I am a huge Atwood fan and have read most of her novels. This was the first that I tried to listen to--"tried" is the operative word here: after about 20 minutes of listening, I became too frustrated with the incorporation of (terrible) music into the narration. I had to stop.
In general, the aesthetic choices are too dramatic for my taste. I listen to books only because I don't have time to read them. As such, I want my listening experience to be as close to a reading experience as possible. I just can't get this from dramatic readings. If you are a purist like me, you will probably not like this audiobiook.
I realize that some narration styles take a while to adjust to, and once you do adjust, it is almost always worth it. I will likely try to listen to this one again in a few months to see if it is less of a challenge. If that doesn't work, I know that Atwood novels tend to be pretty addicting and will just end up buying the book and reading it the old fashioned way.
This is a beautifully written book with dynamic, deeply human characters; although you might expect the story to focus on the protagonist, Golden, Udall invites us to understand them all (even the monogamists) as "the lonely polygamist." We end up empathizing with even the most seemingly unsympathetic characters, and Udall's portrayal of the world from eleven-year old Rusty's point of view is more powerful than any child-narration I can remember reading. The narration is excellent. Baker gives each character a lovely nuanced depth that supplements the writing and allows you to hear it as I imagine the author would want it to be heard.
I am struck by this book's sensitive and touching portrayal of a taboo and largely villanized lifestyle, without romanticizing or apologizing for it. I do not condone polygamy, but Udall's story has opened my eyes to the particular struggles of polygamists, humanizing them in ways I did not know possible. What is the purpose of literature if it is not to invite us to see each other anew? In this book we have a bit of Nabokov, to be sure.
The Lonely Polygamist is as entertaining as it is literary. If it has not already joined the annals of contemporary American classics, it should.
DeLillo is a master of weaving intricate motifs, themes, and conflicts, across time, space, and individual lives. The breadth of knowledge--historical, cultural, sociological, political, and psychological--DeLillo displays in this novel is truly brilliant. Although the connections are often a bit overdone (e.g., the nuanced manifestations of the "underworld"), this is somewhat characteristic of DeLillo's style and postmodern fiction.
This is a masterfully planned and executed postmodern classic.
Richard Poe's narration is fantastic, as always. He is such a talented artist.
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