I love this book. I've read it several times in print. I never would have listened to it for fear that the narrator wouldn't be able to measure up to Grendel's "voice" my imagination -- the way you might hesitate to see the film version of a favorite novel -- but in the end I wound up buying the audio version so that my son could listen to it as we commuted. And in the end, I loved it so much that here I am, writing a review.
This novel is ultimately cognitive as well as sensory and emotional, and it is full of subtleties, but don't expect any restrained, intellectualized treatment of Grendel's thoughts and words here. George Guidall doesn't hold back; he goes for it in a way that feels raw and real. It is a true talent to manage so much intense emotion -- this narrator only sounds histrionic when Grendel does.
I often find "monsters" at least as human as the rest of us, and at least as able to show us the complexities and contradictions of the human state. If monsters appeal to you, don't miss this audiobook. If on the other hand you usually prefer human heroes and villains, but find yourself in the mood for something unusual, moving, comical, and tragic, consider this.
This book is a feast of language. Textured, intense, and lyrical, especially as read by this narrator, the prose resonates. The characters are certainly memorable and their stories capture the imagination, but it is the depth of the language that brings this book repeatedly to my mind at odd moments and makes me want to read or listen to every other novel Rushdie has ever written.
There are "easier" books out there. If you're looking for an action yarn or a bit of romantic fluff, look elsewhere. If however you want something that enriches you, that is worth the time you spend with it, and that will keep you sitting out in the car just to hear a little more of the magic, consider listening to this.
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