Loved this book. True it takes some work to keep all the characters and plot lines clear, but each section, each paragraph and sentance is a chance to be delighted with a precise, playful description or honestly delivered revelation of character. The reader, Dick Hill is great. His multiple voices bring a smile and help keep everyone straight. I've downloaded dozens of books from Audible: this is one of my favorites, and one of the best readers on the team.
Plot in a novel is overrated. If you want plot, read Dan Brown instead- though that's all you'll get.
This is a work of genius- and not only because of the author's penchant for self-promotion and intentional obscurity and obfuscation.
This is truly a piece of art painted with intentionally hammy techniques and wonderful surreal and non-linear streams of consciousness. All of these things dance around the sensation of the characters, the essence of spirit that the author wishes to share with those who can sense it.
I laughed when a reviewer preferred to go back to Ulysses instead. Well, that's a mighty difficult yardstick for each and every novel to stand comparison. It's like comparing every portrait to the Mona Lisa.
Full disclosure: this was my first reading of a complete Pynchon novel. I'm not a literary snob and don't feel the need to crow about how much better his other works are. Some folks more learned and well-read than I am have said Gravity's Rainbow is far superior. Great- more to explore!
For me, this is one of the most wonderful author "discoveries" since I first read Kafka.
I advise anyone who really cares to read this book on the printed page where it won't be polluted by Dick Hill's intrusive and cloying narration. I tried to listen, but a giving up because I can't bear another minute of Hill.
Pynchon, YES! Dick Hill never again
No by Dick Hill.
A serious and discrete narrator.
It will be fantastic if you open two categories....
1) similar experience to read yourself ( beautiful tool)
2) similar experience to hear a terrible movie about the book ( caricaturesque version)
A voice that could be listened to.
Trying to get into the story line and being unable to concentrate on it. How can all the characters have voices changing in adolescence? Dick Hill's voice is one thing but all his attempts to change that voice is unbearable.
I have no idea what the book is even about.
I love long books but this was too poor to even get a feeling for the story.
Outstanding. I have the unabridged transferred-from-cassette version of Gravity's Rainbow which is a magisterial tour de force, but this Audiobook is not far behind, I find the audio quality is mediocre, though, the voice fluctuating in volume as if wavering. Also, the breaks between parts is not seamless.
I would also recommend Ron McLarty's reading of Inherent Vice, which Audible seem to have ignored. That is a work of genius, both author and narrator.
Dick Hill makes every sentence count, and manages to find the right pitch for every occasion.
The narrator's work on this book deserves to be recognized as one of the great audio performances. Showing infinite patience with an interminable book, the narrator keeps the characters distinct, employing different voices. By bringing out the pathos and humor in each character, he shows that he understands Pynchon's book, or is at least willing to try. His rendering of the Archduke's offensive jokes, for example, is so hilarious that I listened to it about ten times before moving on. I don't think I could have gotten through this book without the narrator's performance, much less keep the narrative straight.
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
It was too soon for me to read "Against the Day" by Thomas Pynchon. I should had waited and read some of his other books from his back catalog first before I listened to this epic novel. This is only my second book from this author and I have nothing bad to say because I really like his style of writing.
Against the Day takes part after the first World War and expands through the globe and the story is all over the map. It's historical fiction with romance and a slight glimmer of tech which makes it good.
Like most epic novelist, Pynchon writes each of his characters to be the main character in each sub story to the main plot. The book tends to grow on you overtime and wear you out because of its great length. There were times where I couldn't wait to start where I left off and there were times where I needed to take a break to regroup my thoughts and listen again.
This is no fault to Thomas Pynchon because it's just the attention span to the reader when they are reading over a thousand pages or listening to 53 hours on a book. It is how most readers are. We just need to take a break.
My take of "Against the Day" is positive. I really liked how the story flows. I would had enjoyed the book more if I was more familiar of Pynchon's work, but from the two books that I've read so far, I really liked his style. I like his uneven storytelling the most. It's like having a floor puzzle with pieces all over and at the last spoken word, you hope to see the whole picture.
Even after spending quite some time with this audiobook, I have still yet to see the overall picture. I'm sure that the image will come to me after I read more of his classics. Against the Day is not my favorite title in my library and I can see why most listeners takes months to finish the book, but it is not my worst either.
No doubt this is an amazing piece of work, but it's too long and complicated to easily follow on audio. The three stars aren't for the story, but for the story on audio. There are many charactors that come and go, and I could have used an atlas of characters (or a hard copy book) to be able to go back from time to time to get me back on track. Still the story is so creative and fantasic and well written that I continued to enjoy the book despite having become confused as to who was who many times. I'd suggest you listen to one of Pynchon's shorter books, and if you enjoy his style, buy this book in hard copy.
Expatriate American academic with high, middle, and low-brow taste.
Unlike other reviewers, I think plot is indispensable for good storytelling. Thus, I found this book frustrating. I listened, following along with the text, and consulting the websites where passionate fans chew on the intriguing set pieces that Pynchon offers. The many settings, characters, networks, and theories never cohere, and most of them never connect into any overall thematic or allegorical meaning. But there's lot of richly ambiguous symbolism, a sort of alchemical semiotic miasma using light, day, gold, silver, abstract math (fourth dimension, quaternions), and doublings (paired characters, worlds, realities). This book seems to be an attempt to tell a story set in the past that is emphatically non-historical insofar as history is defined as a grand narrative. There's no God-like narrator, no attempt to frame the individual stories within a larger sense of the historical moment. Instead, there's an unmasterable heap of details and small plots, similar to the way that life is really experienced. There's a lot of wacky humor, such as an opera entitled The Burgher King, a Middle Eastern assassin named Al Mar-Faud, dressed in English hunting tweeds and a shotgun, ("Gweetings, gentlemen, on this Glowious Twelfth!), and very little of the urgency and tragedy that I need in a novel of this length to keep me interested. I forced myself through this book because I'm interested in the ideas and in the potential of experimental postmodern narrative.
The narrator is stupendous, bringing this very difficult book to life with an astounding array of accents deployed consistently. He also pronounces the dozens of obscure and foreign phrases accurately, a remarkable feat. Most importantly, he achieves an understated tone of muted irony that perfectly matches that of Pynchon.