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Peter J

Hollywood, FL, USA | Member Since 2004

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  • Absurdistan

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Arte Johnson
    Overall
    (164)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (26)

    Shteyngart's second novel (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, 2002, was the first) is a wild ride that follows its protagonist and narrator, Misha Vainburg, from St. Petersburg (or St. Leninsburg as he prefers to call it) to a tiny country in the Caucasus called Absurdsvani.

    Alan says: "True Footrest Posse"
    "Great writing, poor editing"
    Overall

    I'm very much enjoying Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. The writing is excellent; bone-dry irony is in abundance and our fatuous (and fat) 1st person narrator illuminates both himself and his world with his gritty descriptions of life inside and outside his natrive Russia. This story of the son of a post-Soviet gangster is both a real hoot and a melancholy lament; the gales of internal (and sometimes out-loud) laughter the story elicits from me are always tinged with sadness. The book seems also to be a real lesson in post-modern Russian culture.

    Arte Johnson's inflections and accent seem perfectly suited to the character. BUT, and here's a big one, the editing of this audio book is very poor. Obviously, no narrator can read non-stop without a flub here and there. He/she is then obliged to pick up where he/she left off and correct the mistake. It's the editor's job to delete the offending material and "stitch together" the newly recorded passage with the end of the previously read passage. It's also her/his job to join together a newly recorded passage with the previously recorded. In these days of digital editing, that's a relatively quick and easy task. Unfortunately, time and again in Absurdistan, the new material is attached directly to the end of the old. The effect is to create a seeming run-on sentence. The listener is afforded no opportunity to grasp the fact that a phrase or sentence has just come to an end, since it's instantly followed by another. This is more than unnatural; it affects comprehension and certainly disturbs the listener's absorbtion into the tale.

    It's this distraction that subtracts a star from my review. That aside, the book is a very engaging and thoroughly original work.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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