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This is one of those special books, a book rejected by dozens of publishers, a book that led its author to suicide, a book that might bring you to tears (of joy) in the end. It is a character study of an almost middle aged man, still living with his mother, who's just about ready to get a job in an elaborately quirky 1970's New Orleans, told with all the sophistication an over-educated author could muster. It's a really funny piece of fiction that just so happens to be intertwined with real life tragedy.
There are several different versions of this spoken book. None of them compares to the Barrett Whitener reading. Whitener interprets the sounds of the literal dialects seemingly with ease. And this makes the book a million times more enjoyable to listen to. Audible has taken some time to offer this particular reading on its website, several years in fact. But the quality of this recording makes the wait worth while.
149 of 154 people found this review helpful
Reading the reviews, it's obvious that not everyone gets satire. That's not a measure of intelligence, it's just like rolling your Rs--some people can, and some people can't.
This is satire. It's not funny like Jim Carey or Robin Williams or Howard Stern. It's funny like Stephen Colbert (without the political bent). You have to implicitly grasp that the characters, even the narrative, are saying one thing while meaning another.
The story is about a series of characters in New Orleans in the 60s, who are all affected by the main character, Ignatius J Reilly, and his ridiculous delusional arrogance. There seems to be little point or direction through most of the novel. Few if any of the characters are constantly endearing, and you find yourself wondering if they are aggressors, or victims, or ultimately whether there is any such thing as either. But down to the last line, the story has heart and meaning.
Throughout the main narrative you are constantly aware of minor themes accompanying the main story, some in rhythm, some following their own beat, but all connected. You will read one scene and understand, without the author mentioning it, how that scene affects everything else. It's a breathtaking example of novel writing.
And the narrator is perfect. He catches every nuance.
If you are looking for slapstick or straightforward humor, this book won't be for you. If you love satire, this is one of the best examples you'll find.
80 of 84 people found this review helpful