LISTENER

RONAN O'CALLAGHAN

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  • 54
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  • 18
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Yes - here’s why.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-05-20

I guess the main point of something like this is to help you decide Should I listen to this or not?

It is long - but then the reader is doing the work for you. And he does a superb job 95% of the time. His tone seems absolutely right generally and he dramatises brilliantly some passages which merit being dramatised.
I can’t say I like everything about Infinite Jest. Parts of it I would describe as mildly entertaining. Parts seem gratuitously disturbing. But it’s not for those parts I recommend you listen to it or read it. The most telling passages are truly bravura pieces of writing which I would be very sorry to have not encountered. Sometimes deeply moving, sometimes very funny, sometimes just spectacularly well observed. Writing of this quality is such a rarity we can’t afford to miss out on it.

Don’t think twice. Nothing else is like The Odyssey.

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

Reviewed: 24-04-19

Having read the Richmond Lattimore translation a couple of times - first for study and years later for pure pleasure, I had hoped in vain for an audiobook of that. The Audible version of his Iliad translation is stunning to listen to.
So I was intrigued when this popped up as a suggestion and I read some reviews.
If you have not read The Odyssey already you should probably skip Emily Wilson’s introduction at first. But do come back to it when you can appreciate it - it considers the work from many angles but always in a relatable, engaging style and I agree with the reviewer who said the price is worth it for the introduction alone.
She aims for very plain language generally and for the most part it works very well. I love the fact that it is line for line. Her reluctance to reproduce the repetitive formulaic phrases such as ‘rosy fingered dawn’ etc is something she justifies in advance but I actually missed the charm of the repetitions and found her attempts at variation sometimes strained.
However, a great deal of power which can only originate in the narrative method of the original surges through her plain speaking unstoppably, wringing out almost every emotion imaginable before the shocking (to us) bloodbath of its climax.
Yes, there are some strange and alien ways of thinking in Homer’s world but far more striking and moving to me is how much we still share with the listeners of his time in our passions, fears, yearnings and consolations. And how much of the art of storytelling had already been mastered three thousand years ago.

Claire Danes performs it like she’s living it.

14 people found this helpful

Stay with it.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-01-19

I saw another reviewer commenting to the effect that this is a tediously drawn out account of the minutiae of a life story of a nonentity in an obscure location.

I have to confess that there were times in the first third or so of the narrative when I considered not bothering - having begun with the assumption that there would be something more eventful or dramatic than there is.

However the characters and their exquisitely described surroundings gradually wormed their way into my consciousness to a point where I began to dread the approaching end of the story - as there would be no more of those so enjoyable sojourns in that time and place.

This review does not tell you much about what the book is about but others have done justice to that task. Here I am adding my tuppence worth simply to say I am so glad I stayed with it as it is richly rewarding and satisfying in the end.

Entertaining and witty

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-04-18

Surprisingly daring in some ways, though confined to a privileged world. Great fun altogether.
Jenny Agutter’s English voices are great. The French ones need some tolerance (tante rhyming with ant, m’sewer, Gide with a hard G etc) but I was glad I stayed with it.

Spark flies

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-02-18

What the hell just happened? - you may think at the end. It does not matter so much. The pleasure is mostly in Spark’s idiosyncratic narrative voice, full of surprising turns and dry observations with the occasional devastating image.

3 people found this helpful

Wouldn’t bother

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

Reviewed: 04-02-18

Stuck it out to the end as I had gathered there were author tricks in store. Yes there are.

There are a few very good passages. The nurse in wartime London feels very vivid and genuine.

Mostly I felt McEwan trying hard but just lacking the spark of writing which really touches it illuminates. Occasionally excruciatingly precious, coy, contrived or smug.
I really can’t recommend this.
I found something similar ages ago reading Enduring Love in print - though that has one of the most stunning opening scenes ever, he just can’t seem to keep it up but boy will he try, try, try again.

Vivid and fascinating.

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

Reviewed: 26-08-17

Only one third through but I'm in no doubt I'll want all 13 hours. It's like a drug.
I almost didn't click but curiosity made me listen to the sample and I was drawn in by the sound and the imagery straight away.
Nordic noir was never so harsh and lyrical.
What a delight to realise later that the reader Keith Bosley is also the translator! Amazing job.
I would tend to get bored by folk tales and myths if the text is plodding - it takes the driving energy of poetry like this to bring such material to life and that is here in abundance.

11 people found this helpful

Extraordinary

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

Reviewed: 30-12-16

Other reviewers here have articulated the qualities of these two very different works. If you only like a 'proper story' you probably shouldn't bother.
The exquisite pleasures here have little to do with what happens and everything to do with originality of language, imagery and superb reading.

Roth read by Silver is stunning.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-10-16

As a recent newcomer to Roth, I read The Plot Against America in paperback this summer and enjoyed it so then I tried American Pastoral read by Ron Silver on Audible. That was sensationally good so then I tried My Life As A Man but it was a different reader and a few chapters in I realised it was quite disappointing so I returned it and looked for another one read by Silver - which led me to this.
I've been enjoying a variety of good books for several years now on Audible and I always find that having the right reader is incredibly important. But in all my experience there has been nothing to compare with the marriage of Roth's prose with Silver's delivery. No doubt it is bound up in Roth's anecdotal monologue sort of method but if ever there were books which burst into flame when performed aloud they are these ones.
Silver's range of tone, pace and dynamics is virtuosic while expressing the deepest humanity. I wish everything of Roth's was available here read by Ron Silver.

4 people found this helpful

A real writer

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-16

Read my first Highsmith recently (The Talented Mr Ripley) and was knocked out by the qualities of her writing. Decided to try this one as something really different. Lots of good things here, besides being very brave in its day.

2 people found this helpful