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What a fabulous novel, and so well read by Tom Parker. I ended up buying the book as well, to reread some chapters and have the opportunity to ponder the philosophical musings expressed by the various vivid characters in this story. I found myself thinking of Dickens so often as I was listening to and reading this novel--the rich teeming life of a city, the wildly improbable yet wholly believable one-of-a-kind characters, the comic antics, the sorrow, the crazy business of living and trying to find any meaning in it at all. I've been listening to lots of Dickens on Audible, and now I'll add Bellow to my wish list. These are great books to listen to and live with, and think about long after you've read or heard the last word. One line I love from Augie's tale: "I refuse to live a disappointed life."
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
I knew from the first couple paragraphs of this novel that it was fantastic, amazing, like a well-built Italian or German sports car. However, once Bellow jumps into Augie's flight to Mexico with Thea (where they try to to catch Mexican lizards with a wussy eagle) it was equivalent to discovering the sports car you are driving actually has 7 gears and your radio goes to 11. Anyway, this is one of those books where sentences seem likely to escape the gravity of English, the characters are as big as planets, and the plot is as big as Eternity or at least the Universe or at least that part of the Universe visible from Chicago.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful
There are two aspects to this book that are very stark to the modern reader. The first has to include a tribute to its author Saul Bellow's talent for compelling the reader at all times to think. Every paragraph is punctuated with wonderful insights into the human condition.
The second aspect probably only seems obvious to modern eyes with their qualification of contemporary political and social condescension.
For the awful truth is that Augie is not a likable character despite him having been written in that genre that compels the reader to find him somehow agreeable and beguiling. Ditto his family.
To the modern reader however, his needy and selfish materialism never at any stage leads to feelings of remorse or guilt and one is compelled to ask is this actually how men thought before the actuality of feminism and was this at any stage acceptable to men, so demeaning is it by today's standards.
If it were, then as a man, I owe more to the suffragettes and the 1960's feminism than I could have imagined.
But it is a decent enough book for all that despite a few "as if" moments. (It is truly remarkable how often you can bump into people you know on a continent the size of America, and that includes hidden parts of Mexico). The enjoyable parts are Bellow's lyrical flourishes and they certainly abound here.
Samuel Johnson once said of the Giants Causeway on the north coast of Ireland that it was worth seeing but not worth going to see. On making my final assault onto the upper slopes of The Adventures of Augie March I have to say I felt pretty much the same way.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Adventures of Augie March? What did you like least?
Saul Bellow's language is superb. Often a phrase or a sentence was so striking that I would stop my listening and replay it. The reader is excellent but the story is so rambling and filled with so many characters that it was hard to keep up interest.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Augie's childhood and early years were really captivating. His numerous love affairs were so self indulgent that it was hard to be interested and the Mexico sequence seemed endless.
What does Tom Parker bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Tom Parker is an excellent reader. He did his best to breath life into the characters. I'm sure even he must have been fed up with Augie towards the end of the book but it never showed.
Was The Adventures of Augie March worth the listening time?
No. I persevered because of the language and the reader but kept looking at how much time was left ....wishing it was shorter!
Any additional comments?
I feel this book would work better being read (at least you could check back more easily on who was who!) It is a remarkable novel but doesn't really work as an audiobook.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful