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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)

What members say

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  • Mark 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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  • 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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  • 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.

5 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 10-07-13

A rural family struggles with death

Written back in the first half of the 20th century, this slow moving but powerful story tells of a rural family facing a death of one of its members. It starts out very slowly but soon it completely hooked me and I found it hard to put down. Not a whole lot happens but it is nevertheless completely absorbing and true to life. I highly recommend it.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anna
  • 06-08-16

Where's the rest?

There was only five minutes of the book. Where is the rest of it, dude?

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • jaye
  • 28-05-12

STORY WAS TOO DULL.

What did you like best about A Death in the Family? What did you like least?

IT WAS A GOOD STUDY ON THE THE DAYS AFTER A LOVED ONE'S DEATH.

IT WAS WAY TOO DULL.

If you’ve listened to books by James Agee before, how does this one compare?

THIS WAS MY FIRST.

Have you listened to any of Lloyd James’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I DON'T KNOW. THE NARATION WAS GREAT.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

PROBABLY...I ASSUME THE TV WOULD ADD SOMETHING TO MAKE THE STORY MORE INTERESTING.

1 of 15 people found this review helpful