Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Frank Norris' "McTeague": Audiobook Review


"Melodrama from old San Francisco"
What did you like best about McTeague (Dramatized)? What did you like least?
I liked the melodramatic flourishes of McTeague and his fellow rogues. The naturalism of Frank Norris a century-plus ago comes off very strong here, and the narrative feels very dated. That is its strength, as it captures the down and outs of S.F. well, but it's repetitious and heavy-handed.

Would you recommend McTeague (Dramatized) to your friends? Why or why not?
It's probably more entertaining to hear the novel dramatized by an enthusiastic cast. But you need patience, for at eleven-plus hours the plot goes on and on, wearing out its welcome.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I liked the L.A. Theatre Works' "Babbitt," done in similar form by a cast of (as of the late 1980s) respected actors. Sinclair Lewis' was a bit more skilled at narrative than Frank Norris, but the social message type of novel both men favored is suitable for such radio ensembles.

Was McTeague (Dramatized) worth the listening time?
It was fun, as I chose it for a drive across the California desert. Let's just say it remains in The City for most of its running time, as I cannot give away any plot spoilers. It's a period piece I always meant to read, and hearing it kept me entertained despite repetitious prose.

Any additional comments?
Perhaps this was published as a serial? The novel keeps repeating the same phrases for certain characters, and passages verbatim or near it come again to remind readers of the action or the characters. Still, for all its moustache-twirling menace, it's a reminder of the harsher conditions endured by ordinary men and women in urban California, little romance at all! (Audible US 2/16/17)

No comments: