Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I was tidying my shelves last night when I came upon a book I bought based on something I had read in Lisa Moore’s now-defunct Globe and Mail column. I cannot recall her topic but I remember she mentioned Faulkner’s New Orleans Sketches (1958) and that I would pick up a copy next time I was out.

New Orleans Sketches is a collection of short pieces (portraits mostly) written during the first half of 1925, when Faulkner worked for the Times-Picayune. These pieces, said to be the author’s first foray into fiction, were published in the newspaper’s Sunday feature section, as well as The Double Dealer, one of the South’s earliest and most influential modern literary journals.

Flipping through the book (a Digit Books paperback edition), I stopped on “Frankie and Johnny”. This is an entirely spoken piece, with all but two of its five hundred words (“Oh, Johnny!”) belonging to Johnny. Below is the first half of the second paragraph, the one I reread this morning:

“When I see you coming down the street back yonder it was like them two ferry boats hadn’t seen each other until then, and they would stop when they met instead of crossing each other, and they would turn and go off side by side together where they wasn’t nobody except them.”

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