My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
This is a short but profound meditation on the moments that can bring a sense of reconciliation and redemption to our lives, and how we misunderstand or misinterpret even those we are closest to. I remain somewhat mystified as to why he chose to base this, however loosely, on actual historical persons, or why he dislocated them in time from their actual historical dates. For that matter, I remain mystified as to why the book's internal timeline refuses to behave itself. None of this detracts from the beauty and concision of this gem of a book.
The recording has mysteries of its own. Sam Waterston is a fine actor and his reading is full of expressive nuances, but for some reason the sound is muddy. I can't tell if this is because it's an old transfer from tape, or if Mr. Waterston's voice is pitched oddly, or because he lacks that special clipped diction that makes other readers more listenable. Maybe my hearing is just suffering from old age.
McCullers does a wonderful thing in this book. She manages to convey the idea that all these plot threads and characters are interconnected, when in fact they are all isolated. John Singer is the point of connection and therein lies an endless source of contemplation about the loneliness of existence. This is a carefully observed book. There is a constant awareness of how each character see's him- or herself, and how they see each other or what they project onto each other. It's the kind of nuanced, uncomfortable scrutiny that you won't find in a lot of other authors.
maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind. I know this is one of the giants of modern literature, the prose is brilliant, the exposition is brilliant, the one and only real character is brilliantly detailed and nuanced, but the subject just didn't resonate with me. OK, so it's the biggest most important subject in the world. Yes, I agree with that. It is also, within the boundaries of this book, a very tiny exploration of a specific perspective on that subject. Maybe audio just isn't the right medium for a first trip through this book. It's the kind of book that requires you to just stop and savor each thing the author says.