Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 5:00pm
In his second book, Allen Wildmon has taken incidents from the pages of Mississippi history and turned them into a gripping novel of passion, illicit sex, and murder. A statue of his main character Colonel William C. Falkner towers over all others in the Ripley, Mississippi cemetery. Wildmon, rendering Falkner's story in fictional terms, shows his readers why Falkner was a figure larger than life and why his flamboyant story is worth telling. Falkner, great grandfather of Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner, was a man who led a dangerous and adventurous life, defied law and convention, and in the end was gunned down by an old friend and former business partner. The first chapter introduces Falkner and Richard Thurmond, his friend-turned enemy. Then as Thurmond holds a cocked gun in Falkner's face -- Wildmon uses flashbacks to indicate how Falkner invited his own murder. Here are some of the incidents from which Wildmon has fashioned his gripping narrative: As a young man, Falkner promises a convicted murderer that he will hire a lawyer for the condemned man in exchange for the literary rights to his story. Falkner sells the story but reneges on his promise to hire the lawyer and pockets all the money. The man is hanged. During the Mexican War, after a barroom brawl over a Mexican woman, Falkner is shot in the left hand, losing three fingers. He later claims that he was wounded by Mexican soldiers and receives disability pay and an honorable discharge. Falkner's son by his second wife has an affair with a married woman and is killed by the husband. Falkner tells the man his son deserved shooting. Falkner has an affair with the daughter of a friend, a sixteen-year-old girl who becomes pregnant and has to marry another man. Falkner marries a woman much beloved by another man, who provokes a fight to the death. Falkner kills him with a knife and then fatally shoots a man who attempts to avenge his dead friend. During the Civil War, Falkner and a partner, Dick Thurmond, make a fortune buying and selling food and supplies behind enemy lines. Eventually their friendship will turn to hatred. Falkner cohabits with his black slave woman, with whom he has a child. During Reconstruction, Falkner and Thurmond are partners in building a railroad with a cash bonus promised by the state if a deadline is met. Falkner bribes the Mississippi Attorney General to approve the bonus when state regulations for the bonus aren't met. Falkner and Thurmond quarrel over the future of the railroad. These are just some of the incidents that comprise the life of this 19th-century figure whose real life is more extravagant than fiction. William Faulkner dealt with a few of these incidents in Sartoris and The Unvanquished, but even Faulkner, known for his preoccupation with the sordid and romantic past of Mississippi, doesn't tell the whole story. Allen Wildmon does in this short and exciting novel.
160 Courthouse Sq