Fabulous listen!! The story is compelling and the plot peaks and peaks again before an ending, which isn't so much of resolution than a "pause" button, a stop on a street corner with a sudden change of mind as to one's destination. A compelling drama. On to the next Volume. Simon Vance rocks!!
The ending wasn't a wrap, or even a final note. It was just another recounting of a detail, a small memory of our narrator, which may or may not have had any significance to the rest of the story (it's more or less up to the reader to decide). But this closing was definitely consistent with a narrative structure that simply flollowed the flow of one's past memories. One story can bleed into another completely different tale from a previous decade and come back to the present. And the present is just an opening to the future, which just Is: unknown, pending, not within our control.
In-character; measured and restrained.
I think this book was as complete as it could be. It's purview was well-defined and small; but not necessarily small-minded. The story deliberately pulls inward, as our protagonist never ventures far away from the small and ordinary and manageable. It's about one girl, one family, one brother, one friend, one neighborhood, one job, one life experienced completely within a limited psychic and geographic sphere. That McDermott describes everything in the most precise and exacting detail does not enlarge the book or the story, but pulls us more deeply into what many would typically regard as disconcertingly banal. Marie comes from an ordinary working class Irish family their very ordinary lives unfolding in an enclave of Brooklyn. There's very little questioning of their station in life (it was better than her parents' origins in another "home, Ireland". Unexplained or avoidable deaths. were sadly accepted as a matter of course. No deep thoughts, or major angst about life, death or even one's own inner confusion were even given a berth to rest. No fanfare, or drama, not even with the narrator's brother, whose life could not be fully lived. In this world and in this time, his altering the equilibrium---well, what would be the point? Leave well enough alone, his family would say. Perhaps this containment was very much in keeping with the tenor of a generation that came of age during and right after WWII, Social convention was a goal unto itself, loyalty to family, faith, and the job were all that mattered. For the 20 or so years this story spans, there's not an inkling of expansive thinking, of personal ambition or consideration of new possibilities for one's life; not even travel to another city, let alone another state. Well, the brother does go to England for WWII but that was duty- not an adventure. In that regard, there is no need for me to revisit Marie. The story was packaged tightly with all the seams taped down to perfection.
The tone of the book was so even, the pace so steady and the detail so precise, it is a set piece of fidelity to boundaries and containment. The writing was exquisite in its detail, but for me, as a reader, the absence of exuberance, bursts of humor or even tension was deadening.
Exquistely narrated by Shelley Frasier, who captures the accents, cadence, and tone of the New Orleans Creoles with near perfection. Her timbre and languid pacing vividly recreates the atmosphere and sense of culture of that unique corner of the South called New Orleans.
The book, itself a classic, is almost painterly in its use of language and is abundantly reviewed elsewhere including an excellent annotated version of Cliff Notes! Suffice it to say this review is about the narration; listening to this version is worth every minute of time spent tethered to your computer, ipod or parked car (I did all three)!
The content of the book is excellent, especially for executives not really clued into the wikiness of the tech world. But the narrator, who has a beautiful and strong speaking voice, is so forceful with every sentence, one would think the book is a series of proclamations on how wiki will save the world. As a result the book's message and content began to seem redundant after Chapter 2. Less would have been more in this case.
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