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Summary

One of Faulkner's comic masterpieces, The Reivers is a picaresque story that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucas Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family's retainers, to steal his grandfather's car and make a trip to Memphis. The priests' black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey, for which they are ill-equipped, that ends at Miss Reba's bordello in Memphis. From there, a series of wild misadventures ensues - involving horse smuggling, trainmen, sheriff's deputies, and jail.
©1962 William Faulkner (P)2005 Random House, Inc.

What listeners say about The Reivers

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Profile Image for Kelly
  • Kelly
  • 23-02-21

a charmingly told story of human folly

The Reivers is the most humorous of Faulkner's books that I have read. The moments of loss and injury are less tragic and marked more by folly. But it is also still identifiable as one of his books, beautifully illustrating life in the deep south, exploring familial relationships and the effects of class. I loved this book almost as much as I did As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.

This is the story of an ill-advised road trip in a car that was borrowed/stolen. It is charmingly told by only one narrator: Grandfather, who is relating a story from his childhood adventure to his grandchildren.

When he was only ten, in 1905, he went on a trip from his home in Jefferson, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. A man in his grandfather's employ (Boon) is determined to convince a prostitute he visits semi-regularly to leave the whore house and marry him. To do that they take the boy's grandfather's brand new Winton Flyer. Along the way, the boy spends the night in the whore house, is part of a knife fight, loses the car after it is gambled away by one of his traveling companions, is forced to participate in a horse race in an attempt to win the money to buy back the car. Even the horse is stolen. This journey goes from bad to worse, all of the events are completely unbelievable and yet as the reader you believe it all.

There are moments that made me think Huck Finn, which was apparently one of Faulkner's aspirations. But I could also see the more tragic Tobacco Road on its pages. This one was a much easier read than the others I have read. It didn't seem like I was working to find the meaning as it did with others. But, I still found it to be a deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize. This one is also more accessible. If I were to recommend Faulkner to someone who wasn't a reader of the classics, I would probably suggest starting here.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dale
  • 22-11-19

if you enjoy, I mean really enjoy, parenthetical

parenthetical phrases, you should love this book. There's a wonderful buddy/road adventure/coming of age story here, but truly, by the time Faulkner gets around to saying what he's saying, you've half-forgotten what he was talking about in the first place. The narrator was great and helped set the mood. There's also a few references to unforgivable practices (re: women and prostitutes) and the N word surfaces more than you might like, but overall a quite enjoyable read.

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  • Dražzen
  • 02-04-18

I have enjoyed it very, very much

Where does The Reivers rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I had read the book long time ago and I have liked it. So, it was up to the reader this time not to disappoint me. And he did not.

What does John H. Mayer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent reader. He made in my head all the wonders a good book makes to the reader plus the voices.

Any additional comments?

I hope I will return to this book some day. I have about dozen books in this category.

1 person found this helpful

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  • ruth a anderson
  • 17-11-09

4 days in the life of an eleven year old

Like Hemingway with one day in the life of an old man at sea, your intrest in the four days spent in this novel is held from begining to end. Life lessons learned.Enjoyable.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Snore
  • 20-11-20

Slow to start

I think this was Faulkner’s first and it felt like it. It was really slow to start- I almost didn’t keep with it but it got going and didn’t stop until the end. Definitely a piece of time in the south. Very much reflects the blatant racism of the time.

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  • Dave Cline
  • 14-12-09

Nice Listen

Good Faulkner.

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  • Chrissie
  • 02-10-15

Wordy, confusing and boring

Wordy, confusing and boring. Those are the three adjectives I would use to describe this book. Simplistic too.

My biggest complaint is the wordiness. What? Was Faulkner taking part in a contest to see who could come up with the most synonyms for each word? Someone should count how many times "or" is found in this book. Faulkner begins with an oblique statement, and then it is repeated umpteen times with other words so that the meaning is hammered into the reader. This bored me and started putting me to sleep.

The plot is straightforward and simple. Faulkner uses none of his complicated literary techniques typical of his other novels. Nevertheless, I think he likes to confuse. Why does he never say something once, simply? There is a plot twist at the end that threw me.

So what is the theme of the book? It is a coming of age story, set in 1905 in Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. An adventure story spread over four days. Lucius Priest, a pampered white eleven-year-old, the story’s main character, learns the difference between the real world and the ideal world taught to him by his elders. What we are told and the way it really is. That is it in a nutshell. The four days start with the stealing of a car, followed by the crossing of a muddy creek, betting, horse races, a bordello and of course prostitutes. (Reivers means the stealers!). Yet the story is so innocent, the message so cute. Too cute. Honestly, I think the book is more appropriate for kids. It says nothing to an adult.

It draws for me a rather tame picture of the South in 1905.

The audiobook narration by John H. Mayer was easy to follow, yet I detested his intonation of Ned McCaslin's "hee-hee-hee". Ned is black. He plays a central role. The intonation made him sound stupid, and he wasn't stupid at all!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Linda R. Brown
  • 05-05-13

old south thinking but cute story and well read.

What made the experience of listening to The Reivers the most enjoyable?

the reader

Who was your favorite character and why?

the major character, a 12 year old boy.

Which scene was your favorite?

I can't think of one. Worst scene was child abuse at the end.

If you could rename The Reivers, what would you call it?

how to not treat a child or women or anyone

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  • Kathy
  • 29-10-09

Boring

Don't waste your time and money. If I could give this less than 1 star, I would.

1 person found this helpful