Colin Firth's Bookshelf
By William Faulkner
It's not the sheer art of Faulkner's literary experimentation that I admire. I'm haunted by the heat he describes and by the smells, which are almost always revolting. I know that's a strange reason to be attracted to an author, but I love it when writing is as potent as it is here. This novel is about sexual revulsion, racial revulsion, self-revulsion. It's such uncomfortable reading for modern audiences. The problem with racial identity is overwhelming to the main character, Joe Christmas. As a child, he heard nothing but whispering about his mixed blood, and he learns to despise that part of himself. This is a world where every piece of decency is marginalized and suffocated. It's funny, you know: This is my favorite of these books and the one I find the most difficult to talk about.