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A Death in the Family

Narrated by: Lloyd James
Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

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.

©1938 1956, 1957 by the James Agee Trust. 1957 by the New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 1985 by Mia Agee (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"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." (Andre Dubus, author of Dancing after Hours)

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Profile Image for Dillon
  • Dillon
  • 24-07-17

Wonderfully read!

Incredible story. Wonderfully read. James Agee is amazing. Get it, listen, enjoy!!!! Thank you Audible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Valerie
  • 27-06-15

Outstanding!

I had never heard of this author or this book- so glad I stumbled upon it! Moving, thoughtful- a great story told by a fantastic narrator

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gil
  • 19-05-19

Tedious Detail

It too long to establish the plot and the repetitious detail failed to add to the development of the story. The ending was extremely weak and disappointing and failed to tie up the meaning of whatever message the author was trying to convey.

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  • A. D. Howland
  • 14-02-19

Best book I have ever read

This is a work of art that reveals human strengths and weaknesses in equal measure with a faithfulness that is both honest and understanding.

I first read this book as a teenager and have re-read it as an adult. It has always been my favorite book.

Agee's lyrical descriptions and combination of realism and empathy while writing from the point of view of various characters are unsurpassed in anything else I have ever read.

As he puts a magnifying glass on an average family's reaction to a sudden death, he deftly illuminates its struggles with religion, alcoholism, parent/child relationships (both young children and their parents and adults and their parents), sibling relationships, and one family member who is nearly deaf by employing compassionate outer and inner dialogues throughout the book.

He brings the reader into the time and place of the book both as an observer and as a player of one of the roles in this poignant and quintessentially American story.

It is beautifully presented here in audio format.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kip
  • 12-11-18

Beautiful, lyrical experience.....

….long overdue for me. I'm so grateful to have read this work on the recommendation of a close friend. I will definitely read it again in the future I'm sure. Mr. Agee's writing, I feel has a way of placing me "in the story" from the very beginning. I'm not at all surprised to know that this work won the Pulitzer. I will purchase the hard copy to keep in my collection of treasures. Kip

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  • Sara Guggenheim
  • 11-07-18

Description

Listening to the delicate way Agee describes the deepest feeling and emotions of human kind through simple and preside descriptions for different points of view is eye opening.
I throughly enjoyed it

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Profile Image for Orren
  • Orren
  • 05-05-18

Beautifully written

I delayed listenting because I didn't want to get depressed. It is really a great book, and is now one of my favorite. It didn't depress me! James Agee has a brilliant style of writing.

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  • Michael F. Mcneeley
  • 31-03-17

Outstanding audiobook.

Excellent story, excellent performance. Narrator nailed the East Tennessean accent without condescension. Very highly recommended.

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  • Joyce Meyer
  • 25-02-17

Wonderful!

I've read this book twice, but got such wonderful added dimension from Lloyd James' reading. Kudos!

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 22-06-14

Is it really worth the costs of reading/listening?

In the 2d half of my 40s, I've been on a kick to read as many prized literary novels as I can. I've been particularly interested in reading such novels set in the South. This novel, set in Tennessee, won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. It has caused me to question whether I should do a cost-benefit analysis before reading certain prized novels.

In my literary endeavor, many times I've enjoyed what I've read and some novels have required hard work and a second reading to appreciate (e.g., The Sound and the Fury). And, then there have been a couple like A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, that made me wonder why I should force myself to experience a story of an event and aftermath so painful to endure in reality, a story that nearly all of us suffer through at least a few times in our life if we are lucky enough to make it to middle age. This novel, as you can tell from the title, is a story of a rural family dealing with the death of the father and husband and brother and son to the respective surviving family members.

I have had a hard enough time surviving the painful ordeal of the death of an immediate family member. While I can appreciate the literary quality of this novel, I've come to the conclusion that life is just too short and my reading time too limited to spend hours and hours of my time vicariously living through such intimate agony and sadness at and as the story's very center.

6 of 13 people found this review helpful