The Private World Of William Faulkner

ISBN: 0815404247
ISBN 13: 9780815404248
By: Robert Coughlan

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Reader's Thoughts

Richard

Yes! I am the first person on Goodreads to write a review of this book! Which makes sense, because this little paperback gem from Robert Coughlan (Robert who? you ask. Exactly.) seems to be pretty obscure. If "The Private World of William Faulkner" doesn't seem to have much web presence, it's probably because it was put out almost sixty years ago by Avon Books. Yes, the same Avon that now publishes trashy romance novels. Only in those days, according to Wikipedia, Avon was peddling pulpy trash of all genres: sci-fi, whodunits, westerns, fantasy, and, apparently, they dabbled in (WTF?) literary biography.This curiosity of a book seems to have been written potboiler-style: "let's get it to the presses, boys, don't bother with the editing." Let me just say that this is not the best way to write literary biography or, even worse, literary criticism. As a result of its rushed publication, TPWOWF has a very poor outline. It begins, as most biographies do, with the history of the "Falkners" (the "U" was removed by William's ancestors) and runs kind of chronologically up to the point when the Great American Author receives his Nobel Prize. But it is not a comprehensive portrait of its subject. Details are spotty. The majority of the content is anecdotal and major episodes of the author's life are more or less glossed over, like, "Oh, by the way, William Faulkner spent a few years in Hollywood. He did some crazy things there. Oh! did I mention this other thing that he did?"The crazy part about this book is how evident it is that Robert Coughlan loves William Faulkner. This is taboo, right? Aren't biographers supposed to be objective? To wit: Faulkner's very disturbing alcoholism is barely mentioned, and when it is it's treated with a chuckle and a wink ("Ho ho! Another three-week bender! The old coot sure loves to drink, eh boys? What an author!). I'm not sure, but I think Coughlan is just echoing the prevailing social attitude of the time toward drink. Alcoholism was more acceptable then. It wasn't understood as a serious disease with majorly deleterious social effects.So, yeah. This is not the best book ever. But that's okay because you'll probably never read it. I got my copy at Third Place Books when they were having their forty percent off sale. I paid, like, eighty cents for it and read it on my lunch breaks this week. At least my purchase wasn't a total waste. I can cut out the black and white photos of Faulkner and put them up by my desk.Enough of this cheap biography. I need to read me some "Light in August." I will, as always Goodreads, keep you posted. Much Love,Richard

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