In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
– William Faulkner
Last time I wrote one of these posts I admitted that I’ve never read anything by Raymond Chandler. This time it’s William Faulkner.
Despite having several Faulkner books on my shelf, I have yet to pick any of them up and actually start reading. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always heard that they are tough books to get through. I’m intimidated. There I said it. And I know I’m not alone on that one. In fact, I came across an article entitled “How To Read Faulkner“, so I know there are others like me who feel that they might not “get” Faulkner. At least, not on the first try.
But I can’t let that be my excuse forever, can I?
I was talking to a friend recently who mentioned that he started reading As I Lay Dying and really wasn’t loving it. He said that maybe he just wasn’t a Faulkner fan. I told him that it’s probably best not to make that kind of broad statement until he’s read a few more of Faulkner’s books (easy for me to say, having never read ANY). That conversation lit a fire under my ass. Time to get reading.
William Faulkner reading list:
The Sound and the Fury
As I Lay Dying
A Rose for Emily
Did I miss any Faulkner titles that you think I should definitely read? Which one should I start with? I’d appreciate any advice.
And speaking of advice, here are some words of wisdom direct from Mr. Faulkner on what it takes to be a good novelist:
“Ninety-nine percent talent . . . ninety-nine percent discipline . . . ninety-nine percent work. He must never be satisfied with what he does. It never is as good as it can be done. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.”
(Source: Paris Review)