Monday, June 02, 2014

Watching a Guy Type

I was sitting here in my office at home, reading a Spenser novel by Robert B. Parker that Ace Atkins loaned me, when something in the book - I can't figure out what, though I went back and looked - reminded me with a start what I meant to do today: go over to Faulkner's house, where an artist named Tim Youd is retyping THE SOUND AND THE FURY. The sky was bright blue when I left, but on the very short walk it clouded up considerably and the birds were tweeting weirdly too, in my estimation. By the time I was making my way up Faulkner's walk, I felt like I was in a really different place. Then when I reached the porch steps I could hear typing coming from inside! It gave me a ghostly feeling. So I opened the door and there was the guy sitting at a replica of Faulkner's desk, retyping THE SOUND AND THE FURY on a replica of Faulkner's typewriter. I didn't want to interrupt him but he said talking to people was part of his thing. His plan is to type 100 American novels over five years. He's already done 25. He said he mostly does it in Los Angeles because that's where he lives. He got a good review, he said, for typing Bukowski's POST OFFICE in the parking lot of the post office where Bukowski sorted mail for 12 years. I almost mentioned Faulkner working in the post office here (which he quit because, if I am recalling correctly, he said he didn't like being "at the beck and call of every S.O.B. with 2 cents for a stamp") but I didn't. When he said he was working on the final two Chandler novels back home (having already typed the first five) I did mention that Faulkner co-wrote the screenplay of THE BIG SLEEP - no news to Mr. Youd, of course, who said that as a side project he is going to retype that screenplay at Musso & Frank's, where both Faulkner and Chandler used to drink. Which reminded Bill Griffith that they're going to have a mint julep party when Mr. Youd finishes retyping THE SOUND AND THE FURY. And that reminded Bill Griffith of a Faulkner detective story I have not read, in which the murderer is discovered because of his inability to make a decent mint julep. Mr. Youd talked about what he considered the disintegration of Philip Marlowe's code of honor throughout the Chandler novels. He also said that PLAYBACK, the final one, is a lot better than people say. It's the only one I haven't read yet, so that's good news. Of course, Mr. Youd also likes it, he says, because it's just 160 pages long. For easy typing! So go by and watch him type (he's there all week) and give him a friendly hello.