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Next Up: A Death In The Family

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Well, this one sounds like another real pick-me-up.

The title says it all. And we’re not talking about a third cousin or distant aunt in the family. We’re talking about a young 36-year-old father with two children and a young wife.

That’s not a spoiler. It’s the premise of the entire novel–and the event around which all the other events in the story orbit.

So what of A Death In The Family and its author, James Agee? Some quick facts:

  • A Death In The Family is an autobiographical novel detailing Agee’s experience losing his father as a child.
  • Agee began writing the novel in 1948, but it wasn’t finished when he died in 1955. It was posthumously released by editor David McDowell in 1957.
  • Agee subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel in 1958.
  • In 2007, Michael Lofora, a professor at the University of Tennessee, published a second version of the novel, one that he said was more true to Agee’s intent. This is actually the one that I’ll be reading.
  • Steve Earle, the country folk singer who was also in The Wire, writes the introduction to the novel. Kind of unusual.
  • The movie, All The Way Home, was released in 1963 and was based on the novel.
  • James Agee was one interesting dude. He sadly died at the age of 45, in 1955, after suffering his second heart attack. More to come about Agee in the coming weeks.

As depressing as this book sounds, I’m excited about reading it. And I’m even more excited about digging into the life of James Agee, who grew up just a few hours away from me in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Any thoughts on A Death In The Family?


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