Having grown up in the South, the daughter of someone who wrote her masters thesis on Southern fiction, the idea of writing even a 300 word review of William Faulkner’s classic Light in August is intimidating, to say the least. In the South, Faulkner is a rite of passage, someone we all read in high school or college but certainly not since, preferring to celebrate our literary legacy through more contemporary “Southern fiction light”. Faulkner is just tough it’s dense and wrought with meaning classic literature at its finest, but not what you would call a beach read (unless you’re my mom).
And then I listened to Will Patton perform Faulkner’s Light in August.
Faulkner’s stories are written out of chronological order, in layers, in such a way that you might come to know a story over time from hearing it told by many different people in a place. Those who have studied Faulkner say when you get really caught up in one of the author’s page-long sentences, the best thing to do is read it out loud.
It’s even better to listen. With intonation, and the honey smooth cadence of Patton’s voice, the story is suddenly clearer.
Patton introduces us to Lena Grove as she begins her journey to find the father of her unborn child, Lucas Burch. Instead she finds Byron Bunch, who feels a strong pull to take care of her, though it puts him in an awkward social position. For guidance, Byron visits the Rev. Gail Hightower, a man so haunted by not even his own past, but that of his grandfather, that he has trapped himself in his own home.
Even before we encounter Joe Christmas, the 33-year old drifter of ambiguous race, the allusions to the life and death of Jesus are thick. There is a fire and a murder, and it all unravels from there. Patton’s voice carries us through it all, enhancing the story with approachability and authenticity. The Charleston-born Patton’s southern accent is true and real—not a touch of the theatrical, overdone linguistics adopted by some other actors.
In Light in August, Faulkner addresses themes of morality and race, religion and redemption all too deeply to address in these few words. But he does it without preaching or judgment, leaving the reader and in this case the listener to wonder about our own stories, and how they might be told. Sarah Evans Hogeboom
Audible is pleased to present Light in August, by Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner.
An Oprah's Book Club Selection regarded as one of Faulkner's greatest and most accessible novels, Light in August is a timeless and riveting story of determination, tragedy, and hope. In Faulkner's iconic Yoknapatawpha County, race, sex, and religion collide around three memorable characters searching desperately for human connection and their own identities.
Audie Award-winning narrator Will Patton lends his voice to Light in August. Patton has narrated works by Ernest Hemingway, Don DeLillo, Pat Conroy, Denis Johson, Larry McMurtry, and James Lee Burke, and brings to this performance a keen understanding of Faulkner, an authentic feel for the South, and a virtuoso narrator's touch.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Light in August, you'll get exclusive bonus audio added to your library - an interview with James Lee Burke about William Faulkner, conducted by James Atlas.
Be sure to check out Faulkner's The Wild Palms as well.
This production is part of our Audible Modern Vanguard line, a collection of important works from groundbreaking authors.
©1954, 1976 William Faulkner (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"For all his concern with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man. Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for the greatness of our classics." (Ralph Ellison)
Its sense of place made real through Faulkner's rich, textured language. The story is told at a relaxing, ever-more-interesting pace.
Novels by Lee Smith, who is also a gifted southern writer. My favorite of hers is Fair and Tender Ladies.
No, but plan to.
Yes. I loved Will Patton's performance.
I have not.
Wonderfully written but depressing story of life. Very sad characters.
I believe the audio version of this book is easier to follow than the written version would be. Since Faulkner writes as people think, I believe I would be forever going back to the previous paragraph or page without the excellent narration provided with this book.
I admired the descriptions of Mississippi within the book. As a Mississippi newbie, I'm fascinated by the people and the landscapes here. Faulkner nails it.
His was a quietly passionate performance. Believable and compelling. Extremely well done.
No. I needed breaks to digest the storyline and reflect on the characters.
As a writer, it's obvious to me that Faulkner was a frustrated poet. His words, though poetic and very descriptive, make the reader work too hard. I prefer writers who don't let their words get in the way of the story itself. But who am I to criticize a master?
I'll read more of Faulkner's work. (And no, it's not required in order to maintain one's citizenship in Mississippi. Unless you live around Oxford, maybe.)
I came to see Will Patton and though his narration was impeccable, the story could not keep my intrest.
Based on the interview with James Lee Burke on William Faulkner, the narrator, Will Patton, and the reviews i read on the so-called
I am exploring Scandinavian mysteries but also like mysteries set in other parts of the world. I also like reading Literary Fiction.
I would recommend this book for two reasons: First, because it is a profound and deeply moving (and disturbing) exploration of the legacy of slavery in the United States. Second, I would recommend it because Will Patton's narration is fantastic. He has an easy, warm style, unaffected and natural. I am going to seek his other performances out. Faulkner was one of those writers that everyone talks about, he's one of the giants of American Literature. For a long time I've been wanting to read him and I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to experience this audiobook.
There are NO spoilers in what follows because I don't want to ruin it for others. But here's some more details:
The novel, which is set in the 1930's, starts out with a young pregnant girl traveling to Jefferson in search of the father of her unborn baby. Once there, the story essentially shifts emphasis and focuses on a few men in the town, one of the named Christmas, who is very enigmatic. It is the story of Christmas which takes over for much of the middle of the book, before a return to Jefferson and the situation of the pregnant girl. There are other great characters: for example, a disgraced preacher called Hightower who has been forgotten by the town, and his friend Bunch, a hardworking, decent man who, as it turns out, is very lonely. There's also a middle aged woman living on an unkempt plantation. They are interesting people who are portrayed with depth and compassion.
The novel is not entirely linear and there are parts that are very meditative, descriptive and philosophical. Those parts are mostly entertaining because the writing is so rich but I confess that the second to last chapter, which I listened to twice, did me in, I just couldn't quite absorb it entirely. Other chapters were simply electrifying.
If you like straightforward, plot driven novels which go from A to B to C, then this book could be a slog. If you like reading modern classics and you're OK with some jumping around in time, with passages of rich description and psychology, then you'll love this.
Most importantly, Will Patton really sells this story. Thanks to his voice and talent I could get past the challenging parts and experience this great story.
No this is powerful enough on the first reading to remember every detail
When the main character is hiding out, rarely eating and going through a sort of purification process
This felt like a true flavor of the south that still exists today in the deepest, darkest parts of the southern soul lurking there in a scary way. Narrator's accent was dead on.
Better read than listened to. I'm know there is greatness here, BUT be ready to listen attentively... to discern who the speaker is, as well as who is who among characters. Plus, following the story line is rough-going as it seems to jump along. However, a thread appears at the conclusion which pulls together all that had gone before...so be patient. My fault--I listened in snatches of free time; an approach I would not recommend. Light in August would be best heard when interruptions were minimized, as when one is driving a long distance. Despite this review, the characterizations, descriptions and careful detailing prove it a true "classic."
Greg Pruitt Builder
The adjatives were very discriptive but too numerous. Listened for an 1.5 hours, and finally turned it off, did not get into the plot soon enough for me.
Counselor with eclectic taste, I enjoy all types of fiction, dark, strange and twisted things, humor and explicitly.
Really good narration however in my opinion Faulkner is better read than listened too after a while the run on sentences get a bit monotonous when listening.
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