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by James Agee

Download A Death In Family eBook
James Agee
Women's Fiction
Putnam Adult; 9th Printing edition (June 1, 1967)
318 pages
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A Death in the Family is an autobiographical novel by author James Agee, set in Knoxville, Tennessee.

A Death in the Family is an autobiographical novel by author James Agee, set in Knoxville, Tennessee. He began writing it in 1948, but it was not quite complete when he died in 1955 (with reputedly many portions having been written in the home of his friend Frances Wickes). Agee's widow and children were left with little money after Agee's death and McDowell wanted to help them by publishing the work.

James Agee died suddenly May 16, 1955.

Complete and Unabridged. A division of. The Hearst Corporation. James Agee died suddenly May 16, 1955.

James Agee’s talent was both luxuriant and precise, and the opening . Pat Conroy 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, and I’m happy to see it done anew.

He is one of those writers who cause other writers to shiver with pure pleasure. Andre Dubus For as long as fiction is read, James Agee’s A Death in the Family stands as an American masterpiece

A death in the family. by. Agee, James, 1909-1955. Books for People with Print Disabilities.

A death in the family. 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. Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1958. Internet Archive Books.

Forty years after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. People I know who read A Death in the Family forty years ago still talk about it. It is a great book, and I'm happy to see it done anew

Forty years after its original publication, James Agee's last novel seems, more than ever, an American classic. 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. It is a great book, and I'm happy to see it done anew. How much polishing or re-writing he might have done is impossible to guess, for he was a tireless and painstaking writer. Knoxville: Summer 1915.

A Death in the Family book. Too bad. I just read James Agee’s A Death in the Family and it’s so damn depressing that all I want to do is sit in a dark closet and tremble with existential angst. This is the kind of novel that makes me want to weep into my whiskey, but that would only tighten the spiral of depression. If you’re going to take anything while reading this book, it should certainly be cocaine.

James Agee A Death In The Family. James Agee died suddenly May 16, 1955

James Agee A Death In The Family. It was finally decided to print these in italics and to put them after Parts I and II. It seemed presumptuous to try to guess where he might have inserted them.

A Death In The Family

A Death In The Family. To all persons to whom these presents may come greeting be it known that JAMES AGEE has been awarded THE PULITZER PRIZE IN LETTERS FICTION for A DEATH IN THE FAMILY in accordance with the provisions of the statutes of the University governing such award. In witness whereof we have caused this certificate to be signed by the President of the University and our corporate seal to be hereto affixed in the City of New York on the fifth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty eight.

  • Ice_One_Guys
The touchstone of the book is the tragic and improbable death of Jay Follett; a husband, father, brother, son, son-in-law, friend, and citizen. The story of the raw and brutal emotional and psychological impacts of Jay's death on those left behind is told with astounding power. There are no words wasted as Agee's characters take on the faith challenging and cruel randomness of an untimely death such as Jay's. It was in the descriptions of the children's grief, confusion, fear and skepticism; however, that the book really got to me.

If you read books, read this one.
  • Lanionge
The first time I read this was over 30 years ago in college. I loved it then and never forgot how much I loved it, so recently I thought I should revisit it. It's a sad story of course, but it's uplifting and encouraging and beautifully written.
  • Kulabandis
A sad, heart-wrenching novel, but wonderful. This is an autobiographical novel, and you can feel the emotion of the author in the protagonist of the story, the little boy.When I started reading it, I didn't want to put the book down.
  • Maximilianishe
This is a stunningly beautiful and thoughtful book. The author's ability to remember how life looks to a very young child as well as to adults and his ability to describe those visions is unsurpassed. The book is a portrait of individuals, families, and a way of life in America that left this reader deeply moved .
  • Dori
It was interesting to read how the various characters reacted to a death, especially from the children's perspective. As an older adult, so much of the book was what I had heard others say regarding the death of someone they knew and/or loved but not all at one time. The emphasis on how the person died, what lead up to the death, the actual cause of death, etc. are recurring themes as they are in every death.
  • Pipet
I have read the list of Pulitzer Prize winners many times, thinking that if a book is a winner it must be somewhat worthwhile. I always came across A Death in the Family by James Agee, which I spurned because of the title. I didn't want to go there, the saddest of all human experiences. But finally I did.
I could say that it is a beautifully written book, which it is. I could say that it is a work of art, which it is. I could also say that a work of art can lift you as high as you can go or shatter your soul, depending on what you bring to it. Well, I almost lost my daughter last year and I lost my mother a few months ago, and I wasn't emotionally equipped to handle this book. It left me shattered.
I would definitely say you should read this book. It is not Faulkner or Styron by any means, but it has to be in the top ten of books written by a Southerner. But I warn you. Read it when you yourself are not having emotional distress. Otherwise, it just might be more than you can handle.
  • Gralinda
My older Avon edition, with the far more appropriate cover of the empty easy chair, had only one "blurb" on the back, from the now defunct "Saturday Review," which stopped publication in 1986. It said: "There's nothing quite like the excitement of coming upon a book and suddenly having it explode at you and fill you with wonder. Such a book is `A Death in the Family'." The quintessential blurb. I've remembered it for the 43 years since my first reading, and upon the second reading, find it equally appropriate and descriptive.

