Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for 13-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in dying Cold War England, 1982. But the 13 chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissinger-esque realpolitik enacted in boys' games on a frozen lake; of "nightcreeping" through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigre who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason's search to replace his dead grandfather's irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher's recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.
Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's subtlest and most effective achievement to date.
©2006 David Mitchell; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Great Britain's Catcher in the Rye, and another triumph for one of the present age's most interesting and accomplished novelists." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Gorgeous....Captures the sheer pleasure of being a boy and brings to mind adventures shared by Huck and Tom." (Publishers Weekly)
"He reproduces Jason's inner life with such astonishing verisimilitude that readers will find themselves haunted by him long after turning the last page." (Booklist)
I loved this book. The narrator was top-notch, and the story was engrossing. I found myself worrying about Jason at odd times during the day and night, when I wasn't listening to the book. There were also some really memorable phrases, the kind you hear, stop the the player, and think, "I've got to remember that one."
Especially in the second half or so of the book, the narrator really shines at doing all the voices, from the odd accent of old Madame Cromerlinck to the Gypsies and the horrid gossipy vicar's wife.
This is an enjoyable audiobook. Very easy to listen to, excellent narration. We've all been in similar situations to those encountered by Jason. We can all identify.
Just a really great story and easier to follow than Mitchell's other work- Could Atlas. Of the two, I preferred this one, although both are beautifully written. On the surface the story appears straightforeward, but then makes strange turns. I generally dislike literal novels and prefer immersive fantasy, but this was some of both.
I've read most of Mitchell's other books and was a little hesitant about what seemed like a rather straightforward, linear narrative about one character, especially one who is 13. But of course, Mitchell made it an incredible journey with astonishing authenticity and profound insights into the human condition. Very well performed as well.
I really liked this book - my first by David Mitchell. The narration was good in parts but the pronunciation of place names and even just ordinary words was off putting. A slight glitch in an otherwise good experience. I'm off to start my next DM book now....
Narration was spectacular. Right up there with Simon Vance.
David Mitchell combines beautiful subtle appreciation for the vagaries of human life--and in this book, the vagaries of smart adolescent life--with more than a touch of political correctness. For example, given that it's the 80s, it fits that Jason's mother would be flexing her newly found feminist powers. But to throw in an object lesson about how terrible it is to be prejudiced against gypsies, or the little homily about poetry not having to be beautiful--maybe we could have skipped that. And maybe instead the book could have given glimpses of what his father was going through, since the structural tension in the book was created by his loyalty to an ex-mistress and his attempts to save her. But all in all an immersive read and there's an Easter Egg in there for fans of Cloud Atlas.
What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.
Great way to view how life would be for a young person that anyone can relate to.
It captures adolescence, and is at the same time appealing to any story lover
He sounds young and captures different accents nicely
I had just read this book six months earlier, but when I heard the audio sample wanted to buy it and listen to it anyway. They've chosen the ideal reader for this book: his accent is perfect, and his interpretation of the text and the characters is very sensitive. The book is a brilliant semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story by an author whose range is very impressive (from nightmarish futurism to historical fiction and plenty in between). This one is a realistic first-person narrative about a kid with a stammer and the usual tween anxieties. There's a full and convincing cast of secondary characters. The atmosphere is one of nostalgia for early 80s pop culture and sadness about the effects of an unhappy marriage; yet it is lightened by the humor and the fabulations of its bright 13 year old narrator. I'm sure that I'll listen to this again.
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