Father of three. Film enthusiast, literature buff. English and Italian teacher.
To some extent writing about a single book in Marcel Proust's seven-part "À la recherché du temps perdu", more accurately translated as "In Search of Lost Time" but in Moncrieff's translation having the title "Remembrance of Things Past", is actually writing about the whole series. But since I am listening to the whole of it, I'll be writing about them individually as well.
I'm by no means unfamiliar with Proust, having read seven tenths of it in Finnish, my first language, in which it has been released in ten volumes instead of the original seven ("Swann's Way" is divided in two volumes, as is "Within a Budding Grove" and "Guermantes' Way"). It'll be, then, a nice experience to return to it and ultimately go all the way.
Proust's writing works wonderfully in the audiobook format. The way his language builds up, all the allegories and metaphors stacked upon each other and how the currents of thought swerve having been recalled by any minute detail, all this works beautifully when one reads the book but exceptionally well when one is read to. In this respect Neville Jason's narration is superb. He takes his time, not procrastinating but certainly not hurrying.
Equally importantly his reading brings out the humour in Proust. And what a hoot this book really is! The dinner party at Combray and a certain episode about complementing the wine brought by Swann is hilarious on page and is really brought to life when heard out loud. Many other instances work just as wonderfully, including the Verdurin episodes in all their glorious absurdity.
And then there's Swann himself and his love and infatuation for Odette. At the same time fervent, life-affirming, destructive and inescapable, the irrationality with which Proust paints Swann's actions, or rather, the movements of his soul, only reinforces the believability of his neurotic obsession. His story is framed by the Narrator's own insecurity in love, first toward his mother at Combray, then for Gilberte.
I know how I'll be spending my next credits.
Keeping this short, there's hardly much I might add with any elaborate analysis to the wonder that is Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude". It's funny, and I mean laugh-out-loud funny, it's emotionally draining; exquisitely written, both poetic and perceptive, it's full of great characterization, all sorts of interesting turns of events and all this narrated with precise, economically beautiful language.
The audiobook was delayed, for some reason, and only released this year. John Lee's narration seems to draw the ire of many, but I for one absolutely loved his reading. True, at first I was shocked – the ebb and flowing of his sentences felt idiosyncratic and I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. But I continued listening, and very soon I found myself acknowledging that Márquez's narration is just as idiosyncratic, if not more. I was enticed by the words and the voice. In the end I was so involved I was sad when I was finished.
I think this is a wonderful audiobook, not only because the book is among my all-time favorites, but also because of Lee's performance. I've never heard any of his audiobooks before, and he sounds a bit like a musing Hugo Weaving or a Raul Hilberg. This book sold me on the idea of finding more works read by him.
"Grant me, Lord, the courage and the joy / I need to scale the summit of this day”, wrote Jorge Luis Borges of "Ulysses" in one of his sonnets. Both are needed, courage and joy, since the most challenging works of literature should be enjoyable in their difficulty. When it comes to Joyce’s great work, a colossus among the colossals, it’s quite impossible to write about the reading experience succintly, to the point, and well. I’m trying, though.
I like reading "Ulysses", but equally I love listening to it. There is something about Joyce’s language and his way of expressing things that lends beautifully to performance. His words float, soar and swerve, and I think we are incredibly lucky to have an audiobook of the work that is without equal. Narrated by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, it is an unabridged recording (27 hours and 21 minutes) that has not only been expertly read, it’s actually recorded and mixed wonderfully, and it’s amongst the best audiobooks I’ve ever encountered. This is a monumental achievement in audiobook recording that cuts no corners, takes all the time it needs in the right places, and uses technology and vision to create an unforgettable listening experience.
One of the best audiobooks I’ve ever listened to.