Memphis, Tenn.: A Twist on Tradition

With a nod to Faulkner, an author creates his own mythic town

It is nearly impossible for any Southern writer to avoid the specter of William Faulkner. The world he created in Yoknapatawpha County, perhaps the best-known plot of literary real estate, exerts its influence over the aspirations of the region's writers and the expectations of readers and critics. It could therefore be construed as an act of either bravado or foolishness that Randall Kenan, who lives in Memphis and was raised in North Carolina, has also constructed a fictional Southern locale, a swampy speck called Tims Creek, N.C. "I could have run," says Kenan, 37, of the inevitable comparisons, "but I'd be...

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