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Highly praised but disappointing

Gesamt
3 out of 5 stars
Sprecher
3 out of 5 stars
Geschichte
2 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 22.11.2019

I read this book because I'd seen some very positive reviews, but it did not live up to my expectations. The two main characters are flat and uninteresting, and their relationship is clearly supposed to attract the reader's interest, but it's anything but compelling.

But that's not my biggest complaint; I wasn't looking for a convincing romance. In fact, I was primarily interested in the way that this novel represented migration and refugees. Unfortunately, it was disappointing in that respect, as well. There have been a lot of significant literary works dealing in subtle ways with the recent refugee crisis, but this book is not one of them. It essentially transports the current reality into a very slightly different future, which is not all that different from the present except for two things: first, the crises that the world is currently confronting (climate change, military conflict, inadequate support for refugees) have become more acute; and second, there are some magical doors that allow people to teleport from one place to another, but only sometimes, and via a mechanism that remains unexplained. Apparently this minor attempt at magical realism is supposed to add to the interest of this novel, but actually it carries surprisingly little weight, and only means that the actual struggle of many refugees to reach their intended destination is completely elided. Fleeing to a new country seems a lot easier when you can do it through a secret door in the back of a bar.

In addition to this unsatisfying attempt to represent the situation of refugees, this book simply fails in stylistic terms. The audiobook is read by the author, which is always a risk, but personally I didn't object to his reading voice, and I don't think it would have been better with another reader. The problem is on the level of the sentence. This is obviously an author who wants very badly to sound like he has something important to say. You can tell that, for instance, by the fact that he always uses the conjunction "for" instead of "because." To take an example that's not directly from the book, but close enough: "He concluded that the time had come to proceed homeward, for the sun had begun to set." Now, what does that sentence actually mean? It means that he decided to go home, because the sun was setting. I have no objection to literary flair, but it has to be earned. This novel reaches for an elevated tone, but the author seems unable to distinguish between the passages that require it and those that would be better off without it. The pretentious tone often clashes with long passages about mundane topics like people trying to find chargers for their cell phones. Yes, these mundane things are also part of the experience that many refugees confront. But if they aren't told in a compelling way, then they're nothing but mundane. I was surprised by how flat and insignificant many passages of this book felt -- not because what was happening in them seemed unimportant to the characters, but because the author had failed to make either the characters or the events engaging. I have nothing against some fine-grained realism if it's done well, but at some point we move from the realistic to the quotidian to the tedious. Unfortunately, the last of those describes this novel the best.

Beautiful writing, terrible reading

Gesamt
3 out of 5 stars
Sprecher
1 out of 5 stars
Geschichte
5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 16.11.2018

You probably don't need me to tell you that Marilynne Robinson is a brilliant writer. She writes haunting, sophisticated, thoughtful prose. Unfortunately, nobody told Becket Royce that. This reader (whose other work apparently includes Christmas stories and genre fiction) is totally unsuited to Marilynne Robinson's work. She reads with all the expressiveness of the GPS directions on my phone, or a flight attendant going through emergency procedures. Her tone is almost robotic, as if she had no idea what the sentences she's reading actually mean, and each sentence seems entirely detached from the sentences before and after. She reads the most powerful passages in the story with the indifference of a waitress telling you what salad dressings are available. I forced myself to finish the book because I was on a trip with no other options, but I would not recommend this reader to anyone.

Ein Leser soll lesen, nicht flüstern

Gesamt
3 out of 5 stars
Sprecher
2 out of 5 stars
Geschichte
5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 10.09.2018

Zum Text von Adalbert Stifter brauche ich nichts zu sagen. Wer Stifter gerne liest, wird diesen Text auch genießen. Allerdings nur dann, wenn er ihn in einer ganz stillen Umgebung mit ganz starken Lautsprechern hört. Westphal gilt zwar als "König der Vorleser", in diesem Fall müsste man ihn aber eher "König der Flüsterer" nennen. Ich wollte das Buch beim Fahren hören, aber gerade dann, wenn er besonders "dramatisch" sein will, spricht Westphal so tief und leise, dass mein kein Wort verstehen kann -- und das mit der Stereoanlage voll aufgedreht. Ein bisschen schauspielern darf man beim Lesen schon, aber das Wichtigste bei einem Hörbuch ist ja schließlich, dass man es hören kann, sonst hat es, wie in diesem Fall, keinen Zweck.

