Apr 10

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What is the American Literary Canon, how can it be measured, and has it changed in the last 60+ years? Why and how to read William Faulkner and which of his books we’re planning on starting with. Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton is out in paperback now, and Jim Lynch, author of Border Songs, is out with a new book, Truth Like the Sun.

Booktopia Swag: We now have three official Booktopia Souvenir items ready for purchase! (Click the name of any item to be taken to the page for purchasing) The Living in Booktopia book, which is being printed on Northshire Espresso Book Machine, is finished and came out wonderfully! Thanks to everyone who contributed their vision of Booktopia. NOTE: even if you are attending Booktopia in Manchester, and plan to buy the book then, we urge you to pre-order it and indicate that it should be held for pickup. We want to make sure we have enough! Also available: official Booktopia T-Shirts and Tote Bags, via our Zazzle Store.

The Changing Literary Canon?

A recent blog post about the evolution of the American Literary Canon got Ann and I talking about exactly how you can go about measuring an author’s popularity in academic circles. The author of this post ranked authors by the number of scholarly papers written about them, which places Henry James in the top spot, followed closely by William Faulkner and T.S. Eliot. What are your thoughts on this list and the author’s methodology for ranking?

Faulknerpalooza (10:35)

BOTNS listener Hope posted, on Facebook, a link to an article called How to Read William Faulkner. In it, the author explains how Faulkner wrote, what he expected of his readers, and why, for him, character development took precedence over plot. It’s an extremely engaging article and one that got Ann and me excited to read (or re-read) Faulkner in time for Booktopia Oxford. We both, independently, decided to start with As I Lay Dying, but we’re encouraging everyone attending or anyone who wants to take part, to read any Faulkner that interests them. Discussions will occur on our Goodreads Group and, of course, in Oxford!

For more information on the Faulkners of Mississippi, check out Every Day by the Sun, a memoir by William Faulkner’s niece Dean Faulkner Wells.

Two Books We Can’t Wait For You to Read (20:52)

     

Blood, Bones and Butter, by Gabrielle Hamilton is a book I loved last year. It’s out in paperback now – with a new chapter bringing the story up to date – and was just named Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year in the Indies Choice Awards. Ann has been a fan of Jim Lynch’s previous books, and his new novel, Truth Like the Sun is no exception. Set in Seattle, the story takes place both in 1962, during the World’s Fair, and in 2001, when a young reporter decides to get to the truth behind Roger Morgan, current mayoral candidate, and the man responsible for bringing the fair to town forty years earlier.

  • Sue Jackson

    Very interesting podcast!  I agree with Michael – I’d be interested to hear which authors are most often read/taught in high school and college lit classes – I think that would be a much better measure of importance and popularity.  From my perspective, the academic community writing scholarly papers seems a bit removed from “the real world.”

    In fact, I have never read either Faulkner or James – not in high school English classes, college lit classes, or anytime since.  We read a lot of Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Dickens in high school.  My oldest son is a senior in high school, and he hasn’t read any Faulkner or James, either!  His lit classes (American Lit sophomore year, British Lit junior year, and World Lit senior year) have encompassed a very diverse group of authors, both modern and classics.  For instance, his American Lit class read Ray Bradbury, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, The Awakening by Kate Chopin (proclaimed by my son and his friends to be “the worst book ever written!”), The Red Badge of Courage, and The Scarlet Letter (also not a hit with teen boys!).

    Like I said, fascinating topic!

    I also liked Blood, Bones and Butter (on audio) and would love to read that new chapter!

    Great podcast, as always!

    Sue

     

    Great Books for Kids and
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    Book By Book

  • Anonymous

    I went on a “Faulkner kick” two and 1/2 years ago when I was pregnant with twins.  I needed to focus on something other than the discomfort of having twins.  Faulkner was the perfect choice, I really had to focus on the written word, which was good.  Faulkner was not an easy read, but I am glad I stuck with each of the novels I read.  One of my favorites was The Unvanquished.  It grabbed me from the first page.  The Unvanquished predecessors were As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, which are two of the heavier Faulkner selections, which probably had a great deal to do with why I liked The Unvanquished so much.  Anyway, I did agree very much with the statement that you have to have 
    sticktoitness with Faulkner’s novels.  Love BOTNS wish I could attend Booktopia–maybe when the twins are older…sigh!

  • Anonymous

    I went on a “Faulkner kick” two and 1/2 years ago when I was pregnant with twins.  I needed to focus on something other than the discomfort of having twins.  Faulkner was the perfect choice, I really had to focus on the written word, which was good.  Faulkner was not an easy read, but I am glad I stuck with each of the novels I read.  One of my favorites was The Unvanquished.  It grabbed me from the first page.  The Unvanquished predecessors were As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, which are two of the heavier Faulkner selections, which probably had a great deal to do with why I liked The Unvanquished so much.  Anyway, I did agree very much with the statement that you have to have “sticktoitness” with Faulkner’s novels.  Love BOTNS wish I could attend Booktopia–maybe when the twins are older…sigh!

  • http://steppingoutofthepage.blogspot.com/ Stepping Out of the Page

    What a great podcast! New here, but loving your blog style. Really interesting content – thanks!

    Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page

  • http://harleyinspiration.blogspot.com/ HGKing

    I back when I was in college in the late 60′s I read 3 Faulkner books.  Light in August was my favorite by far.  You have inspired me to go back and re-read one or two.  The only book I have read multiple times has been Crime and Punishment which I have read 4 times at various stages of my life.

  • Lcwilson45

    Thanks for recommending Every Day by the Sun. My husband and I were in the middle of planning a trip to Oxford, MS (as part of our quest to see all 50 states together). We had tried to read some of Faulkner’s novels, but I admit it, neither of us wanted to work that hard. We settled for short stories and then read this wonderful biography. I was actually reading in Oxford, which enriched both my reading and my sightseeing. So thank you for sharing this – it definitely added to our vacation and our understanding of the place Faulkner held in his family and in American letters.

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