There are certain novels and works of art that one simply must engage and come to terms with. Grapes of Wrath is among these works. Moving through the story certainly is a strain of political commitment that will be unpopular to some, eye-opening to others, and surprisingly lacking in our current political debates. Both the tale, and the facts of history recounted by the tale, are parts of American history. To be more deeply American, you could do worse than to become familiar with this novel.
AND, I can highly recommend the reading of Dylan Baker. He is a virtuoso of American dialects and timbres. His creativity in voicing the (many) characters deserves a special award. BRAVO, captivating. Keeping Tom Joad's voice close to Henry Fonda's was wise as it strengthens the resonance of the character.
Some here have criticized the harmonica, and they have a point. It is a bit high in the mix and sometimes jarring. But then, Steinbeck references and described the harmonica in the book, and it seems not so alien. It captures a different flavor. Imagine setting on the running board of your broke-down jalopy and the guy in the next tent slides 'er out of his pocket. And he puffs his cheeks like a son of a bitch and damn near wakes up the whole camp. You can almost smell the gasoline and woodsmoke. Like a lot of things, once you make your peace with it, you would miss it if it were gone.
Great work. Thanks to the producers, narrator, and author.
Retired former magazine editor who is working harder than ever as Mr. Dad to his 12-year-old daughter.
The ride on this story was magnificent. The destination left me a little wanting. I like closure in my stories and this one could have kept on going without missing a beat, although the conclusion probably has kept this book out of some classrooms. I don't remember this book being included in the curriculum in high school and I now realize some of its content was probably titillating to the point that it would be banned. The writing is so good, though, that I'm hopeful high school students today have the opportunity to read it. Although it was set in the 1930s, it could easily be adapted to modern times and many of the prejudices and settings would be applicable. I'm pleased that I finally took the time to listen to this Steinbeck work. Well worth my time and credit.
This is a superb reading of one of the most compelling and well-written books of American literature. I wanted a book that would be good for a long trip, and it's certainly that. But I had no idea how much I would be drawn into the story of the Joads and of the destruction wrought by the disks of the combines. There are timely and cogent lessons here for us today, with entire states turned over to a mono-culture of corn. But forget the lessons, forget that it is literature, forget that you read it because you had to in school. Read this book because you can't put it down. Even when you know it all ends badly, you _care_.
I don't usually bother to rate books that have a lot of reviews, and since this book is a classic, I am sure it will get lots of reviews. I am 54 years old, and somehow I never read this book. I am giving this book a solid five stars, but I wanted to comment on the harmonica playing that many people said they didn't like. For some reason, I thought it actually added something to this book - normally I am somewhat indifferent to sound effects and music in audio books, but I thought it was very fitting in this book, and I did not find the volume objectionable. Having said this, I gave the book 5-stars; I am not rating the harmonica playing.
In "The Grapes of Wrath" Steinbeck tells of the story of the Great Dust Bowl. To tell it in both a personal and national perspective he alternates his chapters between the story of the Joad family and the broader story of the land and nation. Because he alternates the storytelling in this way, I thought the harmonica interlude spurned by many of the reviewers would actually be welcome, signaling the change from the personal story of the Joads to the collective story of the land and its inhabits.
It was NOT welcome, but jarring. The harmonica was recorded so much louder than Dylan Baker, the narrator, that a number of times it literally made me jump, so startling and out of place did it sound.
Dylan Baker did a great job of differentiating between the characters, but the cadence was so slow I sped it up on my Kindle.
I eventually gave up on this version and read the book.
"Grapes of Wrath" is well worth the read, and maybe a listen, but not this version.
I am a long-time Steinbeck fan. I've read literally everything he's written, including the odd, hard to find science logs and short stories. Getting to listen to this book after reading it a decade ago was a real treat. I enjoyed every minute. The narrator really added to this story. The way he pronounced "family" and "Rose of Sharon" made me feel like he had met the Joad family and traveled with them to make sure he got it all just right.
Listening to it now, in the middle of the current Presidential race, I appreciated Steinbeck's hubris in making his political views crystal clear.
The story is a classic for a reason.
Since discovering audible, my life is richer. I live in a small rural KS community, with higher than average IQ which can be a bad combo at times. Audible allows me to be myself.
I had never read or listened to this book. After reading East of Eden I thought now was the time to get this behind me. The book was not as good as E of E in my opinion, and the harmonica between the chapters made me cringe but it is a classic and I would recommend it. The ending was perhaps the best of all.
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
There's a reason this is considered a CLASSIC. Trust me, you won't be disappointed. The writing is some of the best descriptive writing of all time. Steinbeck really puts you IN with these destitute individuals. You feel their pain, see their tears, and live their heartache. This book will not leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, BUT it will make you appreciate what you have. Narrator is outstanding.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
I'm glad I waited to read this until I was in my late 30s, with kids, during the Great Recession and OWS.