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Barney Panofsky - Canadian expat, wily lover of women, writer, television producer, raconteur - is finally putting pen to paper so he can rebut the charges about him made in his rival’s autobiography. Whether it’s ranting about his bohemian misadventures during the 1950s in Paris, his tumultuous three marriages, or his successful trashy TV company, Totally Unnecessary Productions, he quickly proves that his memory may be slipping, but his bile isn’t. But when he’s charged with the murder of his own best friend - caught in bed with the second Mrs. Panofsky - Barney’s version of things might not be enough to keep him out of trouble.
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A wonderful listen - Richler at his best
A sprawling epic of a book - this is one man's long and very checkered life, according to him. The book takes us from his Jewish immigrant roots through his bohemian days in Paris to his enormously successful career as a TV producer of pap, to his descent into Alzheimer's. Similar in scope to William Boyd's Any Human Heart, it is a book that takes you on an amazing voyage around someone else's world. It is also very funny. It is beautifully written (in non-linear form, Barney's memories take him all over the place) and it is very well read.
Pleased be warned, Barney is a complex character and a product of his time so he is not the least bit right on. But he's a wonderful character nonetheless.
2 people found this helpful
- Peter S. Zaas
Who proofreads these productions?
This is a novel I know well, and I enjoyed listening to it as an audiobook. But Mr. Abbey's narration is curiously bad. I say "curiously," because his ability to create characterizations--his vocal acting--is among the best I've heard in the many (very many!) books I've heard from Audible. But his pronunciation of non-English words, especially words in Hebrew, Yiddish, and French, but also in German and Latin ("cum laude" is pronounced as two syllables in the 2nd word, "come laow-day") and including a number of relatively familiar names (the last name of the famous Secretary of State was "Dull-uhs" not "Dulls") is just terrible. This is particularly a problem with words from the Jewish tradition in Hebrew and Yiddish, where Mr. Abbey mangles every single synagogue name, every Hebrew phrase, and almost every Yiddish word. Since these words are so important in establishing the central character, and since Mr. Abbey is such a terrific actor, the listener finds himself wondering why Barney Panovsky, the narrator (who is, after all, concerned that he's losing his mind) has suddenly lost the ability to pronounce the words of his own tradition properly! These are really mangled; take the word of this old language teacher, and they harm the experience of listening to the book.
I don't know much about the production of audiobooks, but there is usually a producer listed, and I imagine it's the producer's job to proofread, or proof-listen, or whatever you call it. In a book with a heavy sprinkling of foreign-language words, it's essential to find out how these words are pronounced, and to let your actor/narrator know when he's made an error. If you want help with this, in all of the languages covered by the book, call me. (I'm not looking for work, really, but would like my Audiobooks not to be ruined by sloppy production). Otherwise, please find a way to correct these errors. Audible usually gets this right, but not here.
I look forward to listening to more books read by Mr. Abbey, who has beautiful English diction. But he needs help here!
6 people found this helpful
Narration ruins it.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
A narrator who actually has heard anyone from Montreal talk and pronounce French names.
Being a Montrealler myself, I winced each time he would try say any Quebec place name or person's name.It was very distracting.
Would you be willing to try another book from Mordecai Richler? Why or why not?
Yes, by a different narrator.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Graham Abbey?
Someone who knows Montreal and knows how it's Jewish community speaks.
Any additional comments?
I'm going to get the paper book version and read it.
1 person found this helpful
- Anonymous User
Sameness and boredom
I didn't finish this book. I'd had it by around the 20 per cent mark with the whining, sour ramblings of Barney as he doles out his version of his personal history.
A Jew who grew up in Canada and went to Paris in the 1950s to immerse himself in the Left Bank arts scene, Barney has his memories.
Now he is sharing with us in a first person voice (think Philip Roth doing an extended late night stand up routine) that maintains a sameness and soon courts boredom. Witty he is not. Deft, no. Interesting? Only in a desultory sort of way.