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The Reivers (1962)

by William Faulkner

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2,153276,352 (3.64)125
Warm, humorous, poignant story about a boy's loss of innocence and a memoir and loving re-creation of turn-of-the-century Dixie.
  1. 00
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (TheDivineOomba)
    TheDivineOomba: The Reivers by William Faulkner has a similar feel as Cold Sassy, with a similar leading character. But the Reivers is a bit more dark and has a more solid story.
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Ezt a regényt a szerző jókedvében teremtette. Azt hiszem, ebből a műből válik nyilvánvalóvá, hogy Faulkner szerette azt a mélydélt, aminek csúfságába oly sokszor nyomta bele az orrunkat. Karosszék-regény ez a felnőtté válásról, nagypapa szájába adva, egy hosszú mese a soha-vissza-nem-térő múltról – az eltűnt idő az eszköz, ami megteremti a könyv finom nosztalgikus alaptónusát. A legkönnyebben feldolgozható Faulkner-írások egyike, talán mert nem a biblikus atmoszférához nyúl vissza, hanem Huckleberry Finn-hez: épp csak annyi balladai homály van benne, hogy elmélyítse a mese mágikus realitását. Mert ez végtére is mese, mégpedig meghökkentően szép kópémese ellopott autóról, ellopott lóról, bordélyházról – és részben pont az a meghökkentő, hogy Faulkner ezekben a dolgokban is megtalálja a szépséget. Belenyúl a sűrűjébe, gumikesztyű nélkül, kiemel valamit, és láss csodát: csillog. Mert úgy fest, Faulkner ehhez is ért. Nem úgy zseniális, mint mondjuk a Fiam, Absolom! – hanem máshogy. De éppúgy zseniális. ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
I figure if I am going to 3-star a Pulitzer Prize winning Faulkner novel I’ve got some ‘splainin to do.

I have a checkered history with picaresque novels. I could not finish Don Quixote but The Adventures of Augie Marsh is one of my favorite books. I loved The Goldfinch but Kim almost turned me off reading forever. It’s a tricky balancing act creating over-the-top stories that are not irritating and that line is in a different place for every reader. Perhaps the best-known American master of the picaresque novel is Mark Twain, and from the moment this book started Twain was all I could think of. If I had read this book without attribution and was asked to guess the author I would not have thought twice before naming Mr. Clemens. I have a bit of a love-hate thing going with Twain as well. I love Huck Finn, and have read it half a dozen times, including two reads with my child. I neither love nor hate Tom Sawyer (which I had 4-starred here on GR, but that is inaccurate) and I despised Pudd’nhead Wilson. Pudd’nhead is the first book I can recall hurling against the wall when it was assigned in my 1st year lit class. This book had elements of all three of those books, and in the end my heart tells me this is a weak 3-star. I would be remiss if I did not mention another book it held a VERY strong resemblance to – Amor Towles The Lincoln Highway was the Northeastern version of this Mississippi tale. My friends who did not like that book, (I actually did, though I did not adore it) you ought to steer clear of this one.

The very basic outline of the story is strong. Our band of merry reivers includes a buffoon (Boon), a resourceful black man (Ned, who was part of the same family as the white characters but this is Mississippi in the early 20th so black and white people being part of the same family meant something different from what it would now), and 11 year old Lucious Priest, (which is a fine name!) who was left in their care while his parents attend a funeral. The reivers steal a car, sell it for a horse, hang out in a brothel where they make friends aplenty, somehow get the horse to another town where they race the horse using questionable tactics, and get the car back. This is Faulkner’s last book (the Pulitzer was awarded posthumously) and it mostly reads like the ramblings of an old man. Faulkner was only 63 when he finished this book but he sounds like celebrated old crank Andy Rooney. Here we have Faulkner recalling a moment when the world began to change from horses to cars and trains. He is telling that story of change 40 years later as the country lives through another seismic shift. This is written immediately in the wake of the decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and at a time when Kennedy was in the White House. Faulkner would have heard that MLK was championing the Second Emancipation Proclamation and would have watched peaceful marchers attacked by police in segregated Albany GA (we say Al-Binny down south btw.) Perhaps most impactful, he likely watched out his office window when riots erupted on the campus of Ole’ Miss when snarling white folks fought to block James Meredith, a black Air Force veteran, from attending classes.

