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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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  • scott
  • Hallowell, ME, United States
  • 04-08-13

wonderful, and Will Patton is perfect for the job

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes.

Any additional comments?

A little wordy at times, but a great way to sample Faulkner, and The South

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Too much rambling

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

probably not.

Would you ever listen to anything by William Faulkner again?

probably not.

What character would you cut from Light in August?

all of them.

Any additional comments?

I desperately tried to grasp what the author was attempting to accomplish. I endured these ramblings right to the end. I do not recomment this book. Chased too many rabbits in too many directions. Whew! Glad this novel is OVER!

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  • Jen
  • Johannesburg
  • 03-12-13

Beautifully written, but no connection for me

Although this is a beautifully written novel, I was completely unable to care about any of the characters. Quite frankly, I didn't care if they were happy or sad, lived or died. I also found it incredibly irritating to have to listen to the same scene told from different viewpoints considering I felt no empathy for any of the characters. If I was reading this, I would have stopped part way through, but I'm still new to audio books so I haven't yet learnt to give up on the ones I'm not enjoying.

The narration was average, neither enticing me nor putting me off, though I did find I had to constantly change the volume.

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  • Sharron
  • Robinvale, Australia
  • 03-06-13

Hardwork

I couldn't finish this book. My reads need to have a good storyline, move at a reasonable pace and have interesting character development. Light in August failed all three.

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Too much heady, meaningless descriptions.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Somebody that is 85 years old and from the south

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not William Faulkner

Any additional comments?

This book just was not my style. The writing style is too thick and the writer worked so hard to create indepth emotion and feelings that he created nothing instead. Archiac and verbose.

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If you've never been there, Go Now!

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Classic of the old south.

Would you listen to Light in August again? Why?

I might. The storyline was rich and might even be worth a second read --something I almost never do.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Light in August?

When the main character walked from Alabama to Missippi while in the advanced stage of pregnancy.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

We have improved race relations somewhat.

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  • Carrie
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 01-23-13

Vivid description, beautifully narrated

Would you listen to Light in August again? Why?

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.

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Written by a master, read by a pro

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.

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  • Katherine
  • Los Altos, CA, United States
  • 01-13-13

Not my cup of tea!

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. Although it started out well, the last half didn't make a lot of sense.

Would you recommend Light in August to your friends? Why or why not?

The plot and characters were confusing.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Could you see Light in August being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No. Not enough plot. Too disjointed.