Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book Review - The Reivers

This is the final post in a series of six daily posts where I've shared book reviews. I regularly share reviews of the books I read, however so far this year I've mainly only been sharing reviews of the Pulitzer prize winners and the free books (I receive in exchange for an honest review) that I've completed. This week I'm catching up with reviews so I'll have a review for each book I've read. Check out my Books Read page to see a list of the books I've read, and click on any book title to check out my review.

This year one of my goals is to read the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction and review them here on my blog. So far, I've completed 9 of the 60 books on the list.

The Reivers by William Faulkner, the 1963 winner, was another very slow read for me. The story is told from the point of view of Lucius Priest, looking back to the time he was 11-years-old in 1905. He and Boon (who works in the Priest's livery stable) and Ned (the family's black coachman) borrow steal his grandfather's brand new automobile and take a trip to Memphis. The stream of consciousness format made this difficult to follow at times as he is telling the story to his son, talking about his grandfather (which would have been the son's great-grandfather), interrupting himself to explain who individuals are and how things are now as compared to then. There are lots of supposedly funny parts to the story, but the fact that they start out in Memphis in a house of ill repute where Boon's friend lives/works obviously adds some rather questionable content to the story. When Ned trades the grandfather's car for a horse, it leads to horse racing, betting, racist remarks, arrests, etc.

This is definitely not a book I'll be reading again and not one I would recommend. Here's an example of the writing style - this is ONE sentence describing the time they were trying to get the car out of a mud hole.

Not nightmarish: just dreamlike - the peaceful, quiet, remote, sylvan, almost primeval setting of ooze and slime and jungle growth and heat in which the very mules themselves, peacefully swishing and stamping at the teeming infinitesimal invisible myriad life which was the actual air we moved and breathed in, were not only unalien but in fact curiously appropriate, being themselves biological dead ends and hence already obsolete before they were born; the automobile: the expensive useless mechanical toy rated in power and strength by the dozens of horses, yet held helpless and impotent in the almost infantile clutch of a few inches of the temporary confederation of two mild and pacific elements - earth and water - which the frailest integers and units of motion as produced by the ancient unmechanical methods, had coped with for countless generations without really having noticed it; the three of us, three forked identical and now unrecognizable mud-colored creatures engaged in a life-and-death struggle with it, the progress - if any - of which had to be computed in dreadful and glacier-like inches.

Have any of you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments. (Click here to see all my book reviews.)


  1. Ah Faulkner! Couldn't finish anything by him. Good on you for persevering.

  2. I read this book at university and although I did enjoy it it's not my favourite Faulkner by far. That would be The Sound and the Fury which I love

  3. It was the style to use lots of BIG descriptive words i guess. Makes you wonder, however, about the criteria for judging Pulitzer Prize winners.


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