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I really liked the first two essays read by the author and felt the book was read poorly by the reader that followed. This was not the case with Franzen's other books of essays which included essays read both by the author and a reader but where the combination was not so mismatched.
The second reader of FARTHER AWAY does not have a voice suited for a literary text. His voice sounds like Rod Serling or some cowboy story narrator, not like an author of serious reflective essays about literature. He sounds like the Marlboro Man. He reads too fast and without knowledge, including how to pronounce the names of other authors correctly. His words can be understood but the pace is so 'off' one essay sometimes ends and a new one is begun without him even pausing for a breath. You just suddenly realize the topic has changed.
That said, I enjoyed the essays themselves enough to purchase a hard copy of the book so that I could read it at my own pace and reread things that needed my own reflection. But I would not have needed to do that if the second reader had been more appropriately chosen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I am a fan of Franzen's fiction, but this book of essays wasn't really for me. I wish there was an abridged version that was full of the main ideas that were found in quotes and passages. But his nonfiction stories and reviews were not nearly as enjoyable as his fictional prose.