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Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty | [James Thurber]

Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Mild-mannered Walter Mitty is a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies. Stiller's imaginative performance as Mitty is the perfect re-introduction to the classic character and a great preface to the upcoming film, for longtime fans and new listeners alike.
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Publisher's Summary

The multi-talented director and actor, Ben Stiller narrates the classic James Thurber short story that inspired the new major motion picture, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Mild-mannered Walter Mitty is a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies. Stiller's imaginative performance as Mitty is the perfect re-introduction to the classic character and a great preface to the upcoming film, for longtime fans and new listeners alike.

See The Secret Life of Walter Mitty when it hits theaters this Christmas.

©1942 Copyright renewed 1970 Rosemary A. Thurber. (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Ben Stiller was not only aptly cast in the recently released movie of the same title, he's also sublime as the entertaining narrator of Thurber's original short story. A timid man escapes his boring life by living in his imagination - which is full of fantasies of daring heroic adventures. Stiller grasps this concept by imbuing each new character that Walter Mitty assumes with a bold, creative voice." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Dave Whittier, CA 12-04-13
    Dave Whittier, CA 12-04-13 Member Since 2010

    I'm a big fan of SF/F/Horror, and all things in between and out.

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    "We Only Live Once. Or Do We?"

    Oh, this is a fun treat! It's been years since I read James Thurber's best known story - I remembered it being lighthearted, but boy can memories be faulty!

    "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is really equal parts whimsy and melancholy. It's an ode to escapism and imagination, no doubt (not to mention wish-fulfillment), but in the end even poor Mitty's imagination seems to have it out for him as much as his life does, and is maybe just as empty and frustrating.

    Ben Stiller's reading hits all the right notes. He's able to capture the joy of Mitty's different daydreams, but also scales back when we're following Mitty through the frustrations of his real life, and find the sadness that permeates the story, and Mitty himself.

    It's a short little story, and it was a delight to hear it here.

    34 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 12-06-13
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 12-06-13 Member Since 2010

    Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.

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    "The most fun you can have in 15 minutes"

    Delightful short story providing gentle smiles with underlying pathos for what poor Mitty's mundane life must be like. His secret lives reveal the heroic spirit that could light a spark if it only dared. Obviously released as a promotion for the upcoming movie, but I think I prefer the short version that leaves more to our imagination. After all - that's what it's really all about isn't it?

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maggie Baton Rouge, LA, United States 12-04-13
    Maggie Baton Rouge, LA, United States 12-04-13 Member Since 2007

    maggie rose

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    "perfect"
    What did you love best about Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

    stiller's perfect voice for this timeless thurber story, perfectly delivered. pure entertainment. thanks, audible.


    What does Ben Stiller bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    his voice and his sense of humor


    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 12-05-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 12-05-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In the Catbird Seat"

    James Thurber! James Thurber!

    Ben Stiller! Ben Stiller!

    Can you tell I was more than a little thrilled by this Audible short? James Thurber (1894-1961) was a wonderful commentator and cartoonist who was 50 years ahead of his time. For the last five years, every time I read a blog or a tweet that misses its mark, I've wondered, "What would Thurber say?"

    "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1939, 1942) tells the story of a henpecked man, on a quest to find new galoshes and dog biscuits, who daydreams an exciting life of saving lives and crucial war missions. He's every person - who hasn't thought of heroically saving a stranger from a falling shelf in an earthquake or tornado when you're stuck in a line at the grocery store, wondering whose tragedy People Magazine is exploiting this week?

    Ben Stiller does the narration, and - I'm going out on a limb that even a real life timid Walter Mitty would venture onto - I think that's because a movie version of "Mitty" is coming out. Just a guess on my part, of course. Stiller did a fantastic job acting in "Night at the Museum" (2006), one of my favorite movie adaptations of a book (Milan Trenc, 1993). Stiller directs and stars in "Mitty" and I hope I enjoy the movie as much.

    I'm only rating the audio at a 4, though, because while Stiller is a Great Narrator, the production wasn't. Too echo-y.

    If you're wondering about the title of the review - it's another Thurber short story.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    32 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 10-07-14
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 10-07-14 Member Since 2013

    Rob Thomas

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    "This is my Webley-Vickers 50.80, he said calmly"

    What an amazing short story!

