John Ventimiglia is a fine narrator, giving a lusty performance that never bores. It sounds as if we're listening to Kerouac himself. Of course it helps that the "original scroll" was written in an autobiographical style, that Kerouc names the real names (Allen Ginsburg, etc). There's nothing not to like in this recording: in fact, I'd say this was award-nominating material. My only caution is that as the scroll itself was without a break, so too the narration--you'll find yourself listening way longer than you'd intended, falling into the rythm of the road and the poetry of Kerouc as interpreted by Ventimiglia.
This is an epic to savor, a recording of such quality, read with such care, that I am NOT looking forward to the day when I hear the final words. Jim Norton makes the work of comprehending the many-layered references palatable and enjoyable; his various accents and characterizations allowed me to differentiate the different narratives; and his warmth and elocution made it a riveting experience. I highly recommend this book. In addition, let me say that you will get even more from it if you also order, from The Teaching Company (online), a series of 24 lectures by Professor James Heffernan of Dartmouth College on Joyce's Ulysses. I won't give the URL here, but it's easy enough to find. WIth the unabridged Naxos audiobook and the lectures, you will have an enriching, if somewhat exhausting, educational experience.
I hadn't seen the film before listening (for all of fifteen minutes) to this book, nor had I read the book, but the narrator's clumsy characterizations of Beck and his sidekick sound like a parody, a bad imitation of a 1940's actor, and really put me off listening any further. I expect it might be a fun book to READ, but I cannot recommend LISTENING to it.
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