10:30 am Aug. 15, 2012
The tenth and final of our 10 recommendations for audiobooks for the summer, brought to you by our partner, Audible.com.
Audible.com is promoting a special offer to download one our selections or a selection of your own for free, plus a free 30-day trial membership.
Click the link at the bottom of this post for details. Previously: A Visit From the Goon Squad.
The Marriage Plot
By Jeffrey Eugenides
Narrated by David Pittu
Sometimes we've recommended audiobooks because they're good in the car, or good for kids, or have a great reader, or are relaxing. But here's a recommendation that comes almost entirely from the pure quality of the book. Back when The Marriage Plot came out last fall, we reported on a reading that the author, Jeffrey Eugenides, gave in Brooklyn to promote the book:
The Marriage Plot is enough of an event to have caused an actual billboard in Times Square. Its plot was deemed worthy of dissection in a big New York Magazine article that probed the literary friendships of Eugenides' early writing years for answers. Critics are raving, deeming his book about books “dazzling” (Kirkus Reviews) and “immensely readable,” (The Daily Telegraph.) Michiko Kakutani declared in the Times that he was "more adept" than J.D. Salinger in "channeling teenage angst." (Slightly dismissive, that, as you read on.) Many have compared his latest work to the late David Foster Wallace, which is a brave compliment considering Wallace’s hyperloyal fan base, and also confusing since there is so much speculation that Wallace forms the basis of one of the novel's protagonists.
The book is part intellectual game, set as it is amid the literary-critical conflagrations in the university setting of the 1980s, which serve both to anchor the plot and guide the themes. But it's also a real novel of relationships, and of growing up, and asking what can be expected of life. Euegenides takes about a decade to write his full-length novels, and the depth and complexity of them, made to look rather effortless and pleasurable to read, is why he will be among his generations most important, if not its most prolific, writers.
Broadway veteran David Pittu brings unpretentious but perfect diction to the role of reader. Some of the voice differentiation verges on hammy, but not enough to distract; it's much as you would like to hear it yourself in your mind's ear.