1 Person fand das hilfreich

Tolles Buch, aber als Hörbuch etwas schwierig...

Gesamt
4 out of 5 stars
Sprecher
3 out of 5 stars
Geschichte
5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 19.03.2018

Halten Sie die Hörbuch-Ausgabe von Ada, or Ardor für besser als das Buch?

Nein

Was mochten Sie an der Handlung am liebsten?

Bei Nabokov ist das schwer zu sagen.

Was hätte der Erzähler des Hörbuchs besser machen können?

Er hätte die Fremdsprachen, die im Text vorkommen, besser beherrschen können.

Gab es im Hörbuch einen Moment, der Sie ganz besonders berührt hat?

Die Kapitel über die Zeit am Ende.

Was wäre für andere Hörer sonst noch hilfreich zu wissen, um das Hörbuch richtig einschätzen zu können?

Ich habe Nabokov als Autor sehr gern, ich habe mehrere Bücher von ihm gelesen bzw. gehört, aber leider passt dieses Buch nicht so gut zum Hörbuch-Format. Zum einen gibt es neben dem englischsprachigen Text viele Gespräche usw. auf Französisch, Russisch, ab und zu sogar Deutsch, und der Sprecher scheint diese Sprachen nicht so gut zu beherrschen. Sein Französisch geht noch, übers Russisch kann ich nicht urteilen, aber die deutschen Ausdrücke, die vorkommen, sind kaum verständlich. Dazu passt das Buch einfach nicht so gut zum Audio-Format, da es viele "Anmerkungen des Redakteurs", usw. gibt (alle fingiert, versteht sich -- es ist ja Nabokov), die man sicherlich beim Lesen besser versteht als beim Hören. Es gibt Teile von diesem Buch -- vor allem am Ende -- die auch beim Hören überzeugen, aber im Grunde hatte ich das Gefühl, dass man dieses Buch lieber lesen als hören soll.

2 Leute fanden das hilfreich

Well written, poorly read

Gesamt
4 out of 5 stars
Sprecher
2 out of 5 stars
Geschichte
5 out of 5 stars

Rezensiert am: 26.09.2017

Halten Sie die Hörbuch-Ausgabe von Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life für besser als das Buch?

Nein.

Was mochten Sie an der Handlung am liebsten?

This book is an accessible account of Marx's life, including discussion of his major works and some key issues and controversies. The discussion is not aimed at a specialist audience, it provides enough background for a general reader with an interest in 19th-century philosophy and political history to follow Marx's development.

Wen hätten Sie anstatt Kevin Stillwell als Erzähler vorgeschlagen?

Unfortunately, the reader of this book is painfully slow. I say that as someone who does not necessarily need a fast-paced reader. I normally listen to audiobooks at 1.0x or 1.25x speed. This one I listened to at 2.0x speed, because I was driving, and I was afraid that the slow reading would put me to sleep. In addition, the speaker mispronounces some words that are pretty important to the subject matter of the book, like "emigre" and even "Hegel"! Hearing "Hegel" pronounced about 100 times with the emphasis on the second syllable drove me crazy. The reader also clearly has little or no knowledge of German. A few German terms (like "Wissenschaft") are pronounced correctly, but others are nearly unrecognizable.

Hätten Sie das Hörbuch am liebsten in einem Rutsch durchgehört?

Given that the audiobook is over 20 hours long, I can't quite imagine listening to it at one sitting, even at 2.0x speed.

Was wäre für andere Hörer sonst noch hilfreich zu wissen, um das Hörbuch richtig einschätzen zu können?

This is a biography, not an overview of Marx's works. While there is significant discussion of the works, the focus is on his life, not on major issues of interpretation. If you're primarily interested in the philosophical issues in Marx's work, other works might provide a better overview.