©1999 Stephen King, All Rights Reserved, (P)1999 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved
"We now know what Stephen King, the master of horror, is afraid of. The Vietnam War...scares him so bad he won't let his hero act imprudently." (The New York Times)
"...Hurt skillfully evokes pathos from the story's fine detailing...." (Publishers Weekly)
This series of interwoven stories and characters are pieces of single plot, a grander story that pulls the listener through a sixty year period starting with childhood conundrums, politics, true friendship, mystery and romance to dealing with adulthood, family dynamics, honor and the life long implication of the Vietnam War and ending with a delightful understanding of life and its purposeful coincidences.
The narrator is just the right pace with just the right amount of nuance, as a listener you are amongst the stories.
First of all, the first quarter of this book would probably be a great story if it weren't for the painfully poor reading by William Hurt. If Hearts in Atlantis where read by anyone else with more than a sixth grade education it would have made this book more exciting, easier to suffer through, and the entire book would be about 5 hours shorter. Another reviewer likened the reading to a pot smoking college student. I agree with that analogy. This reading is rife with long unnessesary pregnant pauses. Many sentences are read slowly and deliberately with each word enunciated as if it had to be read before any consideration for the remaining words in each sentence, and then entire sentences and paragraphs become one word. There is excited emphasis in places where there should not be, and dull droning indifference where there should be excitement.
After the first portion ends, Stephen King becomes the narrator and you think,.... "thank goodness, a break from this incredibly bad reader. Unfortunately, the story becomes a dull mostly meaningless tome about several college students flunking out of school. Nearly none of the rambling has anything whatsoever to do with the story, and is very mundane. I did however, suffer through the whole thing, thinking that it would all be relevent in the end. I would say 85 percent of it was boring and superfluous.
I will suggest, if you are an extreme Stephen King fan you listen to the portions read by William Hurt (beginning and end), and skip the entire portion read by King. Be forewarned, it will be diificult to overcome the dreadfully poor, slow reading.
If I where to summarize this dreadful reading in a word it would be.... dissapointment.
Eventually I accepted William Hurt's narration and put up with King's because the stories, especially the first one, sucked me in.
This is a good book. Took a little longer to get into than I thought it would. I wasn't crazy about William Hurt...seemed like he was halfheartedly reading the story. Overall, I would recommend this book.
This has got to be the absolute worst reading of a novel I have ever had the great misfortune to experience. I can't believe Mr. King approved the release of his book in this condition. With the ill timed and exceedingly long pauses, loud, hissing deep breaths, inappropriate inflections in his voice and the general disinterested, flat, monotonous tone with which he read, William Hurt, truly ruined this novel for me. He did a great disservice to Mr. King, who is a fabulous writer. The story may have been good, in fact, I am pretty sure it was quite good, knowing Mr. King's reputation and having read many of his novels, but I was so distracted by the lousy reading that I just gave up listening. I guess I'll have to read the book before I can pass judgment on the actual story.
I do not recommend this audiobook based on William Hurts performance.
I knew that the movie had been well received, but wasn't too sure what I would think of a series of related stories. I was surprised when it didn't seem that way at all; they really hung together. This was a memorable book that I looked forward to listening to on my commutes. Stephen King is getting better and better.
Sadly, I may never know how this story ends. I can't believe no one has mentioned the horrid narration job done by the otherwise excellent actor, William Hurt. I could not make it through Bobby's story having to listen to William's heavy breathing and nasally flat delivery. He also seemed to rush through parts of a sentence and then pause in all the wrong places...Considering his reputation for perfectionism, I'm surprised he was satisfied with the results of his work.
I love King so I hope to read this eventually. Maybe, if it's re-released with a new narrator, I'll give it another shot. In the meantime I can dream about an unabridged version of The Stand.
"Low Men in Yellow Coats" is a great insight into Ted Brautigan, a major character in the last of the Dark Tower series.
Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to William Hurt's narration style, slow with some strange pauses, but he really brought the characters alive for me in ways that Frank Muller and George Guidall never did.
But mostly it is King's magic story telling that really hit me in this book. He perfectly captures coming of age events, like a first kiss and dealing with bullies. I loved this book.
What a great story (ies). King is a great narrator, but Hurt sounds like someone recorded all of his words individually and then dubbed them together. Sentences stopping and starting midstream, very jerky. He is awful. If he was trying to use his style to "act", lord it took some getting used to. Otherwise, the story is great. Hurt, don't quit your acting job to become a narrator, you would starve.
I've been a Stephen King fan for years, to the extent that I've bought a copy of each and every one of his books and any audio book I could get my hands on. That said, I found myself distinctly luke warm to this collection of stories. While it does tie in - marginally - with the Dark Tower series, that tie is loose. Did I listen to it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Sorta, kinda, maybe. Will I listen to it again? Well, perhaps, but not for quite a long while.
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