"Dark Places" had the misfortune to be read right after I had read "Twilight," by William Gay. The latter, a near masterpiece by a writer who is the near equal of Cormac McCarthy, himself the near equal of William Faulkner, makes "Dark Places" seem like a piece of tabloid journalism. Mr. Gay could give Ms. Flynn a lesson or two in darkness. He could also teach her how to write sentences that dazzle you with their brilliance. "Dark Places" is at least a hundred pages too long, which means that many scenes are bloated, and the novel never acquires forward momentum.
Or Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, or even Lee Smith. I read only two or three of Spencer's stories, but they were as slow and languid as a Mississippi June. Maybe that's the point, but I like stories and sentences that are a little more energetic.
I didn't notice until I downloaded it that it's an abridged version. This is not the type of book, in either length or content, that can benefit from being abridged.
...and nice capsule biographies, not only of the four main figures--Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Edna Millay--but all the best writers of the time, including F. Scott, Edmund Wilson, and of course Hemingway. Zips along at a high rate of speed, pausing now and then to make you laugh at the zingers these ladies could produce.
This is easily the best version of the book I've tried. It is crisp, clear, focused and fast. By fast, I mean that it has narrative drive and speed, and never loses your interest. At 20 hours, it is the ideal length. In a book that needed surgery, the guy knew exactly where to cut. Not only is it abridged, however, it has been revised. The best thing he did was to dispense with the Russian patronymic. For example, he calls Ivan "Ivan," not "Ivan Fydorovich," which is an earful as well as a mouthful. Without sacrificing richness or depth--without sacrificing what makes Dostoevsky great--it reads like a contemporary novel in English, not a big, shaggy bear of a novel from the 19th century. I wish he'd do the same for "War and Peace."
Krist wrote a gripping prologue but then the narrative crashed to the ground on the first page of the first chapter. Bogged down by detail, it is dry and dull. All the helium leaked out of the story and it never took off again.
Gielgud hams it too much, reading as if he were on stage, trying to emote. More concerned with his interpretation than he is with the meter, he may be a good actor but he doesn't understand the music of verse.
I can't hear you because, as others have mentioned, the narrator felt he had to shout when giving voice to Gus McCrae. I really like the book so far, but the shouting is hard to bear. I hope I can get used to it.
The audio of this great poem is compromised by two problems: piano music intrudes at the end of each section, drowning out the words for a stanza at a time, and the narrator, Robert Bethune, turns in an eccentric performance. His reading isn't bad exactly, as his pacing is good and he stresses the right syllables. However, his voice has a slightly nasal tone, and he has a tendency to swoop and soar, coming dangerously close to a sing-song delivery. While this can be a little annoying, it is still much better than having no poem at all. Maybe I'll get used to it.
Sometimes when you read a classic, especially a classic in translation, it's hard to tell exactly why it's a classic. That isn't a problem here. The ghost of Virgil was hovering over Dryden when he rendered this epic in rhymed couplets. And the ghost of Dryden hovered over Michael Page when he delivered his vigorous narration.
The audio quality of this play, one of Shakespeare's most lyrical, is, at best, highly erratic, ranging from good to nearly inaudible. It sounds as if the engineers had the use of only one microphone, which they placed in the center of the stage. As a result, depending on his position, an actor's lines will be either amplified or almost completely lost.
So there goes another wasted credit. Thanks, Audible. You make me want to try piracy.
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