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 William Faulkner's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews James Lee Burke about the life and work of William Faulkner – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
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)
Yes, with the warning that the depictions of people are often harsh, as are the characters' attitudes towards one another as individuals, and as members of their particular class or race.
The time and place are not unlike To Kill a Mockingbird. Rather than everything being from the point of view of one character, however, Light in August tells the same story, and the backstory, from the points of view of many of the characters.
ALL of them! Will Patton's delivery is spot on. His dialect is not an over-the-top, nonspecific Southern accent, but it has the subtle distinctions of class, culture, and geographic identity. I wish he narrated the Sound and the Fury. I'm finding even the sample tedious, and am not sure I will enjoy it because of the narrator.
I think the murdered woman would be interesting to know personally.
I hope that Audible will engage / encourage Will Patton to narrate more Faulkner and other books by Southern authors. He is able to keep you inside the character, even when delivering, "she said," or "he said," which is important to this listener.
I had not read Faulkner for many decades and I recall how repetitive and thick the prose . But on Audible, especially with the expertise of this reader, the stream of consciousness was natural. The uncertainty of what the characters saw or felt or decided was a real enhancement to the storyline. Savored this .
Brilliantly told story with changing perspectives about human dramas, history, guilt and hope. Outstanding narration conveys the different personalities perfectly.
Embarrassed to say that at more than 70 years of literacy this is my first William Faulkner book. OMG, what a wonderful story by a super gifted writer and story teller. The narrative and production quality only enhanced it. I'm already beginning my second Faulkner book. "A Fable."
This was my first work by Faulkner. His style is gripping and has a genuine feel for the time and place of the story. It does, however, go to an extreme at times.
The narrator brings the work alive, with distinct voices for each of the characters, faithful accents, and a good pace.
I will listen to another Faulkner, especially one read by the same narrator. Together, they really know how to tell a story.
Retired and loving every minute!
Most enjoyable book. The images Faulkner paints with his words put me back in the story. Love the story.
Most memorable for me was the imagery of the small southern tows. I was raised in one of these small towns.
When the main character was walking down the gravel road carrying her shoes.
Good book good reader!! Enjoyable! !
The author does a great job of telling the story through the thoughts and deeds of various characters.
Christmas and his foster father's trip to town and visit to the cafe where Christmas meets the waitress that will change his life.
The reader did an excellent job with each character's "voice". Listening to this book was very enjoyable and I found myself really getting into the story. There were several times I went back to listen to a part a second time just to pay closer attention to the language used. Though this book was written decades ago I think its theme of how race and family influence our lives is still important today.
I would not be interested in reading another Faulkner book however I thought Will Patton did good job of narrating.
The overly descriptive nature of Faulkner's work is lost on me. I find myself daydreaming or getting lost on what he was describing or talking about. I really hated reading this book but I kept reading in hopes that it would have some redeeming ending. Not.
The vocabulary of the author. I understood the intent of each sentence, but marvelled at the literary level of the written word. Not something you would here in everyday life now.
The depth of the characters and how they converged in life
The pace, the vocal manipulation and tonal flexibility in converying each character
pass on that one
Very insightful of human value and perspective from this era.
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