I listened to the marvelous Audible production narrated by Robert Blumenfeld.
This is the third Nabokov book I've "read" and further elevates my appreciation of his intellect, imagination, and wry wit. He is the best surrealist I know of. His writing puts me in a great mood even while describing tragedies. Its twists and subtle perversions lead the me down odd alleys. His descriptions of the absurdity of everyday life as being so prevalent permeate my imagination in such a way that I almost became physically ill when removing the headphones and having insipid pop blaring from the public address illustrate his point.
His characters are easy to see. You follow them down slippery slopes to absurdity and, with them, wonder how you got there. Perhaps you see the not too subtle mole, but you don't see the absurd dance she'll perform.
This book was less absurd than Invitation to a Beheading but more than Lolita.
The first half seemed to be a universal tale of a person dealing with the dislocation of a personal loss trying to get his feet under himself while his community was going through a political spasm. Like Invitation, it portrayed society's inability to accept thinkers who don't conform and reform to the latest zeitgeist. Adam, the hero, didn't fully appreciate societal anti-bodies for nonconformists and presumed that his stature would protect him from the temporary tempest. Unlike Invitation, the hero had more at stake and more to value than himself. His weakness was not understanding that vulnerability until too late.
The second half appears to be an anti-Stalin tale and thus loses some of the first half's universalism. Nabokov wants us to know how absurd and little Stalin is. It's great writing with wondrous allegories, but I wanted to retain the first half's universalism.
It was fun imagining Roman era Britain although highly tinged w/ 21st century ideals. The story is a fun dime-store detective story which plays well enough.
Trying to summarize or appraise MLK's speeches seems irreverent and a false sense of being an equal. Listening carefully to his deep faith, deep sense of justice for all, fears, and call to everyone being better than we imagine we can be reaches a deep spiritual plain. This recording is worth a frequent repeat.
This narrator and book blew me away. The narrator has the patter down so well that the book is a narrative poem. The writing is existential and fatalistic while not being morose. It's a lighthearted telling of tragedy with exquisite language and imagery.
This edition includes the 21st chapter which is crucial at climaxing the existential crisis and is not a sellout. It is no Walt Disney redemption.
This edition also includes an intro and 3 chapters read by the author.
I found this translation and narration very crisp and engaging.
The story itself has high and low parts. I am constantly amazed at Dante's boldness in criticizing the church while worshiping in deep and honest reverence. His political and religious criticisms are very worthwhile to hear. It's only a shame that the events are too far removed from us to understand how these people and events fit into his world.
The imagery and constant imagination of Dante are without many equals. No one else has done any worthwhile imagining of Hell, Heaven, or Purgatory especially of Heaven. He manages to engage us and draw us in with vivid and personal descriptions.
The anachronism of the belief system is often a problem. I bristle at the vituperation heaped upon the tragic suicides. The paucity of grace and vindictiveness of god fall outside of my faith. I do love that he places Satan not as a victor but as the very deepest and most tortured prisoner.
Compared to the Kenny translation, I found this very hard to listen to. The language was much less engaging and the audio quality and narrator inflections made is much less engaging.
The narrator was superb. Parts of the story were superb. But, more than once, I felt continuity errors: for example, Tom goes to dinner several times with the therapist, paints his sister's apartment, visits and then gets banned from visiting his sister, complains about the length of the ban, and then says he's on his second week in NYC. Huh? Savannah supposedly has no recollection of major childhood events, but she spent over a week with Tom detailing these events in her journal just a few years ago. Huh? Also, the incredibility of the psychiatrist allowing Tom to take Savannah for an outing as his first reunion meeting after the ban and without supervision and without any joint therapeutic sessions was completely incredible.
I also felt, especially at the beginning, that some of the writing was just too dramatic: felt too sorry for itself in an unconvincing way. It didn't help that Tom's character as the jock and coach who somehow hid behind his brother rather than fight his own fights and also somehow was a gourmet cook, well-read intellectual, and emotionally stunted abused child just didn't fit together well.
The story was interesting and is a good hero myth (as told, not as far as truthfulness, I can't comment on how truthful its southern depiction is).
The story also brings out important themes:
- denial as a ineffective means to handle tragedy
- abuse as a devastating life-foundation. Actually, I found Tom too healed for his life story.
- greed and manipulation as unforgivable relationship destroyer.
- the desire of the abused to seek restoration with their abusers when the rest of us think they should flee and get restraining orders.
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