I listened to this performance as an audio cassette about two years ago. It was the best recorded book I listened to that year. Patrick Tull has a wonderful sense of the rhythm, variety and force of Dickens' prose. The book itself is wonderfully full of life and humor. I never understood Dickens' humor until I listened to Pickwick Papers. I've never known Tull to give less than a superlative reading.
I would have rated this book higher if the author had been less talented. Mr. Foer clearly enjoys incredible command of language and is extremely proud of himself for his virtuosity. Just as the protagonist of his first novel bore the author's own name, I had the feeling that his irritating little Oskar was some younger version of the author. Would that he had grown up to be a novelist who could create believable characters, instead of wearying the reader with a barrage of novelistic tricks, all of which seemed to distract one from his unconvincing creations.
There is a far better book featuring a boy named Oskar, Guenther Grass' "Tin Drum." Read that instead.
I'm resuscitating my capacity to enjoy recorded books with a reread of Austen's "Emma." Imagine--an author who doesn't call attention to herself and whose least developed character is more convincingly portrayed than anyone in ELIC.
Having listened to the Frank Muller reading of Tale of Two Cities, I was anticipating a peak listening experience. Many of the less well known Dickens novels, such as Barnaby Rudge, are wonderfully wrought, and just as great as the better-known works.
Unfortunately, the reader is unable to convey either the rhythm or sense of Dickens' prose. I kept having to replay sentences to get the meaning. Part of this is due to the somewhat baroque character of Dickens' later prose. However, I have listened to and enjoyed readings of such books as Sartoris and Moby Dick, neither of which exactly reads itself.
In short, this is probably a great novel ruined by leaden and falsely inflected reading. Anyone thinking of downloading it ought to listen to a sample. I think I'll just buy and read the book.
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