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This is one of those important novels I would have probably passed over or missed if Sherwood Anderson wasn't mentioned in so many lists--and if so many authors I admire (Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, O'Connor, McCarthy) didn't mention him as an influence or inspiration.
There is something beautiful about every single sentence that Anderson writes. Some of the stories in 'Winesburg, Ohio' (Death, Loneliness, the Strength of God, Godliness, and Adventure) were nearly perfect. Others, while they might not have hit me as hard as those five, were still almost uniformly beautiful and interesting. Like waves beating rhythmically against a wall, Anderson's stories seemed to gently deliver a message from the universe of the grotesque. Ideas of isolation, loneliness, love and the need to reach out to others (to find love or understanding) float from one story to the next and weave the various plots of the twenty-two short stories together. 'Winesburg, Ohio' is a great piece of American fiction and an amazing piece of 2oth century art.
38 of 39 people found this review helpful
Though it may outwardly resemble Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., the rural town of Winesburg, in this famous collection of related short stories, is far from quaint and pastoral; rather, it's a hotbed of thwarted dreams, stifled passions, and suicidal loneliness. Anderson couldn't write explicitly about sex in those days, but it's a central element in many of the lives he examines, most of them tragic. There's so much misery in this community, so many painful or twisted emotions bubbling beneath the proper surface of daily life, that the stories seem at times almost self-parodies. (The style invites parody and has indeed been parodied.)
What sets this audiobook apart is the amazing performance that George Guidall gives. All I can say is that his reading is extremely unusual, extremely mannered, all the more so if you try listening to it, as I did, played at half speed. His delivery is somber and portentous, emphasizing every single word, and every single sentence somehow reads like a death sentence, ending on a somber, despairing note. I don't know how Anderson would have felt about it, but I think it's a brilliant performance that brings out the best in the stories.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful