Becoming Faulkner by Philip Weinstein

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

― William Faulkner, from Requiem for a Nun

A number of fine biographies of Faulkner preceded this book, but the twist here is different. As the title suggests, Faulkner was a self invented creation, as remarkable in achievement as he was miraculous in duration. He seemed hell bent on destroying himself with alcohol and it’s easily argued that he ultimately succeeded.

His story abounds with paradox, irony and incredulity.

A high school dropout, he mastered the English language. A slight stature of five and a half feet tall, he personified swagger. A washout by midlife with all of his books out of print, his revival championed by an admirer led to the Nobel prize.

Faulkner stands alone in his ability to bring words to the inexpressible interiors of the human mind and his books still challenge after decades of commentary. In the end, he longed for anonymity but his fame is unsurpassed.

By the end of this book you will know him better, but you’ll never figure him out.