• The Adventures of Augie March

  • By: Saul Bellow
  • Narrated by: Tom Parker
  • Length: 22 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (607 ratings)

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The Adventures of Augie March  By  cover art

The Adventures of Augie March

By: Saul Bellow
Narrated by: Tom Parker
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Publisher's summary

Augie is a poor but exuberant boy growing up in Chicago during the Depression. While his friends all settle into chosen professions, Augie demands a special destiny. He tests out a wild succession of occupations, proudly rejecting each as too limiting - until he tangles with the glamorous perfectionist Thea.
©1949 Saul Bellow (P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Adventures of Augie March

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

THAT part of the Universe visible from Chicago!

I knew from the first couple paragraphs of this novel that it was fantastic, amazing, like a well-built Italian or German sports car. However, once Bellow jumps into Augie's flight to Mexico with Thea (where they try to to catch Mexican lizards with a wussy eagle) it was equivalent to discovering the sports car you are driving actually has 7 gears and your radio goes to 11. Anyway, this is one of those books where sentences seem likely to escape the gravity of English, the characters are as big as planets, and the plot is as big as Eternity or at least the Universe or at least that part of the Universe visible from Chicago.

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41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story, wonderful reader

What a fabulous novel, and so well read by Tom Parker. I ended up buying the book as well, to reread some chapters and have the opportunity to ponder the philosophical musings expressed by the various vivid characters in this story. I found myself thinking of Dickens so often as I was listening to and reading this novel--the rich teeming life of a city, the wildly improbable yet wholly believable one-of-a-kind characters, the comic antics, the sorrow, the crazy business of living and trying to find any meaning in it at all. I've been listening to lots of Dickens on Audible, and now I'll add Bellow to my wish list. These are great books to listen to and live with, and think about long after you've read or heard the last word. One line I love from Augie's tale: "I refuse to live a disappointed life."

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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite book in the world

I have read this over and over and now I can listen to it.
The characters are all interesting and knowable, but the thing about it is the language.
The rich rich American language. The descriptions of things and places and people and emotions and confusions are all-encompassing. There is no book you ever get inside of like you get inside of this one.
Saul Bellow was a great writer, and I've enjoyed all his books, especially "The Dean's December," but this is his youthful outpouring, just a flood of words and characters and situations, each as engaging as the last.
My favorite. All-time.

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17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Odd, Dated and Excellent: Don't Miss It

This book is like On the Road: The Original Scroll - Jack Kerouac. Tone it down a bit and you've got a pretty similar story. In fact, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't an influence of one upon the other though I couldn't specify the direction of flow.

If you haven't experienced Bellow, I'd start with Henderson the Rain King. This book is brilliant but might drag on you if you're not used to the style. Bellow gives a little story and then injects a bit of philosophy or insight. These sparks are beautiful, like having your way lit through a wooded path in the night with the flicking of a lighter that never lights. But that's not a criticism, it's the bright flashes that give snap shots that a steady lighting would only blur.

And there it is. You get this series of flashes of this guy's life. It's a wonderful, flawless romp.

I loved every minute.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Lots of Words, Little Plot

If you like highly descriptive prose, this book is for you! If you appreciate long descriptions of each and every character -- even those that don't advance the story -- or if you enjoy books with little or no plot at all, then this book is for you!

I like eclectic and offbeat reads, but I found this book to be tedious and endless. I slogged through the whole thing, but that was only stubborness on my part. I can't even claim unrequited curiosity -- at the midpoint I just wanted the main character (and all the other hundreds of thoroughly-described characters) to be hit by a bus.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Little Action, Little Story, Great Book

If you require action and a strong arc of plot, this is likely not the book for you. I loved it. I suspect this book will be better appreciated by more mature readers. The young might feel this book portrays life as a chaotic unpleasant cacophony, while mature readers might better appreciate the underlying beauty of the individual’s interactions with the chaos that is life. This book follows the protagonist from a poor Chicago childhood through adulthood and the many strange twists and turns of life while the narrator evolves with the protagonist, learning about himself and the world, yet never having, or even wanting, control. Some reviewers comment upon the blatant sexism and objectification of women. Yep, the guys in this book (as some in non-fiction) are dogs. There were other surprising aspects of reality reflected in this 1949 novel: gays, transvestites, abortion, adultery, communism, and more. The prose ranges from good to spectacular. Bellows amazingly makes the language seem American colloquial while avoiding, almost entirely, clichés.

