National Book Award, Fiction, 2012
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and 13-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.
While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
Written with undeniable urgency, and illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, The Round House is a brilliant and entertaining novel, a masterpiece of literary fiction. Louise Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too-human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.
©2012 Louise Erdrich (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
This is simply the worst narration I have heard in years of listening to recorded books. (To be fair there was one other with a terribly bad habit of emphasizing the completely wrong word, but she seems to have been retrained is now not so bad.) At first I kept checking to see if my iPod was on 1/2 speed. But it wasn't.
But worse than the speed are the pauses in such totally wrong places that one can only conclude that the narrator himself doesn't grasp what he is reading. Perhaps he failed to prepare in advance. These pauses result in an incoherent flow and I would have to re-speak the sentence in my mind. To me this was very irritating, though some listeners don't seem to mind.
I had been warned by earlier reviews but chose to buy the book anyway, so I listened and refused to let the narration spoil it for me. The narrator needs a lesson in reading out loud with better understanding and technique. Meanwhile the book really deserves to be rerecorded
Rare mix of gripping plot, rich characters, great writing (Louise Erdrich, brilliant as always). Gary Farmer's reading didn't seem right, though. As if the focus were on reading the words as individual words botching phrases to a disruptive degree. Listening to this took a little more patience and focus than expected. Not saying the novel's not worth the effort. Great book. I'd recommend checking the sample out before buying the audio, though.
This narrator could not have been worse. He paused at odd places, slurred words, did NOT pause at appropriate places like when there was a scene change, ran dialogue together so badly you could not tell who was speaking and in general massacred this pretty darn good book. What kind of audio producer let this happen? Two paragraphs in, someone should have stopped Mr. Farmer and thanked him and let him go. It is not all his fault--the recording is badly edited and produced, and everyone involved shares the blame. The story is pretty compelling and the characters are memorable, but really, it was a waste of everyone's time and energy making this recording.
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