Letter to Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Hi, Ms. Tucker.
Just wanted to let you know that this morning I was reading "Absalom, Absalom!" when it suddenly occurred to me that Strom Thurmond is Thomas Sutpen.
Both are engines of racism: Sutpen tries to vindicate an incident from his youth in which he is demeaned by a black servant by forging together a "design," a dream of a sort of white dynasty where he and his kin can rule over black folk, the very kind of dream which Thurmond stood for in 1948 as the candidate of racial separation. Both share the same obstacle -- a relationship with a woman whose blood is not 100 percent white. In the book, Sutpen is destroyed; in life, Thurmond dies a hero of sorts to many, his secret buried until months later. Both do however have as a legacy the opposite of what they wanted: generations of mixed blood -- the very prospect of which Dixiecrat Thurmond used to fan the flames of fear in rednecks far and wide.
So I'm thinking to myself what a brilliant connection I've made and how I can maybe get some kind of an article out of it -- only to Google the words "Sutpen" and "Thurmond" and find that you figured all this out a month ago.
Damn your well-readness!