Reviewed by TONY BAER:


WILLIAM FAULKNER – Sanctuary. Harrison Smith, hardcover, February 1931. Modern Library, hardcover, 1932. Random House, hardcover, 1958 (revised and corrected). Reprinted as Sanctuary: The Original Text, edited by Noel Polk (Random House, hardcover). Reprinted as Sanctuary: The Corrected Text (Vintage Books, paperback, 1993; this is the edition currently in print). Film adaptations: The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and Sanctuary (1961).

   Temple Drake is a haughty girl, a naughty girl, daughter of a judge.

   She goes to an all-girls school with annoying rules which she breaks with impunity.

   She has a date with Gowan, a dapper dandy, a University of Virginia graduate with a cute convertible.

   Gowan’s a lush. And he insists on stopping at a still in the sticks for some moonshine. It’ll only take a minute.

   But Gowan gets shitfaced, crashes his car, and strands Temple at the still among the yokels.

   The yokels are fine as long as it’s daytime. But come night, the rapscallions all get drunk, horny and rapacious. No female is safe. Least of all Temple Drake. So she hides, unsuccessfully, from the men.

   One of the men, Popeye, takes her and then takes her away, shooting a competing suitor.

   You think Temple Drake is a helpless victim. A faux vamp scared straight from the depths of human depravity. But you’re wrong.

   Popeye, her abductor, is impotent. And Temple taunts him.

   At the end of the day, Temple is the last one standing. All the yokels go onto their reward. And Temple smirks. Mercilessly.


   The book was a real freakin’ slog, I must say. Lots of technical Fauknerian wizardry, switched up POV’s, mélange of styles, cadence, speech patterns.

   Frankly, mental midget that I am, I found it distracting. My understanding is that No Orchids for Miss Blandish is a blatant rip-off. I can’t remember. Orchids wasn’t that memorable. But I guarantee you James Hadley Chase cut to the chase and told the story straight, leaving out the mumbo jumbo.

   Mumbo jumbo aside, Temple Drake is a great character. The story, when there’s a story being told, is gripping, white knuckling, and fearful. I’ll remember the story too. It’s a good story with a telling that gives you the vision of each character, with all the ramps and curls and squiggly lines of real life consciousness. It just wasn’t that fun deciphering it. It was work. But worth it.