the meandering quality of chabon's tale isn't unlike the the long pace of a baseball game, but that's kind of his point. he packs a whole lot of world mythology into the yarn, much of which will be lost on the younger listener, but what fun way to be introduced to coyote, the world tree, apple lawn (avalon) and ragged rock (ragnarok), among so many others. the story sometimes gets a bit too clever for its own good, but chabon always returns to the center of his heroes' quests. and it's true, the author gives a pretty great read.
The writing is atrocious. Sad to think that this hyperbolic crap is being fed to kids. The story is shamelessly derivative. It reads like a 7th grade creative writing assignment that should have gotten a C. Words are consistently misused. Hard to believe that a major publisher was involved with this book - was there no budget for an editor or a proofreader? It could have been passable story in the hands of a competent writer. Everyone involved with the publishing of this book ought to be ashamed of themselves - alas they are all contentedly sitting atop a huge pile of money. Please don't buy a copy - you'll just encouraging them.
No, if anything it reaffirms how good the genre can be.
I admired her ability to soldier through this garbage
the author, the publisher
i recommend this reading very highly. heathcote williams gives an excellent read, delivering the text with precision and clarity, personifying each character neatly. the divine comedy is arguably the jewel in the crown of the western canon and is a book that requires a lifetime of reading and rereading. it is a real joy to hear it read in full, so competently.
that said, you need to do some studying to appreciate the book. the text is not as difficult as shakespeare - but dante makes heavy references to the politics and popular stories of his own times. If you do not come to this story as a student, with explanatory notes and a willingness to study, you will be frustrated. but do the homework. the divine comedy is one of the great treasuries of human experience.
so, yes, i really enjoyed listening to the book. my only complaint is that the translator isn't credited - a shame for both the listener, who wants to read along and for the translator who deserves the credit.
i am no expert, but i liked the translation. the text is rendered in prose, and it sounds natural and unforced to my ear. i think that this is the version to go with if you serious about listening to the whole work. the pinsky/cleese version is very, very good- both the translation (pinsky is a superb poet) and cleese's read (fun & lively - he obviously loves the book) but it is an abridged version. if you're only passingly interested in the inferno, i'd go with that. but why invest all the effort required, if only for a fraction of a fraction? and the other version with a woman reading it is as knuckle-headed an idea as i can imagine: the text is written the first person, in dante's voice - why would you cast the role as a woman? it’s as stupid an idea as having a man read molly bloom.
anyhow... heathcote williams gives a great read, reads an unabridged version and reads all three poems. i look forward to taking the entire journey with him.
john steinbeck loved this book too, and wrote: "I think my sense of right and wrong, my feeling of noblesse oblige, and any thought I may have against the oppressor and for the oppressed came from [Le Morte D'Arthur]."
this is a book that will take you a life time of reading and rereading (and listening too). it is packed with adventure that is immediately accessible and dense allegory that you can chew on endlessly. it is the definitive, encyclopedic version of the arthurian cycle, and therefore long. but don't shortchange yourself with an abridged version. the strange little tales at the corners that don't make the abridged versions are the ones you'll find yourself coming back to time and again. you already know the big names like lancelot & arthur, but it's the lesser known names like gareth, kay and pellinor who you'll fall in love with.
but wit thee well, my liege, this book requires a bit of an investment on your part. the language is high english and will be foreign to the impatient ear - not quite as tricky as shakespeare, but you will have to brush up your mallory nonetheless. yet if you give it a chance, and use your olde english dyctionarie, you'll make a friend & companion for life.
my only criticism is of the reader. in general frederick davidson does a fine job, handling the language with aplomb and clarity. he transitions well between characters, so it is easy to follow who is speaking. but there is an certain uniformity to the pace of the reading that keeps it in the realm of a "reading", and not "storytelling". he also at times veers into a vocal pattern that (in my opinion) is oddly arch and affected. i recommend this version, but i think there is another, better reader out there - one with a real passion for the story. maybe it is derek jacoby, but seriously, why bother with an abridged version? personally, I want to hear my favorite medieval scholar giving it a read… may i recruit terry jones?
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