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A Death in the Family by James Agee

A Death in the Family (original 1957; edition 1998)

by James Agee

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1,955363,481 (3.91)122
Title:A Death in the Family
Authors:James Agee
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1st Vintage International ed, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:20th century, american literature, death, family, pulitzer prize, southern literature, tennessee

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A Death in the Family by James Agee (1957)


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Just finished reading A Death in the Family James Agee's novel for one of my face to face book groups.

Knoxville Tennessee. 1915. Husband and Wife and two small children and their extended family. Father goes out one night for a drive in his "Tin Lizzie" and dies on the way back. That’s it.

Hadn't read Agee before this and was just blown away by the craftsmanship of the writing - beautiful, simple, intense, poetic.

He has the gift to be able to show at once the grown up writer telling the story and the six year old boy living through it.

Don't think I've ever read a book that so clearly delineated the mind of a child dealing with all the strangeness and terror of a child's life.

Nice to read a book that shows a person of faith - a devout Southern Christian - honestly, simply and without caricature or grotesquery.

He gets the voices of the people right too -- what is said and what is left unsaid.

The last scene of the boy going to his father's funeral is haunting and memorable.

Glad I read it. What a writer. Wow. ( )
1 vote magicians_nephew | Mar 10, 2014 |
The writing is breathtaking. This life he tells is real. It is about people who are like my family. I love the inside view he has of everything. He tells our story, his story, with no apologies or qualifying. He puts words together like nobody else I have read. He talks about feelings, emotions, ideas, impressions that are so familiar. ( )
  AnneSteph | Nov 14, 2013 |
A fine novel dealing with the reality of death. The POV is of the son of a family trying to survive the death of his father. The characters are finely developed, and the setting, as well. The initial sequence talking of watering a lawn with a hand-held hose in a summer evening is breath-taking! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Oct 13, 2013 |
Not a lot of action, but interesting characters, and a convincing picture of American life in 1915. I can see why this is a classic though... the writing is very powerful, and a great example of how a good writer shows instead of tells. ( )
  BirdBrian | Aug 8, 2013 |
I was reading all the Pulitzer fiction prize-winning novels when I read this. I found it suitably moving. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 29, 2013 |
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We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please do not combine with "A death in the family : a restoration of the author's text"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375701230, Paperback)

Forty years after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. For in his lyrical, sorrowful account of a man's death and its impact on his family, Agee painstakingly created a small world of domestic happiness and then showed how quickly and casually it could be destroyed.

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose.

"An utterly individual and original book...one of the most deeply worked out expressions of human feeling that I have ever read."--Alfred Kazin, New York Times Book Review

"It is, in the full sense, poetry....The language of the book, at once luminous and discreet...remains in the mind."--New Republic

"People I know who read A Death in the Family forty years ago still talk about it. So do I. It is a great book, and I'm happy to see it done anew."--Andre Dubus, author of Dancing After Hours and Meditations From A Moveable Chair

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:19 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly, leaving his wife, brother, and young son to deal with his sudden death.… (more)

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