Though the characters and their circumstances are a bit cliché, Tom Wolfe's observations have a real bite and still inform the current events of today, God help us... Listening to Joe Barret read is a marvel--loved his work on Owen Meany and this is even better!
This was a pleasant surprise. Enjoyed the dismantled modern cast system. Society is so fickle.
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!
Toronto, Canada. Audible enthusiast since 2001.
This book was described as a modern classic and that is an apt description. It is densely packed with meaning, metaphor and issues -- perfect for studying in literature classes! None of the characters are at all likeable, which is usually a recipe for a bad book. But they are understandable, and it becomes clear through the story that abstract justice is a concept on no one's mind, while getting what one "deserves" is at the forefront of everyone's agenda. As each struggles to get what they deserve and use each incident to further their own objectives, it becomes clear that "reality" is constructed by a mash-up of disconnected people pursuing their disconnected motives simultaneously, and justice plays no part. An interesting book!
Great story about urban greed; social, financial and civic power grabs; still fresh, absurd and funny twenty-five years after publication.
1) Peter Fallow 2) Reverend Bacon 3) Tommy Killian
This was a brilliant narration by Joe Barrett - he brought to life an astonishing variety of characters and accents, making this as a superbly enjoyable way of experiencing this classic, Regan-era American novel.
An absolutely brilliant performance of an absurdly compelling story. Even Carly Simon couldn't bring this human foible to light any better. Makes you wonder what would any verdict be "in foro conscientiae" (epilog).
Business owner , philanthropist.
You feel for the main character after awhile, even though he is a jerk. It had some good observations of the justice system that were defiantly good. Just few and far between.
Those who are more interested in racial or economic politics. Or men.
Not necessarily. I just couldn't connect to the characters.
Joe does an EXCELLENT job. His dialects are almost flawless and each character has a very distinct voice so I rarely got confused about who was speaking.
It was very thorough. The author did not leave out any details.
Tom Wolfe is obviously a good writer, just incredibly verbose. His descriptions go on and on, sometimes at the expense of the plot or character development. After a while, I just wanted to say, "Get on with it!"
My husband has been listening to this book. He says it is a whole different world. It was slow going for him at first but now that he is connected into it--he has completely tuned me out and is listening at every chance. Be warned--lots of profanity
Great performance. Could work on speaking women's voices, but other than that - truly enjoyable.
So versatile! Rev. Bacon... great job.