Bacon. Any time I ask friends what I should write about (writer’s block being as normal to me as a hangnail and just as annoying), inevitably someone will break The Bacon Barrier early. Write about bacon, they say. It’s yummy. You love it. Then comes a tumble of Bubba Blue-like bacon uses: bacon pizza, bacon salt, bacon mayo, bacon bras, bacon roofing tiles, you get the idea. Bacon, indeed, is delightful, but I’ll leave the bacon writing to others for the moment. I’d like to talk about William Faulkner.
What’s with the weird jump, chump? Screw you. Go read about unicorn dust and electric cars, hippie.
Bacon is to The South what, well, Faulkner is to The South. That is to say, ubiquitous. Unlike Faulkner, bacon will not leave you curled up in a ball on the floor of your dorm, begging for Cliff Notes, and damning the day you ever thought being an American Lit major was a good idea. Bacon is your friend. Faulkner? Well, Faulkner is many things, but your friend is not one of them.
I’ve been thinking about ole Bill here a lot the past few weeks. I’ve been on a sort of southern lit kick; although, to be honest, it started off when I read a bunch of Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is not Southern. She was from California. But, by damn, that woman should have been Southern. Something came up in conversation about her famous short story The Lottery. It occurred to me that I had not read much else by Jackson, so I immersed myself in her short stories and novels. Good stuff, that. While I was on a roll of stuff I hadn’t read but should have, one name kept gnawing at the back of my brain: William Faulkner. Do it, the voice said. Read some Faulkner. You’re a smart girl who has not made it through any of his novels. Do it. Do it now. Be smart.
At this point, I’d like to make a confession to every instructor who ever made me read Faulkner: I finished not one novel. I totally bullshitted my way through every test and essay on the dude. Yes, I read the short stories, but Sweet Gussie, the novels? Are you kidding me? Yes, I understand he’s a giant. Yes, I get his impact on the world of fiction. I love listening to his dialogue. Amazing. Maybe I should get his novels on CD. I might try that because his dialogue is like music. It’s the stuff in between the dialogue that kills me. As a very well-read friend of mine said recently, “Look, I’m gonna sound like a damn redneck when I say this, but the man puts words where words don’t need to be.” Indeed, my friend, indeed.
When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher and French teacher took me to a reading by Eudora Welty. Hearing her read her own work—and talk about it—gave me an appreciation for her writing I would not have otherwise had. (Although, to be totally transparent, I find Welty’s stories to be trifling. I know, I know. Who am I to say? I know what I like. Love her photographs. Does that redeem me?) Perhaps I would feel the same way about Mr. Faulkner had I ever heard him read.
So a few weeks ago I picked up a volume of short stories and a couple of novels. Ask me what I finished. Go on, ask me. Nothing. Not one of them. I couldn’t get through any of it because I just wasn’t interested in the stories. Couldn’t care any less about any of them. And right there, right at that moment, I became an adult. At 38 years old, I can hold my head high and say, Faulkner? Meh. You don’t need to try to take me to the other side. It’s not going to happen. It’s sort of like beets. I don’t care how hot they are right now. I don’t care how good for me they are. I get along fine without them.
So what’s the point, you ask? Well, there really isn’t one. I just want to say that I’ve come to terms with my dislike of Faulkner. I’m okay with it. It doesn’t make me any less smart. I can still carry on the requisite conversations one occasionally finds oneself having about said Mr. Faulkner, but I’m out of the closet now. And it feels good.
Now, because you don’t read this for my sparkling literary criticism, I give you:
5 Ways Bacon is Better Than Faulkner
- Bacon can be served any time of the day. Faulkner? Best after cocktail time.
- Bacon makes your house smell really yummy. Faulkner? Well…
- Bacon makes a grilled cheese sing. Faulkner? Terrible with cheese. Trust me.
- Bacon transcends language. Faulkner confounds it.
- Bacon is great for a hangover. Too much Faulkner will give you a hangover.
One Way Faulkner is Better Than Bacon
Your vast knowledge of bacon’s oeuvre will not get you into the pants of that cute Lit major.