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The Reivers (1962)

by William Faulkner

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2,289316,799 (3.64)134
One of Faulkner's comic masterpieces, The Reivers is a picaresque that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family's retainers, to steal his grandfather's car and make a trip to Memphis. The Priests' black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey, for which they are all ill-equipped, that ends at Miss Reba's bordello in Memphis. From there a series of wild misadventures ensues--involving horse smuggling, trainmen, sheriffs' deputies, and jail.… (more)
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    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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The Reivers is a book that could work better as a coming of age as an odyssey rather than a comedy piece. The pacing is slow, dragged out, resembling Light in August and the misadventures in it. And like that book, the struggles and relationship of the main cast is immensely interesting. Faulkner really knows how to write such simple but characteristic characters. The issue is that, since this book is written from the perspective of the characters alone, the serious nature of the narrative tone hinders the comic value. As such, this book simply does not work as intended, with the potential highs brought by Faulkner's powerful insights left aside in favor of a kind of humor that just did not catch on with me. ( )
  _takechiya | Nov 29, 2023 |
Interesting, with some funny, near slapstick parts, but lots of complex plot sections that weren't engaging enough to unravel. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
Faulkner is hard for me to understand. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 12, 2023 |
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 |
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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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One of Faulkner's comic masterpieces, The Reivers is a picaresque that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family's retainers, to steal his grandfather's car and make a trip to Memphis. The Priests' black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey, for which they are all ill-equipped, that ends at Miss Reba's bordello in Memphis. From there a series of wild misadventures ensues--involving horse smuggling, trainmen, sheriffs' deputies, and jail.

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