    [SPOILER ALERT] Walter Mitty is a hen-pecked husband who feels inferior most of the time. But he escapes into his fabulously rich fantasy world where he holds all the cards. Walter is married but still so alone and his tale is simultaneously hilarious and poignant. The ending is subtle and superb.

    Read this and your head will go, "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Canberra Dilettante Canberra, Australia 03-10-14
    Canberra Dilettante Canberra, Australia 03-10-14 Member Since 2013

    garfish

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    "A jewel - if a slightly dated one"
    What made the experience of listening to Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty the most enjoyable?

    It's a gem of a story; a tiny slice of an ordinary life, and Ben Stiller reads it beautifully. One of the things I enjoyed most was sharing it with my partner, who is new to the joys of both Thurber and audiobooks.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

    It struck me how maligned is Mrs Mitty. She's as limited by their marriage as is Walter, and wants only to do the best for him. The restrictions he's seeking to escape are entirely of his own creation. I feel that Thurber blames her for the life in which Walter has trapped them both. It stood out for me much more on this reading than in my earlier years.


    What about Ben Stiller’s performance did you like?

    It wasn't overacted, or camp, or exaggerated. He let Thurber's text shine through.


    Who was the most memorable character of Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and why?

    Well - Walter is really the only character. But I have developed a fleeting fondness for the glimpse of Mrs Mitty (and I've always liked the passer-by who noticed: "That man said "puppy biscuits"! ")


    Any additional comments?

    Don't expect anything like the current Ben Stiller movie, or even the old Danny Kaye one. The genius of Thurber's story is the tiny vignette from the every day existence of someone who could be any of us. It's also a wonderful introduction for the greater absurdism of other of Thurber's humour.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Philadelphia, PA, United States 12-07-13
    Laura Philadelphia, PA, United States 12-07-13 Member Since 2008
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    "A Short Treat"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. This is is a classic short story everyone should hear.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

    The first time it switches out of fantasy into reality.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The operating room and the pen. I laughed out loud.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The ending, I always thought of this as a comic story but it is full of melancholy.


    Any additional comments?

    Ben Stiller's performance is first rate.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy LA GRANDE, OR, United States 01-19-14
    Nancy LA GRANDE, OR, United States 01-19-14 Member Since 2011
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    "I Enjoyed This"

    Great narration by Ben Stiller of a fun little story. A nice diversion and a pleasant escape.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Holt 12-22-13
    K. Holt 12-22-13
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    "Enjoyable short!"

    I enjoyed this short story...made more enjoyable because of Stiller's performance. (I do love audio books!) It's a fun teaser for the upcoming movie...it'll be interesting to see how it's portrayed in film. I recommend this audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 12-17-13
    Matthew Singapore, Singapore 12-17-13 Member Since 2013

    Moving further from work extended my daily commute... thank God for Audible.

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    "Who can blame poor ol’ Walter"

    Shamelessly listened in preparation for the upcoming movie and so pleased I did. I can understand why someone thought this extremely short story a worthy candidate for film adaptation.

    In only a few minutes, the character of Walter Mitty is impressively brought to life. His story is touching and tragic, but in small and conflicted ways. I love how Thurber kept this short instead of fleshing it out—it had the feeling of driving past a suburban home and peering in through a window… catching a glimpse of the inhabitants inside. The reader can imagine all varieties of interesting conclusions from these brief insights. And isn't that the real gift of Walter Mitty? Imagining?

    A really worthwhile, quick listen.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 94 results PREVIOUS1210NEXT
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  • Sam Roebuck
    UK
    6/3/14
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    "There's a bit of Walter in us all . . isn't there?"

    Surely the vast majority of us are aware of the character Walter Mitty, and that part of all of us that briefly inhabits other worlds ensure we empathise with him 100%. This little offering (all the better for being free!) takes us way, way back to the very origins of Walter. Yes, the setting is a little dated now, but despite that we're all right there with him for every step of his voyages through his daydream worlds. Good, traditional, short story ending, too.

    Stiller (as you would expect from an accomplished actor) is a very safe pair of hands from which to deliver Walter to us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr Marmite
    Up North, UK
    5/2/14
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    "Not a bad little story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It was a nice short little read, not bad for a quick journey into town.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?

    It was just good in general


    What about Ben Stiller’s performance did you like?

    Good vocals, nice and clear.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I wouldn't as it has been done already.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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