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The Fort Worth Register, July 24, 1897. A rare instance of journalistic skepticism vis a vis the deadly bite of the BGN.
Our correspondent is not wrong about the prevalence of these stories in the Southern. I’ve got more BGN anecdotes than I know what to do with, especially since most are exactly the same. I’ll stick to posting the outliers. The reference to “enraged [blue gum] nurses” is intriguing: I haven’t run into that trope yet. But it does establish that there were accused female BGs after all.

I have no idea where the mule enters into this.

“By his own class” I take to mean other BGNs.

So it turns out that William Faulkner works the whole blue gum angle in The Sound and the Fury, which novel I must confess I have never read. That’s just the kind of lightweight I am. I’m only as God made me.


  1. Is it possible that we were separated at birth by a revenge-seeking nursemaid or Satan-worshipping matron? I too have eschewed Faulkner from my youth upward, and I say it without shame. I was too busy reading *Elsie Venner* and *Leslie Goldthwaite’s Girlhood* and this one epistolary novel about a woman getting a North Dakota divorce (bet you didn’t know that ND was our Reno before Reno was our Reno!).

    • Could well be, sis.While we wait for the DNA evidence to get processed, here are some further diagnostics: I’ve never gotten further than a page or two into anything by Faulker epigone Toni Morrison. Plus I’ve never understood the point of Tennessee Williams. His stuff always strikes me as failed versions of Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? And Williams definitely never wrote anything as good as Baby Jane screenwriter Lukas Heller’s majestic two-line precis of the Melian Dialogue.

      (bet you didn’t know that ND was our Reno before Reno was our Reno!)

      Did so. It was your standard Mars Needs Women gambit of a Western geographical armpit desperate to generate revenue and attract chicks.

  2. Someone once gave me an posthumously published unedited Faulkner manuscript. Apparently, a whole bunch of Yawknapatuafa (sp?) novels were extracted from a single 1000+ page ms.

    I lasted a page and a half.

    I finished Beloved, though. So I win!

    • W.P. Mayhew, on the other hand, is a Southern writer of indisputable genius.

      I finished Beloved, though. So I win!

      I could have managed it in my youth. In my teens and 20s, sir, I had eyeballs of steel. It’s cover once cracked, a book was going down. The Ticket That Exploded? Nova Express? The work of a mere afternoon apiece. So no middlebrow ghost story about infanticide on the bayou would have slowed me down.

      Later, of course, I realized I was gonna die one day, and became a bit more selective.

  3. Dang it! My knowledge of North Dakota’s raffish past was formerly unequalled in my (small)social circle.

    I stopped reading *Beloved* at the chain-gang rape scene–I was a tender-hearted girl once, though you’d never know it now.

    • Well see I went to high school up Winnipeg way, where a certain amount of ND zeitgeist spills over the border.

  4. I have a theory: perhaps the blue gums are a symptom of some kind of toxic bacteria in the mouth, to which the BGN is immune. Biting causes infected saliva to enter the wound, leading to blood poisoning.

    Also, I don’t think I’ve ever read The Sound and the Fury either. It seems like the kind of thing that would have been on my high school English reading list, but I have no memory of having read it.

    • Jackie of Finland, you are to BGNs as Robert Neville to vampires, and I applaud the Enlightenment spirit here. But there are some phenomena for which puny human logic cannot account.

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