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)
Ethereal -- words that drift and sometimes drive straight into that sense beyond hearing and beyond seeing. Only one two other books moved me as much: Hugh Dickson's reading of Bleak House and Anthony Heald's reading of Moby Dick. All these books I read and listened, alternatively, the pleasure deeper for the hearing of it.
I wanted to read a Faulkner book and this was on sale. The story was interesting, but a bit depressing. I finished the book and was happy when it was over. In the end, every action has a reaction, for the good or for the bad. This is what I walked away with. Racism and hatred hurts everyone in the end. Faulkner's writing is like poetry and this kept me going till the end.
Entertaining, descriptive (of the time period, people and scenarios) and drama-filled (like an old fasioned-soap opera).
The narrator's voice and ability to go into the characters really made the book come alive for me. The story, written in 1932, set in the 1800's I believe, is written in older-style, poetic in areas and very wordy at times. I had to sometimes paraphrase in my mind the main points through the wordy parts of any such scene to keep focus of what was really being said. Though overall the story kept me listening for more. Kudos to Will Patton for a superb job with his intonations and inflections for the many interesting characters and storylines (there were multiple stories within stories that were within the main story itself). He kept me listening to that wonderful voice of his and I heard the entire 15+ hour book within 2.5 days during spare time. It was thought provoking to the time period and sometimes humorous as well. Overall a definite recommended read (or listen).
The charators and their stories are rich. The language gets a bit ponderous in multiple sections. It is easier to listen to when being active about listening rather then when attempting to multi-task.
I was moved to tears, especially by the individual plights of the women at the end of the story.
Narration by Will Patton gives this Mississippi based novel a great atmosphere. The novel itself seems to drag at times, as if the writer was fishing for direction, and then picks up for a shocking end.
workingmomof2. Lots of driving time = many Audio books
Will Patton does the most amazing job tirelessly scratching through Faulkner's overly wordy prose. There really is a great American Novel hiding under all those words, but you have to weed out all the extraneous verbage to find it. I found myself saying out loud more than once, "Yah, yah, I got it...just spit it out already!" Faulkner apparently likes to tell you something is red 5 different ways....or everything 5 different ways. I am amazed that more people didnt just lose interest in his work. No doubt the stiry us powerful, the characters deep and complex, but you have to strip the prose off to find all that out. Patten IS the best narration for Southern literature.
There is no denying Faulkner is brilliant at painting pictures with words;spinning a silken ribbon! I just was not in the mood for spinning a dark one. If you are in thr mood for a brooding tale of days gone by then you should find this facinating. I just was not in the mood to be depressed any more than I already was. My rating is for a book by a word-spinner that college profs make you read to show what can be done.
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.
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