Sitting at work, trying to lose myself in the serious and important enterprise that is not-working whilst at work (or to be precise, doing other, far more valuable work, such as reading Harpers) I came across this description of William Faulkner’s brief time in the University of Mississippi post office (from Javier Marias’s Written Lives).
“Apparently one of the lecturers there, quite reasonably, complained: the only way he could get his letters was by rummaging around in the garbage can at the back door, where the unopened mail bags all too often ended up. Faulkner did not like having his reading interrupted, and the sale of stamps fell alarmingly: by way of explanation, Faulkner told his family he was not prepared to keep getting up to wait on people at the window and having to be beholden to any son-of-a-bitch who had two cents to buy a stamp.”
And lest there remain any doubts regarding his good nature:
“When he died, piles of letters, packages and manuscripts sent by admirers were found, none of which he had opened. In fact, the only letters he did open were those from publishers, and then only very cautiously: he would make a tiny slit in the envelope and then shake it to see if a cheque appeared. If it didn’t, then the letter would simply join all those other things that can wait forever.”
I would repeat his views on what a woman should do, but some son-of-a-bitch wants to know who wrote The Kite Runner. I will sweetly smile and tell him, “William fucking Faulkner.”