Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi

Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi

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by Dean Faulkner Wells
     
 

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In Every Day by the Sun, Dean Faulkner Wells recounts the story of the Faulkners of Mississippi, whose legacy includes pioneers, noble and ignoble war veterans, three never-convicted mur­derers, the builder of the first railroad in north Mississippi, the founding president of a bank, an FBI agent, four pilots (all brothers), and a Nobel Prize winner,See more details below

Overview

In Every Day by the Sun, Dean Faulkner Wells recounts the story of the Faulkners of Mississippi, whose legacy includes pioneers, noble and ignoble war veterans, three never-convicted mur­derers, the builder of the first railroad in north Mississippi, the founding president of a bank, an FBI agent, four pilots (all brothers), and a Nobel Prize winner, arguably the most important Ameri­can novelist of the twentieth century. She also reveals wonderfully entertaining and intimate stories and anecdotes about her family—in particular her uncle William, or “Pappy,” with whom she shared color­ful, sometimes utterly frank, sometimes whimsical, conversations and experiences.
 
            This deeply felt memoir explores the close re­lationship between Dean’s uncle and her father, Dean Swift Faulkner, a barnstormer killed at age twenty-eight during an air show four months be­fore she was born. It was William who gave his youngest brother an airplane, and after Dean’s tragic death, William helped to raise his niece. He paid for her education, gave her away when she was married, and maintained a unique relationship with her throughout his life.
           
            From the 1920s to the early civil rights era, from Faulkner’s winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature to his death in 1962, Every Day by the Sun explores the changing culture and society of Oxford, Mis­sissippi, while offering a rare glimpse of a notori­ously private family and an indelible portrait of a national treasure.
 


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Editorial Reviews

Nora Krug
Much of this may not be news to Faulkner scholars and aficionados. But Wells's personalized rendition brings a warmth to the lore. In her telling, Faulkner is less a literary icon than a quirky uncle who took her sailing, escorted her trick-or-treating, showed her how to clean a gun, and drove her to and from school…Wells says Every Day by the Sun is a kind of thank-you note to her uncle…but it is also a testament to her own gifts as a writer.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In 2010, Wells, William Faulkner's niece, became the oldest surviving Faulkner and found herself alone with firsthand memories of the long-deceased people that shaped and supported the literary legend. After the death of her father months before she was born, Wells's uncles, including the Nobel-prize winning author, became important figures in her life. William—or "pappy"—took Wells under his wing, paying for her education and participating in her wedding. Wells remembers sailing excursions where William would allow Wells and her cousin to sip his stout-champagne mixture if they could guess the author of his poetry recitations. In these reminiscences, by turns humorous and tedious, Wells focuses mostly on her relationship with her famous uncle, but also draws upon previously unseen letters and other archival material to recreate a portrait the Faulkner family and their rapscallion legacy, which includes ties to thieves, adulterers, killers, racists, and liars. Readers will likely be familiar with many of these tales about William Faulkner, as Wells leans heavily on Joel Williamson's William Faulkner and Southern History and Joseph Blotner's definitive Faulkner biography to complement her own recollections. (Mar. 22)
From the Publisher
"Nobody could have written this book except Dean Faulkner Wells. It is not only charming, poignant and witty, it is a priceless contribution to America's rich literary history."Winston Groom, author, Forrest Gump

"Dean Faulkner Wells has written a memorable family story, full of the intimacies of place and cherished connections, that not incidentally sheds unexpected, humanizing light on her august uncle, William Faulkner."—Thomas McGuane

"A funny, extremely readable, incredibly likable memoir of what it was like to grow up with the great man….A wonderful book."—Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama

"Read Every Day by the Sun, then read Go Down Moses, The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion, and you will feel you have been on an archaeological dig with a master. Dean Faulkner Wells knows where the gold is buried, where the heart strings sang, where the understanding and love were engendered….Burn the deconstructionists’ texts. Every day By The Sun is all you need."—Ellen Gilchrist

"I can't recall the last time I enjoyed a book as much as Every Day By The Sun. Dean Faulkner Wells has performed a miracle: She’s brought a great man back to life, and in doing so she’s summoned a time and a place that now seem too far gone. I love her clean, sharp, unpretentious prose, the well-hewn stories piled one on top of the other, the intimate revelations about a family that belongs to all of us but belonged to her first. William Faulkner is a fascinating character indeed, but it is Wells herself whom I found most captivating. She’s somebody to fall in love with and never get over."—John Ed Bradley, author, Tupelo Nights

"A fresh, affectionate view of 'Pappy,' the great and difficult writer."—Roy Blount, Jr.

