A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

Book - 1998
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Forty years 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.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1998, c1985.
Edition: 1st Vintage International ed. --
ISBN: 9780375701238
0375701230
Characteristics: ix, 310 p.

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Cheryl65
Oct 01, 2017

First, I agree with the 5 comments already written about this beautiful novel.

But I also really value the short intro to this 2017 Penguin edition -- loved its back story.

When Agee died of a heart attack in a NY taxi in 1955, he left his friend and editor to deal with his sudden death!
David McDowell, found a big stack of unnumbered, yellowed pages, written in pencil. Two years later, this novel was published -- and won the Pulitzer!! All its words are Agee's. McDowell provided order, and deletions -- and income for Agee's widow and young children.

This Intro notes the novel's autobiographical aspect, and got me googling names of Agee's family -- his widow Mia, a son Joel, his oldest daughter, DeeDee ….

The intro also describes a second version, published December, 2007, from that same yellowed pile -- by editor Michael LoFaro. I'll probably read it. I hope it gives me ideas about how editors work, and their importance.

Dieu_D Mar 24, 2016

An incredibly moving and expressive novel about a family coming to terms with a tragedy, A Death in the Family is one of those rare novels that hits you in the chest with emotional truths, and beautiful language free from sentimental clichés.

multcolib_central Jul 11, 2014

Agee is pitch perfect in giving voice to the various character in this exquisite book. The emotions in the novel is row and real. Winner of the Pulitzer prize. If you read only ten works in your life, make this one of them.

bwortman Mar 28, 2013

Agee's novel was post-humously published in 1957 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1958. The novel is a fascinating study in small details, exploring the life of a family living in Tennessee in 1915. We gain an insight into this family both prior to the accident and in the odd period afterwards. Agee brilliantly creates multiple third person points of view, providing us with insights into his wife, his young children, and other family member's reactions to Jay's death. Grappling with issues like faith, unbelief, and the strange things one does and must deal with while grieving are all deftly explored. A sombre and mentally-engaging novel, it is ultimately a fascinating exploration of the rippling ramifications of a death of a family member.

r
reedstevens
Sep 20, 2011

Beautiful but slow by today's standards. Evokes an era before today's strum and drang. Old family photos of a time long gone.

b
bowlin182
Nov 21, 2010

James Agee really hit the mark in this. Beautifully written, he seemed to have genuinely loved his characters and their relationships. The title hardly does justice for the emotions conveyed in these few hundred pages. I certainly recommend this.

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