Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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William Faulkner & Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty

While not a contributor to the mystery genre, Eudora Welty was a constant reader and avowed fan of the form. She contributed an introduction to the 1969 suspense anthology Hanging by a Thread, and numerous Welty blurbs appear on the dust jackets of English mysteries written by Andrew Garve, Michael Gilbert, Patrick McGinley, Margaret Yorke, and others. Her closest connection to the field was Kenneth Millar (a.k.a. Ross MacDonald). Welty wrote a favorable, front page review of Macdonald’s The Underground Man for the New York Times Book Review. Macdonald returned the favor by dedicating his novel Sleeping Beauty to Welty. The Faulkner Investigation, a 1985 limited edition, brings Faulkner, Welty, and MacDonald together in an examination of their “triangular literary and personal affinities.”

Indeed murder is brutal. But there is a wonder to the human act which can only be approached through the mind, for it lies in the mind -- in the mind of the murderer or that of his victim or possibly, more often than we know, in the peculiar combination of the two minds meeting. Murder’s fascination for the reader stems from wonder, and has nothing to do with what De Quincey in scorn expressed as “a knife, a purse, and a dark lane.” The fascination of Joan Kahn’s Hanging by a Thread is the thread itself -- that thread of human frailty on which, so often and so literally, life and death depend.

-- Eudora Welty’s “Introduction” in Hanging by a Thread (1969).

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