Narrator Mia Barron has an ironic tone that keeps her voice grounded, and she plays with the level of anxiety in the voices of the main characters. Tassie goes to work as a babysitter for Sarah Brink, who is about to adopt a baby, and muses during their interview on the Midwestern tic of agreeing by saying "Sounds good!" a phrase so unassuming that it's "mere positive description". Forever accomodating in this way, Tassie allows herself to be drawn into a family drama she's wildly unprepared for. The engine of this drama is Sarah, and Barron's performance makes her voice distinctively high and tight, brittle but controlled. At first, this control seems only a cover for new-mother jitters, but as time goes on we begin to detect something darker beneath.
Life is arbitrary and chaotic in Moore's world, and the inner monologues of her characters are correspondingly thick with puns: accidental, meaningless resonances between words that have no real relationship each other. An overheard conversation at a support group slips from talk about "suffering sweepstakes" to "suffering succotash". How can anyone be sure what they mean when they have to rely on these slippery words? What Tassie learns during this year of college is that in life, as in language, it's easy to find false affinities. If this sounds light, it's not. What's said is complex, and what isn't said has devastating consequences. Rosalie Knecht
©2009 Lorrie Moore; ©2009 BBC Audiobooks America
Lorrie Moore never met a simile she didn't like--there must be hundreds of descriptions in that form throughout this book. It is writing so clever that one must stop to admire it, which distances the reader from the plot, as thin as it is. Mostly it is the slow revelations of a young college narrator who learns about love and loss in a year of her life. I enjoyed listening to it, although it is not a book I would recommend to people as a book "you can't put down" because it meanders often and sometimes feels like a meditation on life, which doesn't always compel me in an audiobook.
But the narrator, Mia Barron, is spot on with her ironic smarminess and voice of youthful longing. Get this one if you admire the great wordsmiths and like to be amazed by unusual talent.
This was my first time listening to/reading anything by Lorrie Moore, and while I wanted to give the book a chance, the narration ruined for me. It seemed that the narrator made the decision to utter any dialogue among characters in a very dry, sarcastic tone, even when that didn't seem supported by the text. I may give this book another shot in print, but it seems that everyone recommends her short stories more highly.
I think I also struggled with Moore's choices in the depiction of rural/urban Wisconsin. I have lived in Wisconsin most of my life, and Tassie's observations (and sometimes disdain) came off as a little tortured, sometimes.
It was totally unbelievable
Not sure I'd subject anyone to speaking this book
It wasn't too long, thank goodness. I kept listening hoping it would get better....I should have exchanged it.
Almost. Moore's writing can be beautiful, and is often very funny, but then she goes too far, and suddenly we are pulled out of the story to watch her being oh so clever. The story arc is more like one of those birds that takes so long to get off the ground you don't think it can actually fly. It was either a bunch of short stories strung together or a short story that took far too long to get interesting.
As for the inconsistencies, I don't want to give anything away, so you'll have to trust me—they're in there.
Tassie, the protagonist, sounds like a woman in her mid-forties trying to sound like a college junior; the voice did not ring true. But Moore's style of humor would not have otherwise been able to flourish, so that was a minor problem.
I would not presume.
Sarah, without question.
Didn't I just answer that? The least interesting character is Tassie. Sarah is a tragic figure, but fascinating. I also thought Moore's description of Bonnie was heartbreaking.
I'm probably being too hard on the book. Mia Barron's reading made it much more enjoyable. Her performance was remarkable.
This was a very satisfying audio book - I enjoyed the narration - she captured the main characters attitude. I agree with other reviewers that certain plot lines were implausible, but this did not diminish the wonderful character development and the terrific flights of fantasy. One of the best listens of this summer.
This novel is intimate and erudite, the meticulous outline of life in the crossroads of a mid-west college town, described by the coming-of-age narrator, Tassie.
While there are many parts that are just beautiful - the descriptions of the countryside around her father's farm - and hilarious, there are parts that are just so well observed you want to kiss the writer, and parts that are so painful that it exposes better than any novel written since 9/11 the utter folly of sending our 18 year old children to the altar of war in order to ease the supply of oil. If you read one book this year make it this
From a listener stand point I was slightly disappointed with the ending because the character to me, never really peaked or grew. I wanted to hear more of her job and how that changed her but it never came. Too many side stories but I did appreciate the clever phrases and dialogue of the her boss. The narrator was definitely the voice of a college youngster but the boss lady was slightly too squeaky for me.
Lorrie Moore is a master of the English language in this sorrowful tale of coming of age.
This book started off strong, because the writing is somewhat good. By which I mean its good prose, interesting metaphors. Although that voice doesn't really mesh with the main character who isn't very interesting or insightful about life. I had to force myself through the second half. It just got more dull and more depressing, and I was realizing there wasn't much point to so much of it. By the end it was a tedious chore...
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