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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
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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.
©1954, 1976 William Faulkner (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By FanB14 on 05-15-13

Perseverance in Face of Cruelty

Faulkner is a bit intimidating and difficult to process. I read several of his books in school, but somehow missed this novel. "Light in August" is undoubtedly the easiest to enjoy.

In the fictional town of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, the time period is just after the Civil War during a time of extreme racism while rebuilding. This theme is carried out by the main character, Joe Christmas, an angry man of mixed ethnic origin who doesn't know who his parents are and who rebels against prejudice, embarking on a murderous rampage as a cry for help. He's trying to find his way in the face of cruelty; committing unthinkable atrocities. The themes of violence, perseverance, and hope walk you through the story without judgment by Faulkner. You draw your own conclusions and are free to interpret as you wish. He is truly the voice of Southern literature.

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17 of 18 people found this review helpful


By Darwin8u on 09-17-17

so large, so powerful, so conflicted

There are some novels where the artistry hits you so hard the soul seems submerged. Others are just the opposite. The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying are perhaps Faulkner's greater artistic achievements, but it is the soul and humanity and beauty of Light in August that will probably bring me back to this novel. It is a novel that resembles the ocean. It is a novel so large, so powerful, so conflicted that it makes you perpetually wonder at its beauty, depth and buoyancy.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By BookWorm on 03-09-16

wonderful novel and beautifuly read

I am in awe over this performance, Will Patton briethed life into this novel, read it according to the mood, to the characters, giving individual voice to each one of them. This novel is a wonderful mix of poetry and triviality, the good in people and disgusting stupidy if not evil - all equally share their part. It is the mastery of the language of angels and people that let Faulkner create a world inhabited by pitiful creatures, good and bad, both having our sympathy...

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful


By Debbie on 12-17-14

Slow in the extreme

I never give up on a book. Well, I never have until this one. It's dreary, tedious, tells us every tiny moment in drawn-out misery and I can stand no more. The narration is similarly drearily drawled; I enjoyed his style for The Son, but it just reinforces how dull this story is here. I'll have to remain a philistine when it comes to Faulkner.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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