Sometimes having the author read his or her own words can really add to the experience of listening to an audio book. And sometimes it doesn't. This was one of the occasions where the quality of the experience would have been greatly enhanced if someone - anyone - other than the author had been doing the reading. As patient as I tried to be with Mr. Abani, more often than not I found myself wanting to poke him hard - very, very, hard - in an attempt to get him to increase the speed of his reading; if nothing else, if he'd read faster this torturous experience (yes, I listened all the way to the end in the deluded hope that it might get better) would have ended sooner.
This is an extremely clever book filled with nuances and devices that would, I think, be better appreciated in the written form; to state the obvious, it's much easier to flip back in a book than it is to scan back on a listening device. But you (who am I kidding, I mean me; it's all about me) feel pretty darned smart while listening to the second half of the book when you find that not only do you really get it, but that you are also able to make "aha" connections between parts early on in the book that made almost no sense at the time. This isn't a mystery (although one of the stories within the book does take the form of a mystery, of sorts) but I often felt as if I would have been better able to keep up with the story if I had been taking notes; then again, that probably would have interfered with my ability to sleep on the subway while listening to some of this book. On an almost entirely positive note, some of the narration is excellent and the fact that the book is split up into six different stories with different narrators makes it very easy on the ear, if a little taxing on the brain.
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