William Faulkner was a pretty serious guy, and his answers to an interview with The Paris Review in 1956 reflects a severe staunchness and didacticism that, as an enormous fan, I can only afford him. He brought cerebral European modernism to America and rolled it around in dirt. Here’s my favorite reply of his:
PARIS REVIEW: Then what would be the best environment for a writer?
WILLIAM FAULKNER: […] If you mean me, the best job that was ever offered to me was to become a landlord in a brothel. In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. It gives him perfect economic freedom; he’s free of fear and hunger; he has a roof over his head and nothing whatever to do except keep a few simple accounts and to go once every month and pay off the local police. The place is quiet during the morning hours, which is the best time of the day to work. There’s enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored; it gives him a certain standing in his society; he has nothing to do because the madam keeps the books; all the inmates of the house are females and would defer to him and call him “sir.” All the bootleggers in the neighborhood would call him “sir.” And he could call the police by their first names.
It’s so perfectly hilarious it seems sarcastic, or even a satire, but in the context of the entire hyper-rational interview, he’s simply following his logic. I love the way he says “social life in the evening” unabashedly with a straight face. It’s official, ‘Faulkner as pimp’ edges out ‘Kafka as clerk’ as my all-time-high mental image/ideal of a writer. The next time I orgasm I’m gonna cough out Yoknapatawpha! and have a flashback to a previous chapter. Bill, my man, slap that ass.