Yes, I do strongly recommend this novel to everyone. This is one of the best novels that I have ever read and Jennifer Connelly's reading is the single best reading of a novel that I have ever heard.
This is the story of an American couple, Port and Kit, travelling through Morocco in the late 1940's. Although they deeply love one another, they have grown apart and traveling from one small town in the Sahara to another only brings their despair and alienation into sharper relief. The dialog has the ring of authenticity, as do the characters' inner monologues. Bowles was a great storyteller and his descriptions of the desert are mesmerizing.
One of the most powerful scenes in the novel occurs in a small hospital where Port lies, suffering from typhus. Despite his own deep sense of alienation from the world, one thing is clear to him: his love for Kit. But by then, he's too weak from the disease to get the words out and tell her everything that's on his mind.
I read this novel years ago and I loved it, but Jennifer Connelly's reading of it has led me to appreciate it even more. I almost hesitate to call it a 'reading'. It's better described as a performance and a great one at that. Her decison to give each character in the novel his or her own distinctive voice was a bold one and it paid off. Her readings of the narrative passages are just as hypnotic and brilliant as Bowles' writing itself.
Kit's mental breakdown in the desert after she loses Port is especially moving. There's no one to help her.
Listening to this reading has inspired me to read Bowles' other novels and to re-watch some of Ms. Connelly's excellent acting performances in films.
Brilliant, poetic, violent.
"The kid" and the expriest hide in the rocks, hoping to not be discovered by the monsterously brutal Judge Holden who has been trailing them. "The kid" has not one, but two opportunities to surprise and kill Judge Holden. It is the only point in the novel when I wanted a character to commit an act of violence. Despite the urgings of the expriest Tobin, "the kid'" passes on both opportunities. He lives to regret it.
Richard Poe's narration is, as always, outstanding. I can imagine myself giving up on a challenging book like this without a great narrator to pull me along.
No. As much as I admire Cormac McCarthy's brilliant, powerful and often lyrical prose, I needed occasional breaks from the unending depictions of violence and brutality.
I have ambivalent feelings about this novel. The writing itself is brilliant. For that alone, the book merits five stars. However, this is, after all, a fairly nasty story about a marauding band of white scalphunters killing and taking scalps throughout northern Mexico and the southwest United States circa 1849.
I struggled at times to find a point to these depictions of violence, If the point is simply to deromantisize the Old West, it is, pardon me, overkill. However, I think that McCarthy may have had something bigger in mind, At one point in the novel, the despicable Judge Holden disapprovingly tells the other scalphunters the following: "Moral law is an invention of mankind for the disenfranchisement of the powerful in favor of the weak." I suppose that McCarthy's point is that without the rule of law, we would find ourselves in what Thomas Hobbes referred to as the 'natural condition of mankind' where it's every man for himself without regard to others. Maybe I need to reread Hobbes' Leviathon in order to better appreciate the themes of Blood Meridian.
Yes, I do recommend this novel to everyone. As many critics have noted, Ms. Egan employs a host of dazzling literary techniques in 'A Visit from the Goon Squad'. She writes in third person in some chapters, first person in others and even second person (!) in one chapter. She also seems to adopt a different style and tone in each chapter. In the chapter about a failed art history professor searching for his runaway niece in Italy, Ms. Egan writes in the style of an ambitious art critic. In the chapter about a journalist's disasterous interview of a young actress, Ms. Egan parodies David Foster Wallace's writing style, but it also seemed to me that she was hinting at the tragic future for both her character and for Mr. Wallace. In the penultimate chapter, she has a twelve-year old girl write a PowerPoint Slide presentation. But as is always the case with Ms. Egan's bravura literary techniques, they serve the narrative. The most affecting aspect of that chapter (the girl's PowerPoint presentation) is the fact she 'got' her autistic older brother in a way that their father didn't.
There are similarities to both Don Delillo's great novel, 'Underworld' and to some of Thomas Pynchon's novels. Both 'Underworld' and 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' interweave the stories of many different characters non-chronologically over the course of decades. Of course, many writers do this, but I don't think that very many of them do it nearly as well as Don Delillo or Jennifer Egan.In terms of technique, Ms. Egan reminds me of Pynchon and other postmodern writers. That being said, no matter how experimental her techniques may seem at first, they are not in the least off-putting. Everyone can appreciate this novel.
As far as I know, this is the first novel read by Roxanna Ortega. Some ot the reviewers of the other Audible version of this novel have quibbled with Ms. Ortega's reading. I do not agree. Her voice is very easy to listen to and I like the fact that she gave each character his or her own voice.
There are many moving moments in this novel. The entire chapter 'Out of Body', written in the second person was very powerful. A college student who attempted suicide returns to college. Both he and his friends have trouble dealing with the fact that he tried to kill himself and it becomes obvious that he is not completely 'better'.
This is a novel about the unexpected trajectories of the lives of people. An autistic boy in the novel spends most of his time looking for the short 1 or 2 second pauses in popular songs. I am assuming that this is Ms. Egan's metaphor for the seeming 'pauses' in real life.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the novel is the humor that Kafka injected into the story. As an example, the protagonist, Joseph K. is advised to meet with the court painter, of all people, in order to get a detailed explanation of the secret workings of the lower court hearing his case. After the painter provides Joseph K. with a long, absurd and incomprehensible explanation of the court proceedings, he manages to browbeat K. into buying three of his paintings which are exactly the same. This is very funny section of the novel.
There is one absurd scene after another in this novel. They are often simultaneously hilarious and frightening. Not many writers can achieve that effect,
George Guidall manages to capture Joseph K's growing despair and resignation through his voice inflections.
After spending months fighting against unspecified charges, convinced that he has done nothing wrong, an exhausted Joseph K. accepts his fate.
I like this relatively new (1998) translation by Breon Mitchell. I checked it againt the restored German text and it seems to be much more accurate than the earlier translation by Willa and Edwin Muir.
Yes. There are many different characters in this long novel and Delillo interweaves their stories brillianly. They keep popping up at unexpected and yet absolutely correct spots in the novel.
I don't know of another writer who writes better dialog than Don Delillo.
As another reviewer noted, the long opening set piece in the Polo Grounds during the final 1951 national league playoff game between the Giants and the Dodgers is truely great writing. Delillo's imagined banter among Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Toots Shor, who in reality did attend the playoff game together, is very, very funny.
There is a great deal of sparkling dialog in the novel and Richard Poe does an excellent job in giving each character his or her own voice. I especially enjoyed his rendering of Marv Lundy, the retired sports memorabilia collector. Almost everying that Marv says sounds off the wall, yet hilarious. You don't get the full effect without Richard Poe's voice inflections.
I wouldn't rename it. I like Delillo's metaphor. No matter how deeply you bury nuclear or other toxic waste, eventually some of it is bound to rise to the surface. So too, no matter how far under the surface emotional pain and trauma is buried, it still has a great deal to do with what we do and who we are.
This is a great novel with snappy, yet absolutely authentic-sounding dialog.
No. The information is interesting, but there is no point in hearing it a second time.
The second half of the book veers off course. He has a long, boring chapter on movie mogul Mike Todd's attempt to implement smellovision. For someone who is interested in odors and our perception of odors, this chapter, which drones on for almost an hour, is worthless.
His reading is clear, lively and easy to listen to,
The first half of the book is excellent. He writes about the science of odor perception in a manner that is easy for a lay person to understand.
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