. And how about his friendship with Bil and Helen Baird and the whole puppeteering thing, I could read about this forever.