The cultural perspective of this book is by far its most interesting attribute. The author's portrayal of the "generation gap" combines with her equally astute portrayal of the "cultural gap" (the parents grew up in Calcutta and the children grew up in America), resulting in some very thought-provoking conflict. The prose itself is also at times quite stellar. Unfortunately, the reader is just okay, apparently chosen because of her ability to interchange American and Indian accents. There are also frequent and very distracting overdubs, probably to fix reading mistakes, which sound so mismatched that they can't possibly go unnoticed. Still, I listened to this book all the way through, and it was worth it.
The book is fascinating, well-researched, many-faceted, entertaining, and immensely engrossing. The reader is a prolific actor with an impressive resume of non-starring roles who has an incredible talent for characterization, accents, attitudes, and, especially, effective storytelling. The audio quality is also top-notch. Is this maybe the best audiobook I've ever enjoyed? Absolutely!
Sometimes the audio version of a good book can be ruined by a bad reader (too much Broadway or something). And sometimes a good reader can cause a book that's boring on paper to come alive in the audio version. But it's a rare and wonderful combination when a top-notch book is brought to life in a top-notch way by its own author in the audio version, especially if it's a memoir. This is an example of that blessed phenomenon. Some people find Angela's Ashes to be depressing, but I find it to be just the opposite. McCourt's attitude is inspiring. He got through his terrible childhood, and triumphed. The pathos is generously tempered with humor. I love this book, and I love to listen to McCourt himself read it to me.
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