I watched author Stephen Chbosky's film adaptation of his novel first. I felt that, besides the voiceover element which many films use, the movie felt like it played out so naturally and un-book-like. I was anxious to spend more time with these characters and also to see how the movie's revelations were handled.
I quickly got over the fact that the entire novel is told in letters (I was going to use the word epistolary, but thought it sounded too pretentious... And now that I'm pitifully defending my writing style I sound just like this novel's narrator, Charlie), and was wrapped up in the fascinating point of view of this high school freshman.
It has to be said that, while the book is really a wonderful story, Noah Galvin turns it into something far more engaging and appealing with superb performance. He really embodies the character of Charlie and gives humor and depth to his neurotic and adolescent fears. He does something that I particularly love: As Charlie, he manages to perform the other character's dialogue with a sort of sarcasm that seems very true to his personality while at the same time the voices really resonate as being accurate to the people he is imitating.
Overall, this is a really terrific coming of age story. The nice thing is that the author was able to take this tale of his and turn it into an equally charming movie. Enjoy both!
I listened to Nickel Plated without knowing the author or the reader. Just on a whim. Actually, I think it was because one reviewer said they thought it would make a good movie.
The story started off okay. I was interested in this young orphan with a dark past trying to help other kids who could become victims as he once had. And, to a certain extent, getting a look at how this kid, Nickel, managed to create an existence by being invisible to adults, especially those adults who might prey on kids like him was very interesting. But then I came up against two issues that, even though I saw the book through to its conclusion, I could not resolve.
The voice of the character- not Nick Podehl, who actually performs the first person narrative- but the manner in which the character relates his story just didn't sound like a 12 year old. Nickel lives in a world of scary adults with really sinister intentions and attempts to fight back against them, but he doesn't talk like a 12-year-old or doesn't seem to display any of the emotional scars that I feel certain would be ever-present given what he was put through. I had to constantly remind myself through the listening that this was a kid. That the author wants me to know that this is a kid even though he wasn't supporting that image.
The other major hurdle that I noticed about a quarter of the way in and from then on couldn't shake was that the author, Aric Davis uses a series of lists to narrate the story. I started to become aware that much of the story was just describing what Nickel did. Like: 'I dialed her phone number, waited, it rang once, then twice. Was she home? I wondered. I waited for her answering machine. Thought better of it. Then I hung up.' This isn't a quote from the book, but a approximation of what I started to notice was making up a large part of my listening experience. If you don't immediately link up with our leading character, you might also feel that this story spends quite a lot of time walking you through a process of a story, step by step but not actually pulling you in.
Maybe that's why that one reviewer said that this story would be an interesting film, because so much of it seems to list the actions taking place. If you could visually see the 12-year-old Nickel doing these things, you could probably get the vibe that this is a child who has been scarred deeply and has carved out this life of a sometime private detective, and occasional super hero out of a painful past. It might be one of those rare instances where the movie is better than the book.
'The Gunslinger' is the first of a long series of novels considered by King's fans to be his magnum opus. Part of its legendary status has to do with the fact that the time between each release was often several years or more requiring die-hard fans to wait. Part of it is the fact that King manages to tether several of his other horror genre works into this one. 'The Stand,' 'IT,' and most satisfyingly, 'Salem's Lot,' all have some link to this tale. There is even an element of what I believe is called, "meta-fiction" late in the series. But, indeed it all began here with this, the shortest and, probably the most difficult book.
For this edition, King went back and edited his original story to fix plot inconsistencies and to try and modify the tone of the story, but the real problem is unfixable. The character we follow in this and in the later installments is the problem. In the character of Roland, Stephen King has given us an enigma. Something of an unknowable wanderer. He is on a quest, he is the last of his kind, he is a Gunslinger and at first he is in pursuit of the man in black, later he is in I'm pursuit of the Dark Tower- another mystery that does not give up many clues.
The Gunslinger should be read- must be read, really if you plan on taking this epic and ultimately brilliant journey. But I would advise readers to look at this first installment as a prologue. An introduction to be read quickly and put aside in order to dive into book two. Understand that this is a tough read that at once wants you to be interested and invested in this quiet, lethal guy while keeping itself at an arms length. When you invent a character that is both quiet and non-emotive, you're gonna have some trouble.
The truth is, though that Roland of Gilead may be one of the most fascinating characters in all of fantasy literature and his Dark Tower one of the more interesting and metaphorical quest destinations since Mount Doom. That said, be prepared to have few answers at the conclusion of this audiobook. But think of it this way: if you knew all there was to know of the Gunslinger and the Dark Tower at the end of this 8 hour listen, why would you choose to invest another 130 hours to get to the end?
I suggest you invest. There are other worlds than these...
Leonard Peacock tells us he plans to murder a classmate then off himself. So, naturally any listener goes in to such a story hoping that the end, well, pays off. If he does it, let me understand and feel some kind of resolve and not come out on the other end of these six hours with a bleaker, more cynical view of the world. 'Cause I don't need help with that, thank you. Or, okay, if he doesn't go through with it, let me not feel cheated by the premise of this story or feel the author side-stepped the seriousness of the material.
I will tell you that I had to stop my world for that last two hours to listen to the ending. I will also tell you, without giving anything away, the ending truly is the thing here. As the tale spooled out I had a fairly good idea of where the author would finally wrap the story up. After all, the whole novel's premise is this idea that we are building up to the murder and the suicide, but Matthew Quick seemed to have more to tell. It is because of the last few chapters that I feel especially privileged to have experienced this book.
Matthew Quick treats the subject and his characters with gravity and affection and does not compromise reality to deliver a neat and tidy ending, and I did find my eyes welling up in the end.
What a wonderfully complex and fascinating character is Mr. Peacock.
Finally, I must once again sing the praises of Noah Galvin, who I Googled after thoroughly enjoying his narration of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower.' They young man is a theater actor which explains why both readings are so engaging. He really performs the book- almost like a monologue, fully inhabiting the character. With some material that kind of reading would be unwelcome and maybe even limiting to the listener's imagination. But here again, in a first person narrative, Galvin's conversational style is totally enthralling and 100% convincing. I would even go so far as put his performance up there with the likes of Jim Dale who expertly gave- in a different way- a new experience to millions of Harry Potter fans.
I will be listening to more from both Quick and Galvin.
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