Monday, April 23, 2007

Felled by audio

I had every intention of posting a review of this fabulous book to the right today. It's going to have to wait until tomorrow, however, as not just one, but two audio books had me glued to the ipod.

First up was John Banville's Christine Falls. This is a mystery he wrote under the pen name Benjamin Black. I loved Banville's The Sea, which won the 2005 Man Booker Prize. Loved it. But I have to say that Christine Falls--a mystery, no less--may have even been better. Hands down, Banville's use of POV in Christine Falls was the most skillful I've seen in years. It's a slow read (or listen), because it's fairly dense, but immensely rewarding.

Next up was Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. I purchased this one before the Virginia Tech atrocities, so was reluctant to read another school shooting novel. gripped me from the first moment. Unlike Christine Falls, in which multiple POVs conflict and contradict one another, there is only one point of view in We Need to Talk About Kevin. A one-sided epistolary novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin is compelling from start to finish. And, there's a reason almost every critic used the world "unflinching" in regards to this novel. Narrator Eva is not perfect--she's arrogant, yet critical of herself. She's impatient, yet tries as best she can as a mother. She's almost a genetic copy of her son, but can barely tolerate him from birth. 15 hours and I listened to it all--including the interview at the end. ** And, while I had imagined the ending as one of possible outcomes, it didn't bother me in the least.

Tomorrow I'll be back, I promise. I lost a day to stories.

**I will mention here that the audio of We Need to Talk About Kevin was, in some ways, a trial. I could hear the narrator's every swallow, every intake of breath, every drink of water. The narrator herself was quite good, but the editing, obviously, left something to be desired. Read this one instead if extraneous noises between sentences bother you :)