The opening chapter was brilliant, original, and engaging; very reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's _Notes from Underground_ but significantly new at the same time. The novel as a whole maintains a tacit Dostoyevskian tendency to constantly consider ambiguities of action and interpretation that seem honest throughout--you can really believe in this character. And yet the actual narrative is clear, not muddy like Henry James or other authors who might fit this same description.
The opening chapter; the book begins in media res, and you wonder throughout how we're ever going to get back to the beginning, which is fascinating in itself.
Overly dramatic, widely varying volume, impressive range of character voices
No; I couldn't stomach it for more than an hour at a time.
Joe Morton has a truly impressive and useful range of character voices throughout, but he puts way too much dramatic emphasis on every paragraph of the whole novel, and it's just frustrating. Whereas on a scale from Robot (0) to Melodrama (10) I like my books to be about a 5, 6 or 7, he's a consistent 8. (For comparison, I'd put Jim Dale at a 6.) It makes the whole book sound like it's full of caps, italics, and ellipses, and it's just way too overstimulating. I can handle listening to the whole book, but only in 20-60 min. snippets at a time.
One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope
This classic novel stirred my soul like the rhythmic boom-boom-boom of a marching band looming at the tail of a blooming float.
While he meticulously plotted INVISIBLE MAN, Ralph Ellison successfully styled this classic in many ways as a virtuoso in jazz improvisation, conjuring fertile imagery in lush and metrical prose. The book centers on an unnamed narrator, the Invisible Man, as he is expelled from an African-American university in the American South, goes to New York City and is recruited by the lily-white Communist "brotherhood."
While reading, it may seem the book is primarily a story about African Americans and beefs with the American Marxists, but I found it to be more of a clarion call to the educated disillusioned and disenfranchised, young and old ("Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?"), to follow their own drum and walk away from the flock ("there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers").
The book's essence is captured, I think, by a couple of passages:
"What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?
I was pulled this way and that for longer than I can remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man."
INVISIBLE MAN, which won the 1953 National Book Award, is a provocative and tense classic, just as relevant in 2016 as it was 63 years ago.
I'm not done with this book yet. I'm not even half way through, but I just have to stop to say Joe Morton is enthralling in this role. He's a one man theater group performing the roles of each character, imprinting each one in my head, with full dimensions, and subtleties. He impels the listener with a rolling smoldering intensity from the beginning, to follow the protagonist's journey, to be transformed, to realizet he is invisible, and what that is, in explicit, complex, glaring terms.
This is one of those classics that is dated in many ways. The story is a mess in many respects - it is intriguing more
In a philosophical way than as a piece of writing. The bigger issue, however, is the reader. I can't stand when readers really act out parts. This one was significantly overdone.
Ralph Ellison has a wonderful grasp for passionate stream of thought. Some of the plotting seems a bit writerly but it's entertaining and nothing quite like anything else I've read. I gave the story 4 stars instead of 5 because after finishing I just felt it could have been a little tighter. But don't get me wrong. If you are looking for something different and want a great reader, listen to it. I'm guess Joe Morton played this part is a play because he went above and beyond.