Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner” as Want to Read:
One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
William Faulkner was a literary genius, and one of America's most important and influential writers. Drawing on previously unavailable sources -- including letters, memoirs, and interviews with Faulkner's daughter and lovers -- Jay Parini has crafted a biography that delves into the mystery of this gifted and troubled writer. His Faulkner is an extremely talented, obsessiv ...more
ebook, 528 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about One Matchless Time, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about One Matchless Time

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 23, 2008 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book

I approached it with jaded eyes because I didn't particlarly care for Jay Parini's biography of John Steinbeck. That book wasn't bad; it just didn't do a whole lot that was original except it its interpretations of some of Steinbeck's texts. I didn't learn much from Parini's Steinbeck that I hadn't already learned from Jackson J. Benson's biography, published a number of years earlier.

Such was not the case with Parini's 'One Matchless Time," his Faulkner biography. Parini
Charles Weinberg
Parini's hero worship isn't very useful--emphasis on hyper-individuality an (author) origin-ality taking precedent over larger social frameworks. In the conclusion he states, "In a very real sense, Faulkner fathered himself, having seen fatherhood diluted as it passed down" (428) (this conceit of Faulkner as god of Yoknapatawpha is periodically asserted). Creation myths--something out of nothing? Diluted blood? Seems lazy and old fashioned for a biographer. Beyond that, the book was compelling a ...more
Eric Smith
Jul 22, 2011 Eric Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this wonderful biography and want to recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Faulkner. The book reviews each book that he wrote, some in more detail than others, but all of them are covered. It also covers his life in detail - including his hospitalizations due to drinking and his personal struggles - yet it is not an exposé. I have read seven of Faulkers novels and this book has increased my interest in reading all the Mississippi novels, if not ""A Fable,"" ""Pylon,"" and ...more
Jul 31, 2013 Al rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Faulkner makes the reader “go to work,” Conrad Aiken once wrote; that likely sums up one’s own attitude towards Faulkner—one either feels rewarded by putting in “the work” demanded by a Faulkner novel or frustrated by a waste of energy in deciphering and analyzing. I was in the former group in my twenties when an English professor guided me through one of William Faulkner’s most challenging novels, “The Sound and the Fury.” That book and others by Faulkner that I eagerly read helped open up the ...more
Bettye Brown
Jan 02, 2016 Bettye Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read 50 books in 2015, ending on New Year's Eve with this very satisfying biography of William Faulkner. I've always admired Faulkner's work having read The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and others at a much earlier age. Jay Parini's excellent biography has reawakened and deepened my interest in Faulkner. I'm currently rereading The Sound and the Fury and plan to read a number of his short stories in 2016. Before reading Parini, I was not so familiar with Faulkner's reputation as a writ ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For the second time in my life, I'm going to stop reading a book without finishing it. While I realize biographies are written to provide factual information, I'm disappointed with how dry this text has been in the first sixty pages. The only time Parini shows any animation is when he discusses Faulkner's boyhood poetry, coming alive as he illuminates enjambments and rhythm. Otherwise the biography is stale. I'm even more interested in reading The Last Station now, curious as to whether Parini a ...more
Aug 08, 2008 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a whirlwind tour of faulkner's life...not a lot of depth or detail...for that i guess you need to read blotner...
in spite of this i still really enjoyed this book...parini is very reverent to faulkner and his work, which i appreciated, and treats both subjects with obvious tenderness and grace...faulkner's failings as a husband, as a son, as an artist, and as a human being are not paraded before the reader as gleeful comes away from both faulkner's triumphs and failures with
Mike Hovis
Sep 29, 2015 Mike Hovis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to William Faulkner in college by way of his story "A Rose For Emily". Shortly after reading that story I read "the Barn Burning". At that point I was hooked on William Faulkner. Being a southerner I came to appreciate him, as well as Flannery O'Connor and a number of other southern writers. I've read most of William Faulkner's novels and many of his short stories. But until "One Matchless Time" I'd never read an in depth biography about Faulkner.

I'm so glad I read this book. I
Bookmarks Magazine

Faulkner must hold an irresistible allure for biographers, but Joseph Blotner's colossal 1974 biography of the author and the shortage of much new information beyond Blotner's work make all but the most devoted writers move forward. Parini, novelist, poet, and biographer of Robert Frost and John Steinbeck, takes a pragmatic approach, opting for concision and a smattering of new interviews with Faulkner's friends and family. The book weaves Faulkner's story in with chronological analyses of his b

