September 25th, 2006 | Published in Google Books
The other day I was looking for a favorite short story -- William Faulkner’s very twisted “A Rose for Emily” -- when I came across a number of books about Faulkner’s life. Intrigued, I started browsing. Pretty soon, I had a new list of books to read, a richer sense of a writer I’ve always admired, and some new-found Faulkner trivia.
For instance, did you know that Faulkner’s original last name was Falkner and that he added the “u” as a tribute to his ancestors? Or that “Billy” got lonely when he left home for the first time at age 20 and wrote regular letters to his parents that were both sentimental and newsy? (Check out this one about a birthday cake his mother sent him.) Seems like a far cry from the man who went on not only to become a Nobel Prize-winning novelist, but also an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter, working on adaptations of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and to Have Not. Howard Hawks' story about convincing Faulkner and Hemingway (two well-known egotists) to work together is a classic.
One of the cool things about using Google Book Search is that it not only helps you find books by the world’s great authors, it also helps you find books about them. Try a search on one of your favorites — you might be surprised by what you find.