James Agee starts the book with an equally memorable sentence, as well as introductory passage: "We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee in the time that I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child." From the title to the section, you know that the year is 1915, a date that can evoke nostalgia. The men, and yes it was mainly men, came home from work, ate dinner at 6:00 pm, and with no TV, at 6:30 would go outside to water the lawn, and the evenings were enjoyed on the front porch. Agee has a brilliantly precise depiction of the ritual of watering the lawn, from the noise in the hose, to the bell-shaped film of water that the spray can assume. I've rarely been able to use a hose since without recalling this descriptive passage.

The novel spans the two or three days which surround the death of Jay Follet in a car accident, and the subsequent impact his death had on his wife, their two small children, as well as the rest of the family. Yes, it was a simpler time, with cars in their infancy, and we learn that it was one cotter pin that fell out of the steering mechanism which resulted in the crash.

Much of the book is told from the point of view of the Follet's son, Rufus. Rarely does an adult writer have the ability to tell a story through the eyes of a child without mudding the waters with adult sensibilities and knowledge. In Agee's case though, I thought he hit ever note true. It certainly brought back a flood of memories from my own childhood, and how I had rarely thought about certain aspects since. The scene in which the older children make a performance out of making fun of 5-year old Rufus, who is only seeking their recognition and approval, is heart-breaking. Ah, the cruelty of children.

There were numerous other vignettes of equal intensity and insight, and these included a depiction of the alcoholism of Jay's younger brother Ralph; the conflicts in the marriage of Jay and Mary over alcohol and religion; a shopping trip with an aunt, with the importance of making your own style selections; the heartache of extreme age over 100; and a description of the night, from a child's bedroom. Agee's writing evokes deep emotion, again and again.

Many of us have, or may have to explain what death is to a young child. Forget all the "How to..." books on this one. Agee has written the sine qua non account. Agee also had a dim view of the "men of the cloth," and wrote a scathing portrait of the obtuse, pompous Father Jackson, who alienated both Rufus, and his sister Catherine, with numerous faux pas. Again, how much was projection of adult sentiments onto children? On the first reading, I obviously did not know, but on the second, something similar happened to my own children, when they were 6 and 7. They saw through the bad attitude of the "preacher man," and said they never wanted to go back; and they haven't. But it is Mary's brother, Andrew who delivers the most scathing critique, because Father Jackson would not perform all the rites since Jay had never been baptized: "Genuflecting, and ducking and bowing and scraping, and basting themselves with signs of the Cross, and all that disgusting hocus-pocus, and you come to one simple, single act of Christian charity and what happens? The rules of the Church forbid it. He is not a member of our little club. I tell you, Rufus, its enough to make a man puke up his soul."

42 years ago I recommended this book to a well-read friend and mentor from East Tennessee, and he came back with the verdict that this was just a "simple story, OK, but of not much significance." It has bothered me, in a low key way, lo' these many years. Was I originally right, or was his assessment correct? Surely I was right the first time... and the second reading has only confirmed, and even strengthened that assessment. I consider it one of the top 10 American novels ever written. A 6-star read.
One of the best books I have ever read ... my life was enriched by Agee's incredible, intense observation and skill with the English language. He focuses -- with love, with an accurate eye -- and does not let up until he captures truth. An amazing achievement.