Of John Steinbeck's many classic novels, only one is beloved by ninth graders everywhere. Finally in a definitive audiobook edition, The Pearl as read by Hector Elizondo is a long overdue treat for listeners of all ages. Whether you skipped this required reading in high school or simply don't remember much about it, now is the time to revisit Steinbeck's excellent little vision of an ancient Mexican folk tale about the perils of obsessive greed. A story of great symbolism and unflinching morality, the lessons here are no less true in our contemporary circumstances than they were hundreds of years ago.
Hector Elizondo is a perfect fit for this narration. Winner of an Emmy and an Obie, veteran of both screen and stage, Elizondo is no stranger to the gravitas of parables. Although he has contributed voice work to a dozen audiobook dramas with ensemble casts, this is the first time he has narrated a book completely on his own. What a treat to hear his familiar grizzled voice painting the scene of a tiny, impoverished town in need of a miracle. When a scorpion bites a young family man's infant son, the man becomes desperate for money to pay the doctor that can save the child's life.
Upon finding an enormous pearl deep in the water and just in the nick of time, the family begins to dream of their son's bright future. Elizondo puts his grit and gravel to good use conveying the tenacity with which the family clings to the idea of sending their son to school, thus escaping their meager life of poverty. But the enchanting music of the pearl speaks to the whole town, and soon all are clamoring for a piece of the family's good fortune. Hector Elizondo impeccably renders John Steinbeck's haunting admonition against avarice, and this short novel is a must-have for any audio library. Megan Volpert
In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy.
For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems. Originally published in 1947, The Pearl shows why Steinbeck’s style has made him one of the most beloved American writers: it is a simple story of simple people, recounted with the warmth and sincerity and unrivaled craftsmanship Steinbeck brings to his writing. It is tragedy in the great tradition, beautifully conveying not despair but hope for mankind.
©1945, 1973 Elaine Steinbeck, John Steinbeck IV, Thom Steinbeck (P)2011 Penguin Audio
In my top 5.
Comparable to "Of Mice and Men" in length... but faster, more intense, more gripping.
Perfect voice & narration for this story -- low and under-produced, yet mysterious, quick, and forceful... great complement to The Pearl.
I generally like to get a lot of audio hours for my credit... so I wasn't sure it'd be worth it to purchase a book that was 2 hours and change. I was wrong. Gripping book... listens much like a thriller. Classic Steinbeck. The same way "East of Eden" navigates the unspoken rhythms of brothers and fathers, "The Pearl" spotlights the same between husbands and wives... though in a more succinct, more frenetic manner. Riveting listen.
Eclectic tastes. Love anything thought provoking. Especially if its blended with some from of humour.
This book is so not about a favourite character. It is about needs and choices.
I have not heard Hector before. His reading here is perfect
Sure. Not a long book
Beautiful description of the characters and the dilemmas they face. So Steinbeck
With Elizondo's reading? Quite possibly.
Whew, Steinbeck--how did I forget about you for so long?
Reading other reviews, I feel like people are getting too caught up in extracting morality from the book, and who can blame them, given the rather transparent manner in which Steinbeck describes good and evil? It's not that those moral layers are lost on me, but they're hardly the most interesting part of the book. (My general exhaustion with / disgust for the good/evil binary probably has me avoiding that aspect of the text altogether.) Rather, I found myself paying much more attention to the recurring music motif, which apparently arises more than 125 times. For example, one of my favorite passages:
"And Kino’s own music was in his head, the music of the enemy, low and pulsing, nearly asleep. But the Song of the Family had become as fierce and sharp and feline as the snarl of a female puma. The family song was alive now and driving him down on the dark enemy. The harsh cicada seemed to take up its melody, and the twittering tree frogs called little phrases of it."
In this way, the soundtrack Steinbeck weaves into the text creates a tension and momentum that defined my experience of reading The Pearl. Perhaps even more interesting to me, the soundtrack Steinbeck invokes could (and should) vary wildly from reader to reader, all depending on their experiences with music up to that point.
All that is to say, for a medium that doesn't emit sound waves, Steinbeck still somehow managed to make his book pulse, crescendo, and sing.
I am listening to it for a third time! The story is very good; the reader is exceptional!
Kino, the Father
I work a lot. I can listen to books while I work. My new hobby. Thank God I can multi-task!
The 2nd best. I had read it years ago. Enjoyed then and now as well. Great listening!
Juana. She seemed to have the balanced insight into their dilemma.
When they were frighten awaiting for the trackers under the bush in their escape. That scene had always stuck to my mind.
Their return home, certainly.
Will recommend to anyone.
I have an english degree from the University of Wisconsin River-Falls (UWRF). I read, write, and listen to stories daily.
The Pearl examines what happens to Man once he's received his hearts desire. I think Steinbeck was a little hung up on this idea (it provides a thematic material for his novel The Winter of Our Discontent). The Pearl also shows how hard it is for an individual man to fight an institution (much like chapter five of The Grapes of Wrath). Hector Elizondo performs flawlessly, an excellent voice for Steinbecks' words. If you're familiar with Steinbeck, then there is great comparison and contrast value here.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
After reading in the 80s and now again to help my daughter with her homework, I view this book differently. I appreciate Steinbeck's straightforward, succinct writing style using the man versus nature theme here and everywhere.
Kino and Juana search desperatly for a way to save their child and the pearl seems like a benevolent gift from nature. The townspeople, doctor, and traders become envious and attempt to cheat and/or steal from Kino as he seeks to obtain a fair price and better his family's situation.
Artfully written, "The Pearl" set the precedent for many stories and movie plots to follow (watch, "A Simple Plan" if you enjoyed this book). My current take sides with Kino's hope to improve his station in life and I don't believe he's greedy to do so. If you haven't read this classic, the ending is tragic and satisfying provoking you to question your and others' motives. Could listen to this one again and again and probably will.
This narrator does a great job of bringing this classic novella to life.
This book starts out fairly slowly... once you make it to the third chapter, you should be able to listen to to the end.
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