Consistent with all the other books in this series, this book too is a masterpiece. The writing is unparalleled, the subject matter is fascinating, the narration is classic. But this version leaves out too much.
What is most fascinating in this book is the author's relationship with Albertine. Everything else is interesting, but the magic happens when the author turns to his feelings on Albertine.
In the actual book, the last hundred pages is devoted to his growing desire, jealousy, and possessiveness towards his paramour, and provides a natural bridge to the next book, The Captive.
Unfortunately, this is all left out in this version. The narration ends very abruptly after a fairly inconsequential visit to Madame Verdurin's country home. What is left is still wonderful writing, but the core element is missing.
I love Faulkner, and had tried to get through reading this book three times, all without success. The writing, while beautiful, is just so dense, and takes so much concentration to understand, that I plain ran out of steam each time. But I decided to give the audio book a try. My thinking was that maybe a narrator would interpret the writing, and give me a boost in understanding it all.
Unlike most of my plans and schemes, this one worked to perfection! Grover Gardner did a flat-out incredible job narrating. His tones, his inflections, his interpretations, were uniformly superb. With his help, the novel became comprehensible. I wasn't even aware when he hit the infamous 1300-plus-word sentence, it was all so smooth.
And what a novel! I hadn't known beforehand that this book is held in such esteem by Faulknerians, but it is, and justly so. It is breathtaking in scope and execution, nearly on a par with The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. And praise doesn't come higher than that.
Thank you, Grover Gardner, thank you Audible!
I got this book because I remember the 1956 movie as one of the most thrilling of my young life, and I wanted both to relive the experience, and to hear how close the movie was to the facts.
It turns out it was very close; in fact, from the description of the appearance and charisma of the leader James Andrews, the ever-likable Fess Parker was the perfect choice. This book, of course, goes into greater detail than the film, and corrects some errors and fills in missing facts, especially of the events after the raid, and even what became of each of the surviving raiders.
But I found the narration to be very annoying. Bronson Pinchot's voice is strong, and his diction perfect, but his intonations, his interpretation of what he was reading, was awful. He never simply reads what has been written, trusting the words to have their effect. Instead, he puts emphasis on everything he says, in my opinion, usually the wrong emphasis. And when he quotes from the writings of any of the raiders, he invariably made them sound whiny. This book needed a producer to tell him, just read the words, the power is there, you don't have to compensate.
The book, however, was strong enough to make up for the narration. I'm very glad to have relived a part of my childhood. Now if the can only do the story of Jean Lafitte.
There are a lot of weak elements in this book. The supporting characters are, for the most part, very one-dimensional and uninteresting; the dialog is often flat, cliched, and predictable; the lead character spends way too much time obsessing over his girlfriend who doesn't like guns, and he describes room decor as though he were an interior decorator. I found myself thinking repeatedly, "I want him to be TOUGH -- and this ISN'T TOUGH!"
But there are a lot of good elements here too, starting with the narrator. The tone he sets -- a little tough, a little jaded, but never over the top -- is just perfect. He also does a good Chicago accent, and does a great job on several others to boot. The plot and the pacing are also pretty good, if not especially original, and as a transplanted Chicagoan, I loved all of the Chicago references (although I also cringed on the mispronouncing of Armitage -- shouldn't there have been SOMEONE from Chicago to check pronunciation?).
I probably won't read another book from this author because I did find his weaknesses a little too much to want to sit through again, but I'm not displeased I got this one -- it was a good listen.
I got this book because I LOVE the Mike Carey Felix Castor series, and someone compared Mike Carey with Jim Butcher.
Let me say definitively, there is no comparison between the two. Carey's books draw you in with solid writing, intriguing and believable characters, and fascinating and well-constructed plotlines. Add to this the pitch-perfect narration of Michael Kramer, and you have some perfect audiobooks.
I found Butcher's writing flat and unimaginative. His prose often leaves me cringing, and the characters and scenes he constructs are amateurish, even painful.
And I agree with other commentators here on the narration. Too quick, very inexpressive, and please! Stop with the deep breaths!
Very tedious to get through.
I read, rather than listened to, the first book in this series, _The Devil You Know_, and I wasn't too impressed. Perhaps I should have listened to it, because this audiobook blew me away.
The narrator is SO good. He breathes life into every character, and his pace and clarity are just perfect.
