Sticking it out. I needed to get into the book a little bit...because I did, indeed, reach that point where, much as I disliked some of the protagonists, I had to find out what happened next.
I have to admit that I hated this book when I first began to listen. The characters were uniformly unpleasant. I stuck it out because a) the NY Times had given it such a glowing review, and b) I trust narrator Arthur Morey. His favorite-pair-of-most-comfortable-shoes voice has guided me through some of most favorite and pleasurable literary audio experiences.
As I listened, I found myself wondering who I would compare this author to. Russell Banks, Richard Russo, and John Irving came to mind (although Russo and Irving have an automatic connection because Morey reads so many of their books).
I love Mr. Morey's work. Arthur Morey to me is like coming home and slipping on my very favorite pair of shoes, the ones that are worn in, that fit me perfectly, that still look great after all these years because they were beautifully made to begin with. I've heard some people describe him as whiny, but for me, that's usually because the character calls for it. He isn't a tricky narrator, full of distinct accents or tones. He's simple, well-paced, a very good reader.
What stands out for me most--and shows that all they hype on this book was the real deal--is that I didn't like this book at all when I first started listening to it. But toward the end--and after a lot of cringing and laughing--I really wanted to see how these characters would find their way. I cared about them a lot at the end. Well, maybe not Winn. But even in his utter distastefulness, this is a character worth spending some time with. If nothing else, just for the sheer relief that he's not one of your actual relatives.
I am surprised at how much I've continued to think about this book, even though I heard "The End" several weeks ago.
If you like John Irving, Richard Russo, and Audrey Neffenegger, you will most likely enjoy this book immensely.
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