‘Faulkner’s Southern Style’: My Latest at No Man Walks Alone

Faulkner wasn't hesitant to blow his own horn.

Faulkner wasn’t hesitant to blow his own horn.

The greatest American writer? The case can certainly be made for Yoknapatawpha’s own William Faulkner. Whether you like the Nobel Prize winner’s complex writing style or not you should certainly enjoy his Southern clothing style:

Although always teetering on the brink of financial ruin, Faulkner projected the image of the Southern squire. This was especially true of Faulkner during his years as University of Virginia writer-in-residence late in life. In the more aristocratic Piedmont South, Faulkner let the Anglophilia that first appeared during his Canadian RAF days have free rein.

Check out the full article at No Man Walks Alone.

Off the Shelf: Flannery O’Connor’s Cartoons (& Her New Stamp)

Flannery - Twas the Night

I looked up yesterday at the local Half Price Books to see a display of Flannery O’Connor’s The Cartoons. Despite being a fan of all things Flannery, somehow I had missed this volume’s release in 2012. But the remainder list is the way of (most) all books, and also the blessing to all patient bargain book shoppers.

Flannery Cartoons Cover

The cartoons were done by student Flannery O’Connor at Peabody High School and Georgia State College for Women mostly as linoleum cuts. They are funny–some more so than others, to be sure–and touch on typical student themes like the injustice of writing themes over Thanksgiving break or the joys of summer break.

Flannery - Teachers

We even find that Flannery O’Connor predicted Twitter:

Flannery - tweeet

The book contains an introduction by legendary illustrator and engraver Barry Moser and an essay by Kelly Gerald placing the illustrations into biographical context.

Published at a price of $22.99, you can buy it at Amazon for $18.16, but don’t pay even that discounted price. I bought a new copy at Half Price Books for $6.99, and the ever bountiful Hamilton Book will sell it to you for only $4.95 (plus $3.90 shipping). No Flannery fan can be without it.

Flannery stamp

As an addendum, Flannery received her own stamp last week, an event widely celebrated. Flannery youngSome have claimed the portrait of O’Connor on the stamp actually doesn’t look like Flannery O’Connor. However, the photo of a young collegiate Flannery O’Connor used in The Cartoons is clearly the photo used as a basis for the postal stamp portrait. Lovers of Flannery, Southern literature, and good writing in general shouldn’t look a gift stamp in the mouth.

‘The Well-Dressed Bookshelf’ & the Return of the Physical Book at No Man Walks Alone

Burke's Works

Books are often a topic of interest here at Pinstripe Pulpit, so it’s no surprise I might export such concerns elsewhere. You can read my new post ‘The Well-Dressed Bookshelf’ at No Man Walks Alone:

Research now suggests that we retain more from deep reading when we read from paper rather than a screen. Reading a physical book is not only visual, but also tactile. We feel the weight of the book. We turn a page. We remember a passage in relation to its placement on the page.

And if you’re going to have physical books then they at least ought to look good on the shelf. Hop over to No Man Walks Alone to read the entire post.

‘In Search of Madras’: New at No Man Walks Alone

Madras shirts

Some years back I found myself in Old Madras looking for its eponymous cloth. Tracking it down was harder than you might think. I write about that search and the wonderful homespun Indian cloth madras, a summer necessity, at No Man Walks Alone.

I stood in Nalli in Chennai asking a group of employees if they had any “madras cloth.” Nalli is perhaps the largest retailer of textiles in India, and since the cloth I asked for is named for the very city I was in—Chennai is the modern name for old Madras—surely I had come to the right place.

Read the whole article at No Man Walks Alone.

Blogs by Kentuckians: Four to Consider

Woodford Spears & Sons Feedmill in Paris, Kentucky from The Kentucky Junker

Woodford Spears & Sons Feedmill in Paris, Kentucky from The Kentucky Junker

Since removing to Kentucky last year it has been a pleasing thing to reorient to a Bluegrass state of mind (or is that commonwealth of mind?). In my decade long absence there has been a renaissance of Kentucky self-consciousness, which I believe is a good thing. I started my own Kentucky-centric blog over at Eat Kentucky last year (visit early and often), and have enjoyed discovering some other Kentucky blogs. Below are four that I think are worth your time.

J.D. Bentley writes at Bourbon & Tradition where manly themes meet, well tradition and Kentucky. He is an admirer of my old boss Russell Kirk, which is a mighty fine recommendation. Imagine if Hemingway came from Kentucky and was a Tory. Currently he is matrimonial exile in Brazil, but plans to return to Kentucky as soon as practicable. Friendly caution, there is some, shall we say, manly language used.

