Monday, August 4, 2008

A Death in the Family


"A death in the family" was a 1958 Pulitzer Prize winning book, awarded post-humorously to James F. Agee. Why would I chose to read a book published in 1957? First, it is on a recommended college read lists of which I have only read five books so far. Secondly, we, James Agee and I, share common ancestry, so I thought it would be a good one to check off the list. This is not a high action or deep drama book. It' main theme is the role of religion and a child's perception. Much of the narrative is told from the point of view of children, mostly through the eyes of Rufus. Rufus is a young boy who idolizes his father. Through the book, in flashbacks, he shares stories of their relationship, as only a young child can tell. The story is somewhat autobiographical as he describes the death of his father. It begins with Rufus sharing an evening with his father, who is called away later in the night to check on his own ailing father. He fails to return when expected, and Mary, his wife and mother of Rufus, learns he has been in a serious car accident. She prepares the house for him to come home assuming he is only injured, but soon learns he was killed almost instantly in the accident, when he hits his head on the steering wheel before being thrown from the car. It is excellently written, describing the feelings of a child, not understanding all that goes on around, the mourning, the explanation of death, the wake and burial, and his mother tries to cope and explain God's role. This is not a quick read, and I would only recommend it to someone who is serious about going to college. It is definitely a Pulitzer Prize book.

2 comments:

Andrea said...

Sounds interesting. Did you like it? I like books that make me think long after they are through

S & RA Beazer said...

I think I liked it. It took forever to get through. It is almost poetic in parts.