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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)

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.

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Nominee - Best Classic Audiobook, 2011

"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)

"It's impossible to overstate the difficulties facing Will Patton as he undertakes a reading of this Faulkner classic. It's not simply the matter of conveying early-twentieth-century Southern backwoods dialects. That, a skilled mimic with an exceptional ear like Patton masters easily. But this novel's demands are so much more arduous, requiring a narrator to plumb the depths of despair, hopelessness, faith, rage, and yearning that go on for page after page without letup." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A masterpiece written for Will Patton's 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.

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Good book, depressing characters

Any additional comments?

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.

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Wonderful Narration

If you could sum up Light in August in three words, what would they be?

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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  • Danette
  • BIGFORK, MT, United States
  • 09-27-12

beautifully written, while also a tad ponderous

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was moved to tears, especially by the individual plights of the women at the end of the story.

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  • wmaursta
  • Argyle, MN, United States
  • 09-19-12

Great story hiding in there, if you can find it

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.

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  • NOKWISA
  • Garland, Texas, United States
  • 08-29-12

Wordsmith... You bet

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.

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Rich Language, engaging story, perfect reader

What did you love best about Light in August?

Its sense of place made real through Faulkner's rich, textured language. The story is told at a relaxing, ever-more-interesting pace.

What other book might you compare Light in August to and why?

Novels by Lee Smith, who is also a gifted southern writer. My favorite of hers is Fair and Tender Ladies.

Have you listened to any of Will Patton???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but plan to.

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Aimless Characters. Mirrors life.

Would you consider the audio edition of Light in August to be better than the print version?

Yes. I loved Will Patton's performance.

If you’ve listened to books by William Faulkner before, how does this one compare?

I have not.

Any additional comments?

Wonderfully written but depressing story of life. Very sad characters.

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  • Viki
  • ABERDEEN, MS, United States
  • 02-29-12

My first Faulkner experience!

Would you consider the audio edition of Light in August to be better than the print version?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What about Will Patton???s performance did you like?

His was a quietly passionate performance. Believable and compelling. Extremely well done.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. I needed breaks to digest the storyline and reflect on the characters.

Any additional comments?

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.)

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  • Mike
  • Dawson city, Yukon, Canada
  • 02-19-12

Waste of a credit

Would you try another book from William Faulkner and/or Will Patton?

I came to see Will Patton and though his narration was impeccable, the story could not keep my intrest.

Any additional comments?

Based on the interview with James Lee Burke on William Faulkner, the narrator, Will Patton, and the reviews i read on the so-called