I think Faulkner was a relatively good man (well, he prodigiously and publicly cheated on his wife, but I don’t judge) who knew he was wrong in opposing desegregation. I believe he publicly said something along the lines of it being a good idea that should not be forced. I expect as he was watching the racist melee out of his office window at Ole Miss he had some feelings to work through. He saw the parallel, the fear of change that to him was reminiscent of the resistance to the necessary changes wrought by the industrial/automotive age he saw as a boy. I suspect for all his “go slow” public statements about desegregation he knew that without force we would never see desegregation. I think I see what he was doing here, and it is intended to be a noble thing. But the book still didn’t work for me. The fact that this, his last novel, showed nostalgia for travel by horse is ironic in light of the fact that his death immediately after finishing the book was caused by injuries sustained after a fall from a horse. Resist change at your peril.

A couple notes: I am a Faulkner fan. I really love his books I have read from the 20s and 30’s but I don't connect with Yoknapatawpha County and I don't think his stabs at the comic novel worked. I was not crazy about this, and I stopped reading Wild Palms after perhaps 25 pages because it didn’t work for me. Also, the N-word is tossed around casually and frequently here, and the black characters are portrayed in stereotypical ways for the most part - they really know how to party and are content to live lives in the shadow of the white folks who have so much less fun than they do. Women fare no better, though he acknowledges that most all of the women's lives are made worse by men. Mostly the women we spend time with are hookers with hearts of gold and deep desires to do men’s laundry and have sex with other men to get their chosen men out of trouble. No question it is offensive, at least to me. That said, I imagine it reflects his memory of how white people thought and talked in the early 20th in Mississippi, and I expect it was not a wholly inaccurate recollection. Faulkner certainly had more information to work with than I when he made these choices.

Okay, I will shut up now. Hopefully, this is enough to let you know if you should read this one. ( )
  Narshkite | Jun 15, 2022 |
This book is fairly straightforward for Faulkner and has lots of humorous picaresque moments. It basically involves the misadventures of a youth and two stablehands (one white, one black) who steal a car and drive to Memphis for some fun. ( )
  stevepilsner | Jan 3, 2022 |
Fiction
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
A Book That Takes Place In Your Hometown

Finally, another Pulitzer-Prize winning book I enjoyed. Immensely. The Reivers is, like The Great Gatsby and All The Kings Men, a good story made great by the manner of its telling. Faulkner lets you think this is just the story of Lucius Priest, an eleven year old boy who acquiesces to borrowing his grandfather's automobile to go joy-riding with his father's hired hand Boon. That their eighty mile journey from Jefferson, Mississippi to Memphis will end up nothing more than an entertaining tale laughingly remembered. Then Ned happens. And keeps happening. First appearing as an innocent stowaway who "got just as much right to a trip as [Boon] and Lucius," Ned will embroil them all in a hare-brained scheme involving a "borrowed" horse that doesn't know how to run a race. Over the course of four days, Boon and Ned will, through their personal lives, provide Lucius an introduction to the chaotic adult world of love and lies and compromise and honor.

Written in Faulkner's unmistakable style that is simultaneously educated and everyday, The Reivers is a clash of idiocy and wisdom set in 1905 America, when a car on the road caused people to stop and watch it drive by. You will laugh out loud at the surprises Faulkner springs on you, and shake your head as Ned's attempts to disentangle Lucius, Boon and himself from the mess he has created only lead to more trouble. Through the book's details you appreciate how far we have advanced, both technologically and socially, regardless of how much we can still improve. And in the end Lucius, though still eleven and not a man, will no longer be a child.

A less-serious book than Faulkner's better known works such as The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, The Reivers is nonetheless equally worth reading. ( )
  skavlanj | Jan 13, 2021 |
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To Victoria, Mark, Paul, William, Burks
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Grandfather said: This is the kind of a man Boon Hogganbeck was.
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Like this: a Republican is a man who made his money; a Liberal is a man who inherited his; a Democrat is a barefooted Liberal in a cross-country race; a Conservative is a Republican who has learned to read and write.
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Warm, humorous, poignant story about a boy's loss of innocence and a memoir and loving re-creation of turn-of-the-century Dixie.

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