In this powerful, eerily convincing fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Don DeLillo chronicles Lee Harvey Oswald's odyssey from troubled teenager to a man of precarious stability who imagines himself an agent of history.
When "history" presents itself in the form of two disgruntled CIA operatives who decide that an unsuccessful attempt on the life of the president will galvanize the nation against communism, the scales are irrevocably tipped.
A gripping, masterful blend of fact and fiction, alive with meticulously portrayed characters both real and created, Libra is a grave, haunting, and brilliant examination of an event that has become an indelible part of the American psyche.
©1988 Don DeLillo (P)2016 Simon & Schuster
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
I like to finish what I start. Having started close to 300 audiobooks, this is maybe the fourth or fifth time I'm bailing out. That's a pretty good record, 98-99% completion rate. My lifetime rate with print books, of which I must have read thousands in my 60 years, has got to be the tiniest fraction under 100% -- I always finish what I start. Not this time. 3 hours in, all I can say is, life's too short to waste another 15 hours on this.
If nothing else, the narration is dreadful. Releasing an audio edition of a classic novel nearly 30 years after its heralded release, from a boundless choice of narrators, these folks landed on a guy another reviewer aptly described as Joe Friday (before seeing that, I was thinking General Jack Ripper from Dr. Strangelove). If all it took me was two minutes of skimming Audible reviews to conclude that readers routinely hate this narrator no matter what he reads, surely the producers of this audiobook could have done better.
But it's not just that. With the public still clamoring to learn what really happened to JFK al; these many years later, who in tarnation needs a fictional account, one where you can't tell the real bits from the made up ones? And who in tarnation wants to hear a disinterested morally ambiguous take on Oswald as a protagonist? I'm not going to waste another 15 hours trying to figure out if that person is me, not after such an awful first 3 hours.
And yet, even if you're OK with all of that, what kind of writing is this? We first see Oswald as truant youth uninterested in school, we next see him as a devout communist, devouring the works of Marx and Lenin. How in tarnation did he make that leap? Not explained, not in the first 3 hours. We get a capsule summary of the back story of one of the prime conspirators, none of which is elucidated other than to list his characteristics, to which is tacked on, oh by the way, his career was ruined by his proclivity for young boys. Bazinga! Never explained.
An independent author I like to read once said, give us a chance, try our stuff out, if you don't like it, if it doesn't grab you, put it down and move on to something else. Don DeLillo is not an independent author relying on chance discovery, he is one of the most celebrated and influential literary novelists of the past half century. Nevertheless, I'm putting this one down, and I don't expect to waste any more of my time on him.
A different narrator. It sounded as if Joe Friday from Dragnet was reading the book.
No. The narrator ruined the book for me.
It sounded like he was reading the phone book. There was no modulation between characters. It made listening an unpleasant chore.
I might read it one day. I think I would have liked it much better.
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