Thought I was going to have to make finishing this novel one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
I did enjoy the book, even at my slow-paced reading of it. This does not reflect on the book, btw, but rather on some seriously involved writing time garnering all my creative forces.
The cons: Poor punctuation, looooong sentences and a bit repetitious detail of an event that almost makes it seem like it’s all happening in slow motion.
The pros: The depth of consideration into how the event changes the characters almost on an hour by hour basis as the reality of death comes to comprehension, acceptance, and being able to carry on with their own lives.
The minute attention to detail of feelings, of all the mish-mash of emotions that one feels when a life is taken from them, all this Agee covers intimately and on a level with each of the diversity of the characters. Catherine is only four and yet Agee appears to understand quite well what she would be thinking. Rufus is shown in a close relationship with his father and yet the sudden loss of it is something he attempts to hold onto in a different way. He appears to understand that his own life has changed tremendously and not just merely affected by his father not being there.
Agee was not afraid to bring the religious up against the non believers at this most appropriate of times. He was also aware of the different manners of faith and the often abused privilege of those who wore the Christian collar. The ending that has Rufus walking with his Uncle Andrew while Andrew tells him of a strange and wonderful experience at the cemetary is in sharp contrast to Father Jackson’s behavior there as well.
I can well see beyond the fairly mundane features of the telling of this story to why it has become a classic. It reaches way deep inside a family stricken by the tragic death of a loved husband and father to reach just as deeply inside the reader’s own experience.