Hanging Out at William Faulkner’s House With Neko Case

This year’s edition of the Oxford American‘s music issue is a monster, with features on artists from the Residents to Arthur Lee to Jerry Lee Lewis and on and on. There’s plenty I need to get to, but I immediately gravitated to the piece on Neko Case by Jack Pendarvis (who wrote one of my favorite novels of the year). Pendarvis hung out with Case and her band for a few days, and though there wasn’t much drama, they did get to hang out at William Faulkner‘s home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford, Miss., where everybody got excited about Bill’s typewriter:

[Pedal steel guitarist Jon] Rauhouse ran over and started banging on the keys. Banging on them urgently! The hammers sounded like a machine gun. It was the one time I saw [Rowan Oak curator] Bill Griffith get ruffled. He made suffering gestures. He swallowed something. He stepped forward and in the nicest way imaginable, indeed with no discernable effort, sort of willed Rauhouse to stop.

“I should take your picture sitting at the typewriter,” said Neko. She meant me.

I sat down but couldn’t make myself touch the instrument. Everything about it seemed backwards: Neko Case taking my picture, me sitting there. I was having difficulty throwing myself into the experience. I felt like a rubber glove.

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