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This is sort-of a compliment. I suffer from bouts of insomnia, and have found that putting on an audiobook to occupy my brain is a great way to get back to sleep at 4 in the morning. It's also a great way to listen to a book without any of the distractions of the outside world, and really listen to the writing.
This only becomes problematic when a story becomes engaging (for instance, I initially started listening to Little Dorrit to put myself back to sleep, but at some point became so interested in the story that I would wake up and rewind back to hear what I'd slept through.)
So far, I have found In Sunlight and in Shadow is a perfect book to fall back to sleep to. The writing is dreamlike, lyrical and descriptive, the plot pacing so slow and the narration so generally monotone (there's nothing worse then when a male narrator badly imitates a woman's voice -- the pitch change can shock you back awake) that this is perfect insomnia listening. I fell asleep to it one night, and dreamt I was in New York.
My only issue with it is that by day, my waking brain cannot stay with it. I listened to a description of Catherine taking a breath in a music hall about 3 times and spaced out every time before I figured out what she was actually doing there. I honestly thought she was an oboe player. I had to read a review to learn that she was a singer.
To do this book justice, I think I'll go back to listening to it only at 4 am, and find something a little more engaging to listen to by day.
PS - A great thing about the Audible app on the iphone, is that you can program it to go off - and it sort of fades out very subtly. This is especially recommended when you are nearing the end of a book. The last thing you need at 4:45 am is to be jolted back awake with: "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program!"
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
I am still struggling through this recording, but have decided to switch to the written book. I've come to the conclusion that the narrator must have substantially missed the tone the author was going for.
Helprin is the author of one of my favorite books of all time - Freddy and Fredericka - which I have listened to at least three times. The narrator of that one, Robert Ian Mackenzie, gets it exactly right. No doubt In Sunlight and In Shadow is a different kind of book, but I can't help but feel there are moments of irony that are completely miscast in Runnette's sing-song melancholy tone.
I'm going to have a try at the printed work because I think Helprin is trying to do something that needs doing. I
think he is trying to cast a line from World War II to the present and show the seeds that have brought us where we are today - the difference between paper wealth and real productivity, and between image and identity. He's up to the challenge. I'm reserving judgment on whether he's accomplished it or not.
This is one of the few occasions that I've felt a narrator truly compromised my experience of a book. Too bad. Runnette has a nice voice, but he takes elegiac to a new high (or low) here.
12 of 13 people found this review helpful