This was my first encounter with a work of James Joyce. Jim Norton's reading brings the book to life in a way I never could have imagined myself. Joyce is very hard to follow, whether you are reading or listening, given that the writing style changes as Stephen (the protagonist) progresses through life, and in the final chapters he and his fellow students and professors have detailed, in-depth conversations about aesthetics and philosophy, and also frequently break out into both serious and satirical Latin phrases which of course are not explained or translated. Although I'm Australian, I have met many Irish travellers and locals and so the accent wasn't hard for me to understand, as it might be for someone who has never heard a foreign accent before. That said, Jim Norton reads most of the text in his rich, deep, full English accent, and I'm guessing if you're listening to Joyce then you're probably the kind of person who can understand an English or Irish accent without too much trouble. At time the schoolyard conversations were hard to understand but the brain quickly adapts and learns to understand the accent. There are many slang Irish phrases use which would be foreign to the listener and to the reader. This is just one of the joys of Joyce's writing! The first few chapters presented the most challenges; as Stephen matures, his speech does also, and the writing style becomes more sophisticated, and heaviness of accents and slang both become less marked.
Joyce is challenging for everyone. I chose to listen to this audiobook because I simply don't have time to read at the moment, yet I spend a lot of time driving to work. I can't say I got out of the book what a detailed study would have. But it was deeply moving, exciting to listen to and I got so much out of it. For those who want to experience Joyce but have no time to read, I'd highly recommend it. And for those who have studied Joyce, you will experience it as never before through Norton's spirited reading of the book.
The stories are brilliant, of course. Africa's colourful and moving storytelling traditions are well-represented here.
The readings are fantastic as well. Whoopi Goldberg, amongst others, brings these stories to life in a way that is hilarious, moving, and entertaining. A great selection of readers!
My one HUGE gripe is that each story begins at about 10 seconds before the end of each track. Thus when you go to the start of a chapter and press play, it starts about 15 seconds into the story, missing the title of the story, intro music and the first few lines introducing what is going on.
This makes it VERY HARD to navigate the audiobook, or to skip back and find tracks you liked to share with other people. Epic fail guys! Come on!
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