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Publisher's Summary

Author of 27 novels, Joyce Carol Oates has won a National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Readers around the world marvel at her ability to trace the subtle dynamics at work in the modern American family.
Judd is the youngest of the four Mulvaney children - three boys and a girl - on their parents’ lush farm in upstate New York. In his childhood, Judd is swept along by the sheer energy of the Mulvaneys and their wealth of beloved family stories. But now, 30 years old, Judd looks back through his memories to tell the secrets that eventually ripped apart the fabric of his storybook family.
Reminiscent of the works of Jane Smiley and Anne Tyler, Oates’ novel tells a tale that could be tragic, but is, instead, a ringing affirmation. Narrator Scott Shina’s performance perfectly captures the complex relationships within the Mulvaney clan.
©1996 The Ontario Review, Inc. (P)2001 Recorded Books, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jason on 10-26-12

Overlooked Masterpiece

Mulvaneys deserves more attention and prominence in Oates' oeuvre. It didn't receive a National Book Award (like here 1969 work, them) or a Pulitzer nomination (like Black Water, What I Lived For, and Blonde). It's notoriety came from selection by the Oprah book club and a movie adaptation.

But Mulvaneys is excellent! Oates crafts perceptibly realistic characters, who are as emotionally complicated and psychologically baffling as any real human being. The novel also interestingly forays into religious and epistemological issues; in fact, Oates depicts the religious Maryanne heroically, though she cannot defend her faith against her brother's deep-seeded naturalism.

Oates impinges stirring literary conceits upon this simple story, which she admits is indebted to Shakespeare’s King Lear. The narration, generally linear, features vivid flashbacks. The structure works compellingly well, as the flashbacks provide foil for the proceedings of the novel.

The narration is quite good with one exception. Shina often hints at a rural Southern accent, but the work is set in rural upstate New York. This was distracting through the first third of the audiobook.

Otherwise, it's a great listen!

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13 of 15 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By amazon customer on 11-30-15

Performance Reservations

With all due respect to the difficulty of narration, and while Mr. Shins is clearly a professional, the performance completely misses the voice of place critical to this story. He should have been coached to speak the dialog closer to a Central New York accent and speech pattern. Too often rural voices are spoken in a totally generic southern drawl. I can assure you this voice would be completely foreign in the Chautaqua Valley, where speech is much flatter, closer to French Canadian. I couldn't take it and decided to read the book instead. If you're not as familiar with CNY, or not as picky, it may not bother you at all. The story is very true in spirit to the place and time, as Oates understands this community in her bones.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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