A great look into the creation of novel ruined by horrid narration. I knew exactly what I was expecting from the scroll as I have read the book, but sitting in traffic on my commute, I was looking for a great experience of hearing it and understanding it just I little more intensely, but alas I am so annoyed by the narration, I almost want to stop listening to it.
There are enough recordings of Kerouac and Cassady to easily be able to recreate the feel of their timbre, accent, and meter. I mean, just listen to Mike Meyer in "So I Married an Axe Murder" and compare it to Kerouac on "Blues and Haikus," he does a brilliant homage to Mr. Kerouac.
Part of the greatness of this book, and books such as this like Travel's with Charlie, is that the authors attempt to capture the accents and vernacular from the different parts of the nation. The US in the 50s was still full of truly beautiful local dialects and this reading misses all of them. In fact, it has all but Kerouac's narration and Ginsburg's speech (which is pretty good) in a slightly mangled southern, black, riverboat accent.
There were so many great choices to make on who could read this properly, I wonder desperately why this actor was chosen and why the recording wasn't stopped after the first couple sessions and this actor sent home.
I have read Visions of Cody, I have heard audio of Kerouac reading excerpts. Kerouac has a very unique delivery and cadence that many have tried to emulate, some do it pretty well, some don't. Using his native accent, there is no attempt to imitate the sound of Kerouac reading; the issue being Kerouac's writing is essential tied to the cadence, timbre, and accent he developed being of French Canadian ancestry in Massachusetts. The accent may not be as jarring with another Kerouac book, such as Town and City or Dr. Sax, but this is not a narrative as much as a collection of visions and they just don't work with the cadence and pronunciations painted on them. If the accent isn't bad enough, there is an insistence on aura music in the background of the reading, such as pseudo-bebop jazz riffs, the required beatnik bongos, and japanese flutes wafting zen-like through the words, that just make this feel more of an attempt at performance art than the reading of a book.
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