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This is a great narrative of medical anthropology. So my comments for people considering it aren't about the content of the book, but about the production quality of the audiobook. The narrator mispronounces truly basic English words so often that I was both amazed and distracted. Any right minded producer should have corrected these mistakes. I applaud this reader for her Hmong pronunciations, but the tone and pace of the rest of the text is pretty weird. I still recommend it, but you should know that going in.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I have to echo the complaints of other listeners: the mispronunciations in this audiobook and little girl-ish voice of the narrator makes this listenable only by someone intent on appreciating Anne Fadiman's writing and perspective. As a story of culture clash, the book works very well--Fadiman is constantly open to the possibility of there being two different, conflicting, and yet equally valid interpretation of any situation, and she is a champion of sympathy and understanding no matter how challenging the individual or culture.
Pamela Xiong, on the other hand, not only struggles with the occasional unfamiliar word but outright butchers common ones: VAGGrunt (vagrant); indicked (indict); Wash-and-Dreeze (Wash 'n' Dris). Her attempts at dramatic emphasis come off silly and strident. Her male voices of authority are a parody of a woman attempting to imitate a man. The whole performance is just cringeworthy. It's amazing that no one has the sense to stop the production after 30 minutes of recording and hire another reader. Such a shame to see a fine book treated so poorly.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down?
This is a fascinating and well written story giving the reader a unique view of a community, its culture and the difficulties of being an immigrant.
The author paints a sympathetic, moving and compelling picture of the people and their circumstances.
Who was your favorite character and why?
No specific character was my favourite
How did the narrator detract from the book?
I found the narrator's voice annoying. Her attempt to represent the Mhong Chinese by using a Chinese accent was condescending. I was surprised and disappointed at the number of words she mispronounced. Some examples:
She pronounced "indigent patients" as "indignant patients". Every time she came across the plural possessive form, such as "Patients' concerns", she pronounced it as though it has an "es" on the end "Patientses concerns". Acolytes became "acolytees", arduous became "orderus". prevalence became "pre-vale-ence". I have many more examples.
The quality of the narration does not do justice to this interesting and moving book.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Both. Very moving.
Any additional comments?
I have recommended this book to everyone I know. However I have told them to buy the paper copy, not this audiobook. I can't say strongly enough how badly the narration has let the author down.