The narration is wonderful, with brilliant characterizations from youth to adulthood, clarity to confusion, and conveying both the wisdom and foolishness of human existence in America.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A lousy choice for 1Book 1Chicago

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

To some friends only -- those who are into literary fiction that has no real plot. I would recommend it to persons who revel in language and turns of a good phrase, to people who are so well educated as to "get" all the references, allusions and "inside" jokes. I would not recommend it to a traveler needing a long read. I gave it to my son for a trip to London and he gave up after 20 pp. It's a tough sell, this book. It is based in Chicago (mostly). It is about a boy growing up and how he makes his choices and finds a way to live a life that is not a disappointment. But Augie's telling of it (1st person) is so tedious, so drawn out that even at the end I could not champion the boy's overcomings. Few (1 or 2) characters were interesting and memorable -- and Augie is NOT one of them. Some of the episodes of his life were interesting. none was laugh out loud or tear-jerking.

By the end, I believe Bellow summoned up every "great" book ever written -- and he managed to incorporate no less than Don Quijote de La Mancha, Frankenstein, Robinson Crusoe and a hundred other ancient texts and parables as well.

I felt as if I was watching as Bellow trotted out his lofty education, as if he wanted the reader to know he had "made it." I am not speaking of Augie March, but of the author himself.

I cannot understand how this was a Nobel winner. Yes, it details the life of a young Jewish American boy, and it underscores the myths of what makes a life, but really, it's just too tedious. Augie's sufferings are minor, his joys are diluted, his fears are tepid, his actions are null -- if action is what you call his responses.

So, what was good about it? Language, references to those arcane texts (if you're into the scholarly stuff). Unbelievably, there were no dates of any sort. No placement on the timeline, though all the literature says it starts in Depression era Chicago. We can surmise through the aging of the characters that it ends in the late 50s, early 1960s, but not sure. Perhaps this is Bellow's idea of making it an everyman bildungsroman that could land in any era, but I found it inaccessible.

Am I glad I read it? Yes... another notch on the bookshelf.. I feel I accomplished a great feat by finishing it and trying hard to exact some value from it.

Recommend it? Yes, with the qualifications stated above.

Has The Adventures of Augie March turned you off from other books in this genre?

No..

What about Tom Parker???s performance did you like?

Clarity, emotion (where none was in the text), apparent effort to make us care about the characters who were white-washed and stiff.

Did The Adventures of Augie March inspire you to do anything?

Some thoughts of Augie's are very deep and profound. It will cause me to go back to my highlighted passages (Kindle and Audible) because they did resonate with me and I felt some of the philosphies applied to me.

Any additional comments?

Taking on this text requires a dedication that may work best in intervals. It is valuable because it is part of the canon of American literature. As for being a Chicago-based book.. I don't think so. There are about 4-5 chapters that transpire in Mexico, some more in Paris, and others in New York. Except for Augie's propensity to deal in certain illicit activities (and that's not specific to Chicago either), Chicago is only mentioned in wistful reminiscences or references to where characters hang out, get the streetcar, go and party, etc.

I expected more ethnicity out of this Chicago born Jewish writer. It just was not there. Adjust your expectations and it will be fine.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Why Some Authors Win Nobel Prizes


I have read other books by Saul Bellow but somehow missed this one. To say that I loved it is an understatement. Such beautiful prose to describe hard lives in an ugly time!.This was a joy all the way through. My thanks to Mr. Parker for his wonderful narration.

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7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Different but good

This is a really peculiar book, a very American picaresque bildungsroman, about a young Jewish man growing up in Depression Era Chicago and traveling a bit - to Mexico. What makes it peculiar is that Augie just seems to tumble from one escapade to another always managing to land on his feet and continue the journey. He goes from one group of people to another, one woman to the next, times of money and no money, etc. His basic employment seems to be that of book thief, but he's open to much of what comes along although some troubles he just lands in though his own life mismanagement. His survival skills, physical, emotional and material, are certainly well-honed. The message seems to be that "Local boy can never quite get it together and stays lost."

A lot of it is quite funny and Augie is certainly an engaging protagonist. Bellow is an excellent stylist and the dialogue is top-notch. The reader, Tom Parker, was a bit irritating at first but after I got used to it his voice was perfect - the accent of young Chicago 50 years ago.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

So this is why people like Saul Bellow

I know I'm on dangerous ground criticizing a classic like this, but I really liked the growing up years better than the adult years in this book. Partly I guess that's because it was like a window into the world of my grandparents, partly because the adult Augie just seemed too wishy-washy about taking charge of his own life. Not that that's unusual but it makes for a mixed bag as far as literature is concerned. I did love the narrator's voice throughout. I miss the big city accents out here on the west coast. For that matter, I love Saul Bellow's 'voice' throughout. He is a keen observer of humanity and his characters are always interesting even when they're annoying or aggravating or just being stupid.

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5 people found this helpful