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 loved this book when I was a young woman. It is a little old-fashioned but the writing is vintage Wouk. A plain story of a striving girl who knows what she wants, "Marjorie Morningstar" is probably best enjoyed as a printed book.
This audio version is NOT worth the high price. If you still want to purchase it after reading this review, do so with a credit. The reader ends every sentence (not an exaggeration) with a breathy downturn in her voice, as you might if you wanted to make a particularly emotional moment more poignant.
The best readers are those who read as if they have read the text many times before, who know not only what the words are and how to pronounce them, but know what how the particular sentence fits into the paragraph/page/chapter/greater story, too. They emphasize the right words, portray appropriate emotions with changes in their voice, etc. This narrator reads every sentence with the same gravitas, as if every sentence is a pronouncement, a key idea, a highlight. That cheapens every sentence and bores this reader, anyway.
I do not recommend this audio book.
This book is the non-fiction account of one grown up little girl's obsession with the mostly fictional "Little House" series of books, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane. The author makes several pilgrimages to the shrines and museums and 'homeplaces' that have been erected at various stopping points of the Ingalls' real 19th Century nomadic lives. It looks at the difference between people who read the books and people who only know the TV series. It pokes some fun at the people who live in "Laura World" all the time and those who, like the author, just want to experience it for a weekend or several weekends. It's a book I wish I had written.
I read this book in print form and really liked it; I only bought the audio because I thought I could enjoy listening to it more than once (one of the main criteria for purchasing an audiobook). WRONG! Teri Clark Linden is simply not up to the task of narrator. She reads as if she has not seen the material before: emphasizing a random word of a sentence; not emphasizing a key word; pausing in the middle of a sentence for no reason; making up stupid voices for incidental characters in the book, etc... The content of the book is really fascinating so the mangling of the narration was distracting and sometimes infuriating.
I would not recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read and been enchanted by at least some of the "Little House" books. You need an appreciation for the spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, even if you don't share the author's passion for ALL things Wilder. She makes a good case for not delving too deeply into childhood obsessions, by the way. Disillusionment lurks around every corner.
The book is sweet and sad and funny and touching. It's just too bad they (publisher? author?) chose this particular narrator. She makes the book sound badly written, even though I know it is not. A shame. Get a better narrator and I'd even buy the book again!
This is a compelling story and the author has done a good, if not stellar, job of telling it. It should be a slam dunk hit as an audio book.
My big problem is the narration. The recording is more than 7 hours long and just about every sentence is read in the same serious, dull, almost monotone voice, falling at the end of the sentence the same way each time. Whether the sentence is describing a routine baseball game, an exciting horseback riding adventure, a scary emergency room visit or even the world-changing morning of 9/11, the narrator reads it the same...slow...ponderous way. In addition, I noticed many times, especially in the beginning, where the narrator put the emphasis on the wrong word in a sentence, jarring the ear.
Great audio book recordings exist but this is not one of them. I wish I had read "Immortal Bird" in book form instead of wasting money on this recording. And by the way, why was this book so expensive?
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