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)
Cook, Steelworker, Sailor in Viet Nam. Retired after 4 decades as an RN. Share a birthday with Mark Twain and his love of "spinnin' a yarn"
Faulkner uses words like tea leaves to brew deep mysterious worlds that we forget existed here not so very long ago. How ardently one longs for the trust and simplicity that resonates in the background of the melody he creates with living breathing humans. Read this with your grandchildren and make sure they know that we rose to greatness before TV and smart phones. Teach them that people believe and decieve each other and that family is what family does... Tender as all Faulkners work the characters here play out our fears and hopes. It is a story that makes you think... do that ... think... this book will help.
I might. The storyline was rich and might even be worth a second read --something I almost never do.
When the main character walked from Alabama to Missippi while in the advanced stage of pregnancy.
We have improved race relations somewhat.
Absolutely. Especially if I was on a road trip in the southern United States to remind me of what it would have been like in an earlier time. This book addresses religion, racism, gender and southern values in ways which are both humble and honest. On top of that it's a beautiful story with the lives of a diverse group of people interwoven in complex ways.
Somehow I got through high school and college without reading any Faulkner (how did that happen?!) and must sheepishly admit I grabbed this one during an Audible classics sale, otherwise I would have passed it by. Thank you Audible for the sale. Faulkner is a master, and now I know why.
This story was written in the early 1930s and gives us a look into life of small southern communities of the era. If you have delicate sensibilities about the use of certain racial slurs or racist thinking in general, then this book is not for you.
Life was slower. Society was rigid. Opportunities for non-whites, the poor and women were limited. LIGHT IN AUGUST handles these big themes. Good and evil. Light and dark. Religion. Sex. Race. Death. But it's also just a dang good story.
If Faulkner had told the story in a linear fashion, starting at Point A and leading us to The End, it would be interesting. Instead, he entrances us by slowly unfurling the characters, their backgrounds, their reasons for action (or non-action) and their interconnectedness.
As a narrator, Will Patton is amazing. He brings forth the southern accents and characters like the true professional he is. Some of the characters made me laugh out loud with their southern grammar and slang -- I'm certain it would have not been nearly as fun trying to read through it myself and figuring out what the heck was being said. Patton brought even more color and life to the story.
Author C.E. Morgan has called Faulkner, "A writer of prodigious powers." She was right.
No. Although it started out well, the last half didn't make a lot of sense.
The plot and characters were confusing.
I like the scene where the young lady met the man at the mill. I also liked the scene where the adopted father of the protagonist accosted him at a dance in town. I also liked the scene where the teenagers picked him up hitchhiking on the side of the road. Many specific scenes were quite vividly portrayed.
No. Not enough plot. Too disjointed.
Riveting. Guttural. Intense.
Christmas seeing the waitress for the first time in the diner. The revelation of Christmas' origin. And, the revelation of the janitor's identity.
Too voluminous to simplify in a review. He owned the story.
If I could have I would have. I listened on sequential days--couldn't wait for the opportunity to "plug in!"
Made me want to download as much of Faulkner's body of work as possible. I only wish Will Patton could be Faulkner's exclusive voice.
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).
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