Author of 27 novels, Joyce Carol Oates has won a National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Readers around the world marvel at her ability to trace the subtle dynamics at work in the modern American family.
Judd is the youngest of the four Mulvaney children - three boys and a girl - on their parents’ lush farm in upstate New York. In his childhood, Judd is swept along by the sheer energy of the Mulvaneys and their wealth of beloved family stories. But now, 30 years old, Judd looks back through his memories to tell the secrets that eventually ripped apart the fabric of his storybook family.
Reminiscent of the works of Jane Smiley and Anne Tyler, Oates’ novel tells a tale that could be tragic, but is, instead, a ringing affirmation. Narrator Scott Shina’s performance perfectly captures the complex relationships within the Mulvaney clan.
©1996 The Ontario Review, Inc. (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
Follow me on Goodreads too!
If I have to answer yes or no to the question “did you like the book” I would answer yes, however I felt like there were too many tangents and not enough plot.
The book is about how a family essentially disintegrates following the date-rape of the daughter… yet I’m not so convinced that they would have remained “a happy nuclear family” had the sad events not occurred.
It felt like I was reading a bunch of short stories about a dysfunctional family and there was no point. The tangent about Muffin The Cat was so particularly pointless, it did nothing to advance the story - aside from making me sad about losing my own cat one day.
Overall - not bad, not great… I finished feeling rather neutral.
As for the production, I laughed out loud when suddenly I was told I was on cassette 5! HA! A bit of shotty editing there!
I enjoyed the story which I have read before.
The only thing that was pretty annoying about it was that although the reader does a good job in many ways he seems to be totally unaware of how people speak in New York. He did the accents more like people from the deep South - maybe Texas.
I don't like to write many reviews - usually only to help other listeners find gems or avoid books that I think are just overall bad (but not because they just don't meet my taste in books). This the latter. Fortunately, I got it when was a low price, so that didn't hurt so much.
I was maybe a third into the book when I wanted to immediately call Carol Joyce Oats and let her know that some untalented teenager was using her name on a book titled We Were The Mulvaneys.
This is a very character driven book, but they are amazingly one dimensional. In the book synopsis, these excerpts: "… Judd looks back through his memories to tell the secrets that eventually ripped apart the fabric of his storybook family." and "….Oates’ novel tells a tale that could be tragic, but is, instead, a ringing affirmation." OK, so going in we know that there will be some event or events that are bad and hidden and that things turn out alright in some way. And that is what we get, but it's like seeing it on TV, except with little drama and no humor.
There is absolutely no introspection of either the writer (Judd) or any of the other characters for why people are doing what they are doing. We just see them do it. This could have been about how the family members and others felt about what happened, their perceptions and perspective on events and why they made the good or poor choices in their lives. The Judd character is just writing an article where other members of the family have apparently told him the events but not why they did anything they did or what they thought to themselves. And the affirmation ending is just as one dimensional as the rest of the book. There is no catharsis or reflection by any of the characters. We just see them going about their lives. To me, this is a very flimsy story. I expected more from this author.
Oh, and to add to the poor experience, the reader is quite bad on this book. Believe I have listened to him another time and liked his performance, but not on this book. Too often, it's clear he's reading a book he's not that familiar with, pausing in inappropriate places, like he thought that was the end of the sentence, but oh wait, here it continues on the next page.
No the story could have been told in half an hour I just felt it would not move forward
Cut out so much unecessary descriptions and stop keeping moving backwards instead of getting on with the story
Not so much rambling and cut the book down by about three quarters
This is my first book written by Joyce Carol Oates definitely not my cup of tea
Needs action and a different writer perhaps
The story was so very boring, I went in and steam cleaned my bedrooms, came out and couldn't see that I had missed anything with the time I has been out of the room.
His performance was the only shinning light of the book. It was okay.
None that I could fine
This is definitely a book to return.
Aside from the middlebrow writing of Oates, the narrator is completely irritating. The Mulvaneys live in upstate New York and always have. But whenever the narrator "does" either the mother's or the father's voices, he uses a down-home Texas accent. Mrs. Mulvaney sounds like Sissy Spacek. It is so irritating I could not go on.
Joyce Carol Oates is a brilliant writer, and this book doesn't disappoint. But the narrator is juvenile, inept, and a bit patronizing in his reading, to the point where I frankly can't imagine getting through the audio. The story of this family might be engrossing and heartbreaking to many listeners; I am resentful on the author's behalf that this twit's rendition of it may drive them away.
Her "A Widow's Story," on the other hand, was exquisitely read.
If this story had ended half way through the book it would have been a classic. Unfortunately, it went on and on. It's a sad story of how a family reacts to a young girl's rape and how the family is torn apart from the rape due to selfishness and inability to understand that a child should be helped more than an adult who chooses to drink his life away.
Not for a while. Just don't want to listen to a book that keeps going when it should have ended.
I have not listened to any of Scott Shina's performances before but thought he did very well with this book.
No, should it have?
i'm a man without conviction
i've had more satisfying night terrors. if that's your thing then this book is for you.
I had already seen the movie and was looking for more information about why Mary Anne was sent away. I figured it got edited out of the movie. WRONG. Instead I found this a tedious account of a superficial family that disintegrated and blamed it all on a horrible rape. the actions of the family were still unfathomable in the book as in the movie. thankfully my iphone has the ability to speed up the book so I listened to the last half at 1.5 and 2 times normal. It was the only way through it. I'm glad Oprah liked this book but I sure didn't.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.