Rick Moreland Reads a Building
By Aaron Britt / Published by Dwell
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One of the joys of visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to see Rick and Susan Moreland's house for one of our October features was chatting books with Rick. He's the head of the English department at Lousiana State University, and before long he was describing a recent reading of Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go with a group of science students. At dinner that night, looking down on the Mississippi River, we discussed Twain's shaky relationship with James Fenimore Cooper (my wife loves Twain's takedown of Cooper's The Deerslayer; I can't much see the use of it), and as Rick drove me to the bus station the next day we jawed over Frost's the subversive wit. I got back in touch with Rick yesterday to see if he'd muse on architecture, literature, and the design of his house. Here's what he said:

"Good question. Nothing came to mind when I got this earlier, and I didn't have much time to think about it then. 

"Now I'm thinking of the working title—Dark House—for one of my favorite novels, Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! The novel features a boy who's turned away from the front door of such a (plantation) house, is mystified by the hidden life of a planter in such a house, and later drives a gang of slaves and a French architect to build such a house, thinking he'll be able to welcome the next boy in. But he ends up instead barring two of his children from the house, and three of his other children die or burn to death in the house. 

Moreland House

Moreland House

"Maybe that novel has something to do with our building a house that few would ever mistake for a Dark House or a Southern plantation house, characterized in Faulkner by its forbidding front door. Our own front door is almost all glass, and it's one of several views straight through the house and out the other side."

Thanks, professor!

Aaron Britt

@aaronbritt

Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.

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