The book itself is a good piece of 19th century American realism. The quality of the recording, however, is poor. The narrator has peculiar inflections that take some getting used to; even worse, the technical quality of the recording is poor -- every 45 minutes the quality of the recording alternately deteriorates and improves -- I suspect this comes from the original tape version of the narration. The book should be re-narrated, or at least the recording re-mastered.
I will let the hundreds of other reviews speak to the book itself. I want to review the narration by David Pittu, which is superb. His pacing, his slightly gravelly voice, and his consistent and spot-on handling of dialogue are outstanding. I've been listening to audio books for over twenty years, and this is one of the best performances I've heard.
OK, two comments about the book itself: good but not great. A great book would have eliminated the final thirty minutes or so of moralizing and let the listener draw her own conclusions about the deeper meanings. And as many other reviewers have commented, shorter would have been better.
This production is a mixed bag.
Contents: This is not a "complete" collection of Poe's short stories, but it does cover the highlights. It is accompanied by a helpful downloadable .pdf file listing the contents.
Subject Matter: If you like Poe, this is a representative collection of his best-known works. IMHO, Poe hasn't aged well. His preoccupation with beautiful women, death, and the macabre seems tame and predictable by today's standards. But these stories paved the way for much that came later, including Sherlock Holmes and the Gothic horror genre. A few of the tales are humorous, but the humor plays off particular mid-nineteenth-century preoccupations and interests, and seems dated and forced.
Performance: The narration is poor. I suspect that this is an old production made during the early days of audio books. I agree with other reviewers who note that the narrator frequently mispronounces words, both foreign and English. I disagree with the reviewers who think the narrator has an appropriate style -- I thought he was overly dramatic and florid. I think the horror and surprise of these stories could have been better conveyed by underplaying, rather than overplaying, the drama.
Unlikeable characters, poorly thought out plot (really none, at all), banal writing, melodramatic reading.
Only if the book was well written
None. Really a waste of time.
I read this on faith because Olive Kitteridge was so good. Ms Strout should stick to what she does best—short stories.
The three stories included in this collection are classic examples of nineteenth century American realism. The narration, however, is awful -- among the worst I have heard in over twenty years of listening to audio books. This is not your typical audio book. It includes an informal introduction and afterword to each story, as if the narrator were teaching a high school literature class. The narration itself contains mispronunciations, halts, stumbles, lack of inflection, and incorrect emphasis. It doesn't appear to have been edited. The narrator comments that he has changed some of the text of the stories to make them easier to listen to, and states that he has left in some of the stumbles to illustrate the differences between the audio and the written versions. The entire production seems amateur.
I would recommend the stories, but not this version. All of these stories are available on audible.com with other narrators.
Just about everything.
I was disappointed. The narration was so bad that I found myself focusing on it instead of the stories.
... as I listened to this book. This gifted writer made me feel, smell, taste, touch her new experiences as she transforms her life from urban sophisticate to farmer. Humorous and elegaic, a pure delight. The reader, Tavia Gilbert, gives perfect voice to this story.
Even if Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are peripheral or unknown to you, this history of the life and times of these two artists will overpower you with its richness, gentleness and authenticity. Smith is a true poet-storyeller and her resonant voice, her gift of language, her honesty, even her accent create a powerful remembrance. This is a perfect book to read by ear. It is one of the best I have ever heard.
This would be a four or five-star book, if it were not for the inexcusable and frequent skips in the second half of the production, which are not only disconcerting, but sometimes make it difficult to follow the narration. This edition should be withdrawn and the production remastered or re-narrated.
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