Take a look at Bentley’s post ‘A Roman Emperor’s Advice to Justin Beiber’

Peter Brackney runs the local history site Kaintuckeean, the name drawn from an early form of the Indian word that became “Kentucky.” Peter is an attorney, although don’t hold that against him, and the author of the recent book Lost Lexington. Peter is a board member of the Blue Grass Trust, an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving historic buildings and landmarks in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region.

Read Brackney’s ‘A Lost Fall Tradition: The Haggins’ Huge Party at Elmendorf’

Kevin, the Kentucky Junker, is a thrifter with a keen eye and mad thrifting skills. His blog is photography driven, but if you like old stuff and the treasure hunt of discovering lost treasures. When I find Kevin I may or may not be the guy following him around to learn his thrift route. Just take the time to browse the site. It’s a treasure trove.

Courtney Hall, the Bourbon Soaked Mom, is based in Hazard in eastern Kentucky. The blog focuses on local history and also thrifting and such. Growing up in bordering Clay County, Courtney writes a lot of interest to me. Courtney, I discovered, is also the daughter of my first cousin’s husband’s brother. That’s one of the most Kentucky things that can ever happen to you.

Read Courtney’s ‘Glory Days: A Story of Hazard’

Do you have any favorite Kentucky blogs?


At NMWA: Wodehouse & the Dandy Set

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

There’s really no one more fun to read than P.G. Wodehouse, known to most as the author of the Jeeves & Wooster series so brilliantly adapted by Fry & Laurie for the BBC.

My latest at No Man Walks Alone is ‘P.G. Wodehouse: Comic Laureate of the Dandy Set’:

One might expect the author of nearly one hundred books over a seventy-five year career to produce checkout-line boilerplate. But despite his own self-description as “a writing machine,” P.G. Wodehouse earned the name “The Master” from none other than Evelyn Waugh. Decades later Douglas Adams said, “I aspire to write like P.G. Wodehouse,” a wish one can easily detect in Adams’s work.

Wodehouse began his writing career at the dawn of the 20th Century, and soon introduced one of his most enduring characters, Psmith (the P is silent, of course), the first of Wodehouse’s classic dandies. Through Psmith we are also introduced to Blandings Castle, a fictional setting Wodehouse returned to time and again, and currently the subject of the BBC television series Blandings.

Click on over to No Man Walks Alone to read the whole thing.

Wodehouse illustration

Scarves: The Warm Elegance of Double-Sided Scarves

Scarf stack

Outside of the all silk, and mostly decorative, opera scarf, the double-sided scarf is perhaps the most elegant. But don’t all scarves have two sides, you ask? Yes, certainly, but double-sided scarves typically are made by sewing a layer of silk (or, in the past, rayon) onto usually a solid scarf of wool or cashmere, thus the sides are not only different in design but are also made of different material.

The silk side of such double-sided scarves traditionally have been printed foulards, sometimes ancient madder, with paisleys, pines, and dots. I recently picked up a vintage Cisco scarf from the legendary Washington, D.C. clothier Julius Garfinckel & Co., which has striped repp silk rather than the typical foulard.

Cisco scarf

Double-sided scarves are meant particularly for wearing with dressier overcoats the lapels on which typically leave an open V-shape at the chest. Scarves are perfect for plugging this hole, providing useful warmth with splash of color in what typically are long, solid gray, navy, or tan coats.

Unlike the standard wool or cashmere scarf, the double-sided scarf’s silk side offers a more elegant, dressier look while providing the wool/cashmere warmth against the body. And although silk can be cool to the touch, it actually gives a practical double layer of warmth on a double-sided scarf. Silk, while often thin, is quite insulating.

Brooks Brothers scarf

Drake's scarf

Double-sided scarves are not easily found these days. British scarf and tie maker Drake’s usually offers a selection. And although the price is not for the faint of heart, the quality from Drake’s is always unquestioned. As is often the case, turning to the secondary market will save one quite a bit of money. England’s Tootal and Sammy are names frequently associated with vintage double-sided scarf, although both use alternatives for the silk side, usually rayon or Tricel. Vintage scarves from traditional men’s clothiers like Brooks Brothers will turn up from time to time as well.