And the story. I can't believe the twists and turns Carey puts into this plot, but every one works, especially the key element, the reason everyone is doing all these baffling things. It has to be big and convincing, and not obvious, and it delivers on all counts.
About a quarter of the way through, I realized that this is just like a Raymond Chandler book, only with ghosts and demons and were folk. Felix Castor is Philip Marlowe as exorcist. All the other elements are very much the same. And who doesn't love hard-boiled fiction?
Now I'm going to get _The Devil You Know_ in audiobook form. I bet I love it.
While I found The Guermantes Way enjoyable but a bit lacking in depth, Proust returns to an examination of the inner lives of his characters in this book; and while I find Proust's language and powers of observation and description unparalleled, it is his insight into the human condition the makes his work so transcendent for me.
In this work, the interactions among all his characters lend themselves more to an in-depth study than in the prior work, where the superficiality of the society scenes into which he was entering precluded many deep insights. Here, his relationship with several characters deepens, particularly with Charlus and Albertine, and Proust's descriptions and insights of these relationships and conflicts never fails to fascinate, enchant, enlighten, draw the reader completely into his world.
I cannot say enough about the narration of Neville Jason. It is clear that he has studied and prepared for this reading as would an actor for the stage, and it shows in every moment. He has captured to perfection the voices of every character, particularly Charlus, with skill that goes far beyond what my own imagination could provide. His reading adds immeasurably to my enjoyment of the book.
I'm starting to regret that this novel is comprised only of seven books. It's a treasure one hopes will never end.
I guess I'd have to say that this book is a technical marvel. Joyce describes the life of Steven Dedalus, primarily his inner life, as he progresses from a young boy through to the verge of manhood. The writing style Joyce uses matches Steven's complexity of thought at every age, from the very simplest of sentences at the beginning of the work, to quite complex construction at the end.
The prose is striking throughout the book, and I enjoyed how Joyce often jumps from one subject to another, not necessarily completing any, just as our minds often jump around restlessly, images, memories, emotions coming and going.
My primary problem with the book is that I developed no attachment to Steven. For almost the entire work, I felt very distanced from him; there was little in his personality that I could relate to, and consequently, I didn't care much how he worked out his difficulties.
Another problem was that a very large section is given over to a description of the teachings of the Catholic Church. The purpose seems to be to describe in detail what Steven was thinking at a time he was immersed in religious feeling; but the effect was deadening, at least on me. I read literature to learn about the innermost workings of my fellow creatures. I neither want nor need to listen to the teachings of the Catholic Church for over an hour.
Ditto a later section on the philosophic debates Steven engaged in with his schoolmates. Yes, boys st these ages are prone to profound religious feelings, and later to philosophic debates. But when I myself engaged in them at Steven's age, I found them quite boring. Joyce's writing about them is no different.
On the very positive side, I thought the narration was simply masterful. The narrator takes all the time he needs to express what each sentence means, giving every sentence its full weight. The recording quality could have been better, though.
But all in all, a very odd book. Give me Proust any day.
I vainly seek out superlatives with which to describe this masterpiece, and Neville Jason's rendition of this masterpiece. This part of this book is, quite simply, the best work I've ever read (or have had read to me). It is so moving, the writing so powerful, that it left me speechless every time I listened to it, and I couldn't wait till the next time I could get to it.
In this volume, the author reaches adolescence, and like every young man, is moved by the wonder and beauty and mystery of young women. This volume tells of the author's early experiences, and sometimes surprising success, in seeking the companionship of the objects of his heart's desire. It is charming, lovely, funny, surprising, sometimes thrilling, satisfying on every level.
And as for the narration of Mr. Jason -- this rendition is so good that I had to get the book, but when I started reading, I realized in the first paragraph how much I missed Mr. Jason's narration, how much he adds to the experience.
For those who love life, literature, and the finest that writing has to offer.
This work is fairly well known to all lovers of the Arthurian Legend. But the life that Derek Jacobi breathes into every single sentence of the work is just amazing. His reading alone is worth listening to. Sometimes, I hear a sentence, and imagine how I would have read the same sentence; it is at these times that I realize how extraordinary are Mr. Jacobi's powers of interpretation.
Of course, the book itself is filled with tales of the highest adventure, even if the fifteenth-century language takes some getting used to. But in this edition, Derek Jacobi walks away with the show.
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