Tom Wolfe is top notch. Here is a fascinating story of race, politics, human capital, and the struggle of life, both ordinary and extraordinary, told from myriad perspectives. Nearly thirty years after its initial publication, the themes explored by the book will strike familiar chords in the wake of Enron, Lehman Brothers, and Anthony Wiener. The privileged screwing over the poor, self-destructive narcissism, the perils of ambition- all are present and examined with Wolfe's trademark low-key wit.
Ironic then that Joe Barrett's atrocious, arguably racist performance of the book will leave the listener scratching their head with questions related to the "post-racial" society in which it was recorded. White characters, including those with British, Bronx, and Yiddish accents are well within his wheelhouse and he performs these with aplomb. But when charged with rendering accurate portrayals of Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities, Barrett reverts to a comical southern drawl somewhere between Foghorn Leghorn and Uncle Remus. If you doubt my assessment, simply listen to the first five minutes in which the put-upon Mayor of New York is lambasted by Harlem hecklers, rendered in a dialect that makes the Black Crows from "Dumbo" seem like Jane Elliott by comparison.
I don't blame Barrett; he's a decent reader. His other work is better and this book was a real challenge. But the producers at Blackstone should be ashamed. It is unbelievable that this recording was produced in 2009 and released as-is. There are plenty of other performers (Dion Graham comes to mind) who could have delivered a better experience. Then again, considering that most audiobook listeners are White, affluent, and well-educated (including yours truly), it's no big surprise that the production values mirror the general indifference of the target demographic.
But not all is lost. At first, I was annoyed that the performance was distracting me from the content of the novel. But then the failings of the recording began to mirror the issues raised in the novel and I came to enjoy, even relish the surreal, recursive experience. Marshall McLuhan was right- the medium is the message, and that message is Ouroboros the snake, choking on its own racist tail from high above the digital divide. Hooray for the future!
I just could not finish it. I got about halfway through the second part and found myself feeling like I was on a forced march going "let's just get this one over with." At that point, why finish it? I think the story has promised based on the movie. Unfortunately, Wolfe goes into so much excruciating and unnecessary detail on the most mundane points that you lose focus on the story. Throw in a terrible narrator who overdoes almost every character and I simply could not take it and said, "Next!" Based on my experience with "Man in Full" many years, I should have been wary of another Tom Wolfe book. I won't make the mistake again.
I did not realize how broken I was until Wolfe showed me the light. It is important to be reminded that one cannot change human nature. And what about that narration!
A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
This had me gripped! I truly loved this book. There are so many other stories that got me hooked but being one of the newer ones it was easier and more fun for me. So many parts lasso me in because of the incredible description but though the older books are good it was so much better with this one being able to relate to all of the technical and mechanical stuff described.
It's a page-turner, or the audible counterpart.
There are no positive characters. It's hard to really like any of them, yet that's part of the fun Sherman exhibits some nobility and some growth -- that's all we can expect.
Joe Barrett was absolutely fantastic. He did all accents excellently. Really brought the book to life.
Toward the end it looks as though the innocent will prevail -- but that's too much to hope for in Tom Wolfe's world where nobody is truly innocent. There's a Dostoevskian cast to this modern American novel.
I work. I ski. I play. I write. I have a family. I garden. I coach. I volunteer. I sketch. I run. I read.
I have not read the print version. I saw the movie after listening to the book. As usual, the book is better.
I like the intertwined lives of the characters.
I like Sherman McCoy's criminal attorney.
I have no extreme reaction. However, it is highly enjoyable.
I'm going to look up more Tom Wolfe books.
I gave up listening to this before I was even halfway through, when I realized I was having to force myself to keep listening. I kept hoping something would spark my interest, but once you wade around the foul language and the men cheating on their wives or plannning on cheating on their wives, there was not much left. I think the narrator did it a disservice with the over-the-top voice for Sherman, made him even more unlikeable and hard to listen to. If I could go lower than 1 star, I would.
Boring, repetitive and painful. I'm bummed I wasted a credit on this download... I've listened for nearly 5 hours and I just cannot waste anymore time on this one.
Voracious reader since age 2. I give unbiased reviews in all genres: history, mystery, bios, crime, sci-fi - from front to BLACK!
If this were not Tom Wolfe, I'd only rated this "1 star". Unfortunately "0" is not an option. This is a clear case in which "the messenger" (a/k/a narrator) SHOULD be killed! After over 100 audiobooks, I can tell you that a narrator can make or break a book, even classics and best-sellers. I listened to actor Elliot Gould completely ruin a Raymond Chandler work while "The Help" and "I, Claudius" were totally enhanced by the excellent narration. Here, we have a great story with a lot of drama, comedy and sub-plots made unbearable by the cartoonish reading of it. It starts out with a scene in which African-American's sound like a stereotypical merging of "jive turkeys" and a bunch of minstrel coons. Guess what? More of us talk like just YOU do in real life than we are given credit for in audiobooks! We aren't all loud and crass as depicted in those horrid Tyler Perry films. At least in the hard copy of this story, the reader isn't forced to listen to some narrow-minded narrator's ridiculous idea of how HE thinks black people sound. While this narrator is very good at mastering a lot of different voices for the kazillion characters in this book, his overall reading is too light and silly for the subject matter. His "sound effects" (crying, sneezing, laughing, snorting, etc.) are way over-done and disturbing to the ear, especially one held captive by an iPod earbud. One wonders if the editors LISTEN to these books once they are recorded or just shove them onto the public. I couldn't finish this book - I had to throw in the towel about 1/3 of the way in. Author Tom Wolfe's masterpiece deserved so much more. I think I'll just READ the book again or watch the movie.
I have no idea.
I don't know could not tell exactly what the genre was.
Like a black and white movie when they first became talkies. Over acting.