Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: A Death in the Family

I cannot imagine a better book than this one that is about the effects of death on the living. James Agee's writing is devastatingly precise and clinical without being detached. His descriptions of the ways emotions ripple through to the surface are so accurate that this book by itself shows that it's true, the deepest things are not the most particular, but the most universal. It's even got a clever narrative structure that gives the reader the same shock as the characters in a certain way. He always seems to approach faith from the outside-in (like everything else, in fact) but it is there nonetheless and I'm not sure if there's a writer better at simultaneously conveying both faith and its opposite. His children have no precocious adult-sense about them, they are truly children. This is a hard book to get through simply because it spells out what death does to a family in inexcruciating detail. In other words, it's a hard book to get through because it is so good.

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