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This is not a perfect rendition of The Recognitions. All of the narration annoys when dialogue is absent- the actor sounds as though he is trying out for the Smart Ass's Encyclopedia. However, he plays all of the characters very distinctly and very respectably, and that is saying a lot as these are difficult, varied, and plentiful characters. The production is really 4 stars, but the book itself is a 5, and so great that I am giving the whole a 5 in the hopes you will read it. A lot of brilliant ideas float through "God cares as much for a moment as for an hour", "Do you think your Dutch masters never made bad pictures just because we have a few masterpieces passed down to us?", "How can I write a novel when I only know boys? Easy, I'll just do what Proust did and change half the boys names to girls", and so forth. Gaddiss perhaps more than any author is strengthened in the audiobook form because he writes in a stream of consciousness or a stream of reality where snippets of conversation come to you as if you were just sitting on the street, or walking through the novel. Don't dare try this book if you need very linear progression with distinct chapters and chronology like it was 7:45 am on October... and it was raining outside with a temperature of... you won't get any of that. One character asks another "Don't you ever wear a coat?" And that tells you it is winter now in this scene. No hero emerges either, though you expect it and wait for it. The novel feels drawn out near the end and is by no means perfect, but quite great and brilliant. Sadly overlooked, as was Gaddiss, though he fell to pure satire and snarkiness after this one book. For further reading see the Clementine Recognitions, The Golden Bough, and any other apocrophal early church writings. JR is much funnier but less rewarding and narrower in its reach.
27 of 29 people found this review helpful
Gaddis is not easy and it is not surprising that some readers/listeners do not find his work worth the effort. For readers, like me, who do, there is simply nothing to match the richness and depth of Gaddis' novel(s). If you enjoyed David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" or, e.g., James Joyce's "Ulysses", neither of which is easy but both of which offer a great deal of pleasure to those whose tastes lean in this direction, you will like "The Recognitions."
17 of 18 people found this review helpful