©1960 Jack Kerouac; ©1972 The Estate of Jack Kerouac, All Rights Reserved; (P) and ©1996 Penguin Books USA Inc.
Winner of Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award: Best Audio of 1996, Dramatic Reading.
Why pick a narrator with a British accent to read Kerouac? Why make the jazz background music so prominent and incessant? Why abridge a work whose thorough, thick description is precisely the point? I'm a fan of Kerouac and have loved other readings of his works (I'm partial to Matt Dillon's reading of On the Road,) but I find this one marred by pretentiousness and difficult to appreciate.
I have to agree with an earlier review. I thought that the accent of the narrator would not bother me. I am a world traveler, but I do know that traveling the states is a different thing all together, and I find this reading to be awful and unlistenable. Very disappointing.
I have read Visions of Cody, I have heard audio of Kerouac reading excerpts. Kerouac has a very unique delivery and cadence that many have tried to emulate, some do it pretty well, some don't. Using his native accent, there is no attempt to imitate the sound of Kerouac reading; the issue being Kerouac's writing is essential tied to the cadence, timbre, and accent he developed being of French Canadian ancestry in Massachusetts. The accent may not be as jarring with another Kerouac book, such as Town and City or Dr. Sax, but this is not a narrative as much as a collection of visions and they just don't work with the cadence and pronunciations painted on them. If the accent isn't bad enough, there is an insistence on aura music in the background of the reading, such as pseudo-bebop jazz riffs, the required beatnik bongos, and japanese flutes wafting zen-like through the words, that just make this feel more of an attempt at performance art than the reading of a book.
The narrator may be a successful "Pop Star" but his cockney accent isn't exactly the King's English nor is it the right voice for this most American of material.
It's hard to take and I foud myself dragging through this book in fits and starts only because of my dedication to Kerouac and the story.
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