For those times when you pull out the dressier overcoat, a double-sided scarf is an elegant, and rarely seen, option to have in your wardrobe.

scarf group

Off the Shelf: Wendell Berry’s ‘The Wild Geese’ From Black Swan Books

Readers of Pinstripe Pulpit well know that I am an admirer of the writing of Wendell Berry, the letterpress printing of Gray Zeitz at Larkspur Press, and the bookselling of Michael Courtney at Black Swan Books. It is always a happy confluence when the three come together.

Wild Geese title

This past year, 2014, was the 30th anniversary of Lexington’s Black Swan Books. I recently wrote a feature article at KYForward about Michael’s commemoration of the event with a new Larkspur Press letterpress printed broadside of a poem by Wendell Berry.

A broadside is a single sheet of paper printed on one side and meant for framing. The anniversary broadside features a poem by Kentucky writer Wendell Berry whose works are a specialty of Courtney. Black Swan’s broadsides are printed using century-old equipment by Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press in Monterey, Kentucky. The work of Berry and Zeitz is in such demand that half of the copies of the anniversary broadside were sold within the first two weeks.

The broadside edition of ‘The Wild Geese’ is limited to only 150 copies, each of which is signed by Wendell Berry and numbered. Broadsides also serve as celebration of letterpress printing itself. You can see and feel the texture of the mouldmade paper, the bite of the type in the dampened printed paper.

Courtney Wild Geese

And with limited editions printed from handset type, there is a natural scarcity. Like true “first editions” of old, once the type is broken down and returned to its drawer, that exact edition can never be recreated. Thus a moment in time is captured–preserved–but it cannot be remade.

“What we need is here.”

Wild Geese colophon

Scarves: Feel Like a Schoolboy Again

J Press schoolboy

I like scarves. They’re utilitarian, of course. Wrap one around your neck to keep off the cold and wind. But they’re also a way to sneak some color and pattern into even a casual ensemble. I think I’ve been hooked since Tom Baker wore his in old Doctor Who episodes when I was a kid.

Scarves come in variety of types, but one of the most traditional and classic is the schoolboy scarf. Schoolboy scarves are so called because of their association with colleges and prep schools. They are made of vertical stripes of contrasting woven wool, typically incorporating an institution’s signature colors, sometimes with an added school crest.

The primary maker of the traditional schoolboy scarf is Cambridge, England based Luke Eyres. The company says the scarves were born during wartime privation, proper wool yarn being unavailable for proper knit scarves. They developed the sewn vertical stripe design using woven wool fabric, and offered it to Cambridge’s colleges in lieu of the knit versions. When World War II was over, the colleges opted to keep the new schoolboy scarves.

Schoolboy labels

Soon other colleges began adopting them, including colleges and universities across the pond in the United States, particularly Ivy League institutions. The legendary J. Press, the shop so closely associated with Ivy League prep, became the go-to shop for American schoolboy scarves. It’s still a signature item for them.

Not everyone’s alma mater has an official schoolboy scarf, but I give you permission to cheat and choose one that uses your school’s colors. I found that a small private school in Connecticut used the colors of my own University of Kentucky in its schoolboy scarf, and grabbed one during a seasonal sale from J. Press several years ago. It’s a favorite during the winter months.

There few places to buy a quality schoolboy scarf. In the U.S., O’Connell’s Clothing is a reliable option, and seems to source from Luke Eyres. (Also take a look at Smart TurnoutRyder & Amies, and The Tie & Scarf Company.) Other classic designs such Argyle & Sutherland are also available in schoolboy scarf design, so these days the options are limitless. Luke Eyres will even make one up to your custom order. 

With the cold weather of winter ahead of us, schoolboy scarves are a great way to show loyalty to the alma mater while adding a bit of traditional style as well.

Schoolboy stack

The Sport of Kings: My Latest at No Man Walks Alone

Polo - vintage

The word “polo” is inextricably linked to menswear, but there’s more to the connection than a ubiquitous clothing brand with an easily recognizable logo. The game of polo, one of the world’s oldest and most venerable sports, has given us classic and iconic additions to menswear. My post exploring three of polo’s most important contributions is now up at No Man Walks Alone:

The button-down shirt collar, that most quintessentially American classic style detail, was actually borrowed from English polo players, whom John E. Brooks saw using buttons to keep their collars from flying up during play. In 1896 he introduced this new button down collar in his family’s New York shop, Brooks Brothers, and called it the polo collar. Style icons from Fred Astaire to Andy Warhol to Gianni Agnelli were famously devoted to the polo collar.

You can read it all at ‘The Sport of Kings: Polo’s Contribution to Menswear.’