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

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Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi [Paperback]

Dean Faulkner Wells
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 21, 2012
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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews


"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

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

DEAN FAULKNER WELLS is the niece of William Faulkner and the daughter of Dean Swift Faulkner and Louise Hale. She is the author of, among other works, The Ghosts of Rowan Oak: William Faulkner’s Ghost Stories for Children and is the editor of The New Great American Writers Cook­book and The Best of Bad Faulkner. She lives with her husband, Larry Wells, in Oxford, Mississippi, where they run Yoknapatawpha Press, a regional publishing house that focuses on southern writers.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307591050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307591050
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
"Now I am, one might say, the last primary source -- and I don't like anything about it." Thus begins the memoir of Dean Faulkner Wells, the last direct inheritor of the genius that was William Faulkner, seen here as a talent among many in a distinctive American family. Dean writes with perspicacity, dry humor, and an accent that is also an inheritance -- idiosyncratic, educated, bemused and very southern.

Dean (named for her father) was not yet born when Dean Swift Faulkner, a barnstorming pilot, was killed in a flaming crash in an airplane given to him by his older brother, Bill. She would never know her father, and fate decreed that she would be raised by her mother Louise (Wese) and Uncle Bill, whom she called Pappy. Indeed, she was shepherded through life by the entire Faulkner clan and claims "there has never been a Poor Little Fatherless Child as spoiled as I." But her recollections of her lost father have the poignancy of Pappy's own voice, the child idealizing a beautiful man she could know only through the memories of others, a man who never needed a watch because he "lived every day of his life by the sun."

The author of other books about the Faulkner family, Dean runs Yoknapatawpha Press, dedicated to the work of southern writers. Her personal recollections stand as a testament to a way of life no longer possible and barely imaginable --- slow-paced, privileged and remarkably calm considering the dynamic characters who comprised her Oxford, Mississippi family.

It is also a portrait of the town, the site of Rowan Oak, the homestead Pappy established, and where Dean and the older generation and grandchildren communed in the warmth of heritage and tradition.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is Just Such a Wonderful Read April 2, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have just read the first and only review posted. There is nothing more I could add to it. So instead I will be a little more personal, hoping maybe this will help persuade you to read this wonderful, oh-so-southern-perfect memoir.
I knew nothing about this book until I heard Diane Rehm interview Dean (this is a woman) Faulkner Wells, the niece of Nobel-in-Literature-winner William Faulkner whose classic "A Rose for Emily" has been one of my favorites to "teach" both in high school and in college writing classes. For a while I thought I wasn't going to be able to make it through that interview because Ms. Wells seemed too nervous and apparently very, very old. But as anyone knows who listens to Diane Rehm on NPR, she understood that Faulkner's niece needed some encouragement, needed to acknowledge she was nervous. So Diane suggested that she read something from the book. (We would later learn that it was Ms. Wells' 75th birthday. And then I laughed so hard when I read the book and discovered that she had lied, that it was not her birthday which had occurred days before. Yes, I said to myself, Dean Faulkner Wells is a true Faulkner!)
Well, that was all it took--her reading. And suddenly the listener could not do anything other than to listen to that voice and her wonderful written language. Let me share what she read so you can enjoy the humor: "Over the generations my family can claim nearly every psychological aberration: narcissim and nymphomania, alcoholism and anorexia, agoraphobia, manic depression, paranoid schizophrenia. There have been thieves, adulterers, sociopaths, killers, racists, liars, and folks suffering from panic attacks and real bad tempers, though to the best of my knowledge we've never had a barn burner or a preacher."
Is that not priceless?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Memoir and interesting story May 11, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not a Faulkner fan, but this book by the great author's niece is incredibly interesting and well written. She shows a side of southern life that no longer exists, but sheltered not only her, but also that of every one William Faulkner loved. A really enjoyable read whether or not you've ever read his works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Entry March 25, 2012
I feel like I've been in a 100 year sleep like that endured by Rip Van Winkle, and now that I've come out of my trance of reading this book, Every Day by the Sun, I was just about to write the author a fan letter and instead I discover that she died a few months after this book came out! I hope she got to hear some praise for it. I don't know how it stands up to other biographies of Williams Faulkner, or if she, Dean Faulkner Wells, shared any of these anecdotes with Faulkner's biographers in the past, but they have certainly made him seem more alive to me. Maybe it's a little sentimental, but for Dean, Faulkner was a Daddy Long Legs whom she knew from birth, and she felt that she owed him everything. It seems as though, well, he had his faults but he took family responsibilities very strongly. So no wonder she doesn't have a single bad word to say about "Pappy." And yet she's not writing with her rose colored glasses on either. Estelle comes across as being fairly weird, though in her final years once she subscribed to Alcoholics Anonymous, she turned gentle and sweet.

Many in the family come across as vivid and real. One exception: I only could vaguely make out what Jill was like. It was as if Dean didn't want to come out and say it, for some reason, but she states only that Jill had a lot to put up with and we get the impression she suffered a lot.

I loved the story about the lending library in Oxford, which must be the dullest town in the world. (And now, according to Dean, the most hideous.) But back in the 1950s, the drugstore stayed open till 10 pm, and it has a rack of paperback mysteries that you could sign in and out for. Erle Stanley Gardner, Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Last living Faulkner tells about her uncle, William -- but not as much...
Last Living Faulkner close to William Faulkner, so there are good insights. Overall, however, there's not as much about the man as I had hoped. Read more
Published 4 months ago by toilet guy
4.0 out of 5 stars I wish he had been my uncle
Dean Faulkner Wells puts a very human face on Willian Faulkner, whom she calls 'Pappy'. We seen him in Dean's eyes as a father figure and certainly someone she could always count... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Joan Roley
3.0 out of 5 stars Pedestrian
This is a harmless book written by William Faulkner's niece and her memories of her uncle - there is no new information or insight into his character or indeed any events or... Read more
Published 7 months ago by RR
4.0 out of 5 stars Faulkner perspective
This was a book club selection. I have read numerous Faulkner books. It was interesting to read about the man.
Published 9 months ago by Kathleen Donnelly
3.0 out of 5 stars Family History
This is a book that tells the history of the Faulkner family of Mississippi. This book is written by the niece of William Faulkner, who was raised by the world famous author after... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Tony Marquise Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual biography
It is a personal view of the Faulkner family told in a conversational way. It is a visit with Dean Faulkner Wells, not a biological story of one's life. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Florence E. Connor
3.0 out of 5 stars Just barely "okay"
The first chapters about Dean's childhood were interesting, but then she veered into the lives of previous generations. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Prunella K.
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting to know the Faulkners
This book is a joy to read and has me looking at reading some Faulkner novels. This intimate narrative of the Faulkner family was hard to put down and now I'm a little lost... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mary Jane Cook
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive
I loved this book. It gives true insight into the life and mind of William Faulkner, and a greater appreciation of his work. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Judy Crump
4.0 out of 5 stars LUCKY PURCHASE
An outstanding close look of the Faulkners and a real boost to information on Americana. The purchase itself was a money saver and the book in excellent condition.
Published 18 months ago by Robert Ybarra
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