Dec 31, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up in Faulkner country and received an English degree from Ole Miss but failed to become enraptured with "Count No-Count," as the locals called Faulkner in his youth. This book popped off the library shelf, and I thought it time to rectify this oversight. Parini intersperses a chapter of biography with a chapter about Faulkner's writings at that time. While it could be dizzying in the hands of some writers, in this case it is merely dazzling. I came to appreciate Bill F. and share his lov ...more
Thomas Walsh
the beauty of this bio is Mr. Parini has spliced together not only the facts of Faulkner's life, but also the summary of each novel. So, we can understand what "led up to", e.g., "The Unvanquished", a book dedicated to Phil Stone/ We learn, before the summary of the novel, Faulkner loaned money to Stoner. Faulkner loaned him money when the author had none to really give. Then, "The Palms" begins to sell, and then we get a summary of that novel. You see my point: this is a briliant blend of histo ...more
Kevin Kizer
Jun 15, 2009 Kevin Kizer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good to re-read this after having read most of Faulkner's work in the last couple of years. He seems to me to be one of the few brilliant American writers who had a complete career. Hemingway and F. Scott were cut short. What's maddening about Faulkner was his repeated horse-riding injuries and his alcoholism. I lost count of how many times he had to go to a sanatorium to clean up. I mean, we are talking DOZENS of times. I think his stubborness and refusal to stop riding recklessly is as much to ...more
Lauren Albert
A very good biography which makes Faulkner's character sympathetic and very real. It is very readable. It does not attempt to read his fiction as biography though it shows the subtle ways his life and writing intertwine. It is not a book of literary criticism disguised as a biography as so many literary biographies are. He discusses the books but these discussions take a back seat to his narratives of Faulkner's writing of the books and his feelings about public reactions to them. In other words ...more
Jerry Oliver
Aug 11, 2012 Jerry Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful and engaging biography that also included chronological criticism of his work. I really welcomed this because I've only read a couple books by Faulkner but have a desire to read and understand more of this iconic southern writer. Faulkner's stories can be a difficult but very rewarding read and I believe the insight about his life, his background and his geography will make reading his novels all that more enjoyable. Parini did such a good job on this biography that I am loo ...more
Oct 07, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easier reading Parini on Faulkner than reading Faulkner on Lafayette County. (I don't think I could spell the fictional name for wild Bill's native place.) What I learned: Einstein once asked Faulkner, "Where do you get your stories?" Faulkner said, "I hear voices." Einstein smiled and nodded. What else I learned: He had a high-pitched voice, a thirst beyond measure, a love of land and irony, a theme into which he wrote his whole mind's tale. That being the theme of inescapable human struggle. H ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked that Faulkner came off as such a pleasant man of gentile manners when inside, judging from his books and drinking problems, he was hounded by demons. So easy to hide secrets when you're quiet.

I felt this book was a good overview of Faulkner's life but was a bit too sympathetic towards the man. Usually when I walk away from a biography I'm left with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. I was also disappointed that towards the end of his life Faulkner became such a humanist. I'd preferred
John DiConsiglio
The gold standard of Faulkner bios (or so I’m told) is Blotner's 2-volume behemoth. But life is short. Here’s a succinct & accessible alternative. Faulkner’s life lacked the drama—but not the drinking—of Hemingway & Fitzgerald. This bio gives solid insights into the man (aloof & sort of a jerk) & his brilliant but difficult works. If you’re perplexed by the “idiot” Benjy’s narration in Sound & Fury (13 time shifts in one sentence?) & can’t make heads or tails of Absalom, ...more
Chad Walker
Written in a flowing, literary style, it captures the fun, variety and impressiveness of what Faulkner did, if not exactly the way in which he did it. This was the first Faulkner biography I've read, so I don't know exactly how it stacks up, but it certainly seems to cover all the bases. And it really made me want to go back and reread a bunch of his books, which seems like the biggest praise for any author's biography.
May 19, 2009 Yeti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had this one on my bookshelf for awhile. When I finally got around to picking it up, I found myself unable to put it down. Parini provides an in depth psychological portrait of Faulkner the man, and also includes a bit of a critical eye to the individual works that Faulkner published over the course of his career. It's an interesting blend of criticism, biography and history.
Pamela J
Typos and editorial boo-boos aside, Parini's biography is structured for the those familiar with the Faulkner oeuvre. Parini aligns the literature in-progress with the life in-progress, blending both with the scholarship on the man and his writings. Readable. But hope the editors revise the electronic edition ASAP.
Apr 04, 2008 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good account of William Faulkner's life. I don't care for a lot of Faulkner's writing, but some of it is sublime. Any student trying to learn more about individual stories should certainly reference this book.
Apr 12, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Autobiography is one of one rare ones with a mix of novel interpretation and life details. It is not a microscopic look at Faulkner but a big picture. Told chronologically with sections that provide interpretation of each work.
Apr 18, 2013 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true sense of Faulkner as well as his flaws rests in the pages of this well researched and written biography. As a Southerner with ties to Faulkner's home ground, Parini's grasp of his subject is masterful. A book well worth the read.
Doug Wells
I enjoyed this quite a bit, but didn't like the author's tendency to go through each of Faulkner's novels in detail, plot outline, etc. Those parts were more of a review and I was more interested in the biography part of this biography.
Jan 15, 2016 Leif rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Although Mr. Parini has a nice voice, I can't help but think there must be a better biography of Faulkner out there...or maybe William F. really wasn't that interesting. I can't decide. You decide.
Dec 20, 2009 Rory rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely learned as much as I wanted to know about Faulkner, but this book could have used some more editing. Plus, I found the summaries of each of Faulkner's works way too confusing, which prevented me from understanding the critical analysis of them at all.
Shariden Richardson
this book was alright. it focused more on bill flunker rather than will faulkner. its very interesting but hard to follow. i wish it could've focused more on will
Nov 14, 2015 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Doesn't exactly explain his work but lets you know why he wrote what he wrote.
Gayla Bassham
Feb 01, 2011 Gayla Bassham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Not as detailed as the Blotner but more accessible. Not as good as Parini's bio of Frost, though. Made me want to reread The Sound and the Fury.
Jan 19, 2011 W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, accessible biography of Faulkner, one rooted in his fiction. I kept leaving "One Matchless Time" on my bedside table to re-read Faulkner, particularly "Go Down, Moses."
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Valerie Solanas: The Defiant Life of the Woman Who Wrote SCUM (and Shot Andy Warhol)
  • Eudora Welty
  • Anton Chekhov
  • Dostoevsky: A Writer in His Time
  • Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot
  • Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey and His Dream of Mother Africa
  • The Portable Faulkner
  • James Baldwin
  • The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy
  • Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew
  • E. M. Forster: A Life
  • Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington
  • Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art
  • Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World
  • The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism
  • City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara
  • The Broken Tower: The Life of Hart Crane
  • The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
Jay Parini (born 1948) is an American writer and academic. He is known for novels and poetry, biography and criticism.
More about Jay Parini...

Share This Book