Yes. The stories had interesting forms, moving ideas, and revealed a sensitive portrayal of the ordinary human being.
The quirky style and the heartfelt understanding of people.
His own accent, his midwestern rhythm of speech, his own portrayal of the characters as he imagined them.
This may be a great book with great stories but I will never know because I had to turn it off after about 30 minutes. George Saunders may be a great writer but I will bet most listeners will not last the whole book.
You might think an author reading his own words would lend some magic or special understanding to the work (think Dylan Thomas or Stephen King or Garrison Keillor) but not in this case. He may know just what to emphasize or just where to go quiet, but he is inept as a reader, in my opinion. Saunders reads so fast that whole passages are lost. He reads with such a pronounced lisp that words mash together in a syllabant stew, losing even more meaning. I'm NOT making fun of his speech pattern but it is so annoying to listen to it makes me think he (or the publisher) should have chosen someone with a pleasant voice that conveys the emotion as well as the meaning of the words.
It's really too bad because this is probably one of those books that works better in print than on audio. The media is touting this as one of the best books of the year but I suggest you get the real book, even an e-book, but skip the audio.
I found the narration to be pretty good. With a few exceptions, I like it when authors read their own material. I think he did a good job with pacing and tone.
To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this book. The first couple of stories are good because they are fresh and new, especially for a first-time Saunders listener. The plots are intriguing and presented in a good way - a key word here, a phrase there - like slowing opening a present by the corners. But it just started getting repetitive. The characters seemed so similar, their situations were different in the details but not that different in the nature of the conflict. The internal conversations of the characters went from interesting and entertaining to repetitive and predictable. A couple of times while I was listening in my car, I found myself talking to the narration saying, "Yes, I get it. Move on!"
It seems like a lot of people like this book, so who am I to say. I don't usually write reviews, but wanted to give me thoughts, for what they're worth (probably not much).
An avid reader who works too much to actually read in the traditional manner she now consumes audiobooks at her job, driving, and running.
I was not familiar with George Saunders before this collection of short stories were released. I first came in contact with them when my uncle gave me his copy that he had finished reading a year ago. I read the first story, became distracted by life, and always meant to pick the book back up again to finish. It wasn't until I found it on Audible that I've been able to finally finish the collection. And oh my, what a collection it is.
These stories are not for those looking for an easy read. They demand our attention in order to fully soak up all they have to offer. I normally cannot stay still when I listen to audiobooks--I usually clean or workout when I listen to audiobooks--but this collection had me stopping and just LISTENING. I grabbed my physical copy of the book, grabbed a six pack of beer, and just sat outside on my porch listening Saunders read his work aloud. There were points that I consulted the physical copy of the book--Saunder's stories may seem simplistic at first but the hold a labyrinth of layers that the listener can easily get lost in. And it shouldn't be ignored that Saunders writes with artistic flair--using the equal sign (=) instead of writing out 'equal' and other such stylistic touches that help a writer evoke a certain tone and mood of a story. Pair up that stylistic writing with listening to how Saunders emphasizes and uses different vocal sounds to enhance the listening experiencing really helps to make the stories that much more dynamic and full.
The collection as a whole deals with the concept of human inadequacies and human goodness despite those inadequacies. None of these characters are heroes or extraordinary, but they are in circumstances that call for action of some sort. Whether the choices they make are right or wrong remains to be seen (in some cases), but the choices they make are realistic choices. The reality that these characters live in are not a happy one and there's very little control that they have over that, but there is a pivotal moment where a decision has to be made.
There are ten stories in total with this collection and all of them are well worth listening/reading. I do have my favorites though.
This short story starts off the collection and mingles the joy of adolescent daydreaming, the resentment of overbearing parents, and the sick, self-righteous mindset of kidnapper and rapists. The moral dilemma faced by the teenage boy and later the girl are stark compared to the sick ramblings of a delusional man.
Escape from Spiderhead
Hands down, this was my favorite one out of the collection. An eerie glimpse of how human emotion can be stripped away, built up, and manipulated all in the name of "Science". It's a reproach on the over dependence and growing problem the nation is having with prescription pills but at the same time it's a magnificent look at how despite these manipulations and tinkering the core that makes us human, that makes us good, cannot be completely destroyed.
The Semplica Girl Diaries
This is a world of human trafficking, objectification of women, dehumanization of immigrants and third world citizens, and the ridiculous need to possess more material goods than our neighbors--and this short story makes sure to encompass all of that and more. What really makes this short story magnificent is the raw and simplistic manner in which it's told. The father is a struggling, working man who's main concern is the well being of his children. He tries to be a man whom his family can depend upon, but the methods he use and the decisions he makes casts him as hapless child himself trying to keep up with the uncaring school pack.
Serious adult subject matter read as a children's book. This is an example where the author shouldn't have narrated the story.
Could've been split into three shorter stories. I found it hard to fellow.
Have a renewed interest in books after falling in love with audio books. I am listening to all different genres and exploring different authors.
I realize that this book received high reviews in 2013. However, in this compilation of short stories, I only really liked the first short story. I wish that first story could have been longer.