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A Death in the Family

Cover of A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

Decades after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. For in his lyrical, sorrowful account of a man's death and its impact on his family, Agee painstakingly created a small world of domestic happiness and then showed how quickly and casually it could be destroyed.

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose.

Decades after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. For in his lyrical, sorrowful account of a man's death and its impact on his family, Agee painstakingly created a small world of domestic happiness and then showed how quickly and casually it could be destroyed.

On a sultry summer night in 1915, Jay Follet leaves his house in Knoxville, Tennessee, to tend to his father, whom he believes is dying. The summons turns out to be a false alarm, but on his way back to his family, Jay has a car accident and is killed instantly. Dancing back and forth in time and braiding the viewpoints of Jay's wife, brother, and young son, Rufus, Agee creates an overwhelmingly powerful novel of innocence, tenderness, and loss that should be read aloud for the sheer music of its prose.

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About the Author-
  • James Agee (1909–1955) is the author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the renowned study of Alabama sharecroppers during the Depression. Born in Tennessee, he died two years before the publication of A Death in the Family, his best-known work and winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 2, 2012
    Agee's classic novel, posthumously published after his death at the age of 45, is considered one of the great American novels of childhood and domestic life, as well as a marvel of Southern literature. The book chronicles the effect of the un-expected death of Jay Follet—who is killed in a car accident after visiting his father—on his wife, son, and brother. Lloyd James narrates gently, kindly, as if wanting to not disturb the mourners in their grief. He tiptoes through the book, confident that his polite, soft reading best suits Agee's bittersweet story. James's words echo across the gaps between sentences and paragraph, and he uses pauses wisely, knowing that Agee's prose resonates in the steadily accumulating drizzle of emotion. There is no need to oversell; the book's rhythms dictate the tone of its narration. A Penguin Classics paperback.

  • AudioFile Magazine It's a pleasure to have James Agee's memorable 1957 novel available again, and in a fine audio edition. A Death in the Family won a Pulitzer Prize when it first appeared, but in recent decades it has been perhaps more honored than read. Mark Hammer's intelligent, evocative performance should change that. He paints Agee's pictures of lost small-town America but never gets in the way of the story, quietly giving heft and voice to these characters from our not-so-distant past. He even gives us the throaty coughing of Jay Follet's car when Jay cranks it to life on the summer night in 1915, leaving his wife and sleeping children on his way to the event that gives rise to the title. Close to perfect. B.G. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
  • Andre Dubus, author of Dancing after Hours "People I know who read A Death in the Family forty years ago still talk about it. So do I. It is a great book."
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    Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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