"Part biography, part memoir, Wells' work does much to humanize the man who is often remembered only for his words. A must-read for Faulkner-philes."—Kirkus

"Marvelously evocative, intimate, and deeply moving."
—John Berendt

Library Journal
William Faulkner's youngest brother, Dean, died in a plane crash in 1935, four months before his daughter and namesake was born. The novelist, who had given his brother the plane, took it upon himself to help raise and support his niece. In this memoir, she presents a lively history of the Faulkner clan in Oxford, MS, through the unrest of the 1960s. She tells how Rowan Oak, the Faulkner estate, became a haven for her, an escape from the domestic trials of her mother and stepfather, Jimmy Meadow, an alcoholic who died on Chicago's Skid Row. As an insider, the author is able to provide an intimate view of William Faulkner as paterfamilias. While she recounts his caring relationships with his wife, Estelle, and his daughter, Jill, she does not shrink from commenting on Faulkner's legendary drinking bouts and extramarital affairs. The portrait of Faulkner that emerges is of a humane, decent, loving family man who struggled to satisfy the emotional as well as financial needs of his extended family. VERDICT A candid and engaging book that will appeal to readers who enjoy memoirs in general, as well as those interested specifically in William Faulkner.—William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
Kirkus Reviews

Girlhood memories from Wells, William Faulkner's niece.

In her debut memoir, the author recounts her childhood spent among literary greatness. After her father perished in a plane crash, Dean Faulkner was taken in by her uncle, William, a man "of many faces, literary genius, desperate alcoholic subject to severe bouts of depression, driven early on by the unassuaged fear of failure..." Yet as Wells notes, the acclaimed author was far more complicated than his vices, regularly providing "emotional and financial" support for his young niece, playing the role of loving father. "[M]y family can claim nearly every psychological aberration," she writes of the Faulkner clan, yet few pages are spent dissecting the "narcissism and nymphomania, alcoholism and anorexia, agoraphobia, manic depression [and] paranoid schizophrenia" to which she alludes. Instead, the author provides insight into the personal life of Faulkner, a rare glimpse into Faulkner the uncle rather than Faulkner the wordsmith. The author eschews discussion of literary theory, instead recounting New Years Eves and Halloweens spent beneath the boughs of Rowan Oak and stories of her "Pappy" (her pet name for her uncle) telling ghost stories to his young relatives, complete with clanking chains at the climactic moments. Wells' personal tales are the highlight of her book. On occasion, her side stories that explore other branches of the Faulkner family tree tend to veer off course, serving as distraction rather than enlightening anecdotes. The author is at her best when she fixes her gaze solely on her uncle.

Part biography, part memoir, Wells' work does much to humanize the man who is often remembered only for his words. A must-read for Faulkner-philes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307591067
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/22/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
770,033
File size:
11 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Nobody could have written this book except Dean Faulkner Wells. It is not only charming, poignant and witty, it is a priceless contribution to America's rich literary history."Winston Groom, author, Forrest Gump

"Dean Faulkner Wells has written a memorable family story, full of the intimacies of place and cherished connections, that not incidentally sheds unexpected, humanizing light on her august uncle, William Faulkner."—Thomas McGuane

"A funny, extremely readable, incredibly likable memoir of what it was like to grow up with the great man….A wonderful book."—Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama

"Read Every Day by the Sun, then read Go Down Moses, The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion, and you will feel you have been on an archaeological dig with a master. Dean Faulkner Wells knows where the gold is buried, where the heart strings sang, where the understanding and love were engendered….Burn the deconstructionists’ texts. Every day By The Sun is all you need."—Ellen Gilchrist

"I can't recall the last time I enjoyed a book as much as Every Day By The Sun. Dean Faulkner Wells has performed a miracle: She’s brought a great man back to life, and in doing so she’s summoned a time and a place that now seem too far gone. I love her clean, sharp, unpretentious prose, the well-hewn stories piled one on top of the other, the intimate revelations about a family that belongs to all of us but belonged to her first. William Faulkner is a fascinating character indeed, but it is Wells herself whom I found most captivating. She’s somebody to fall in love with and never get over."—John Ed Bradley, author, Tupelo Nights

"A fresh, affectionate view of 'Pappy,' the great and difficult writer."—Roy Blount, Jr.

"Part biography, part memoir, Wells' work does much to humanize the man who is often remembered only for his words. A must-read for Faulkner-philes."—Kirkus

"Marvelously evocative, intimate, and deeply moving."
—John Berendt

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