Thursday, May 11, 2017

Milan Kundera's "The Joke": Audiobook Review

"It's not funny anymore"
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
My mind wandered a lot. I can see why as the Author's Afterword complains the earlier translations (#1-4) edited and streamlined the original. Despite Kundera's protests, it needed revision. It's far too sprawling and disjointed. It turned tedious early on and rarely engaged.

What do you think your next listen will be?
I am taking on a revisit to Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" as a reminder of quality literary fiction.

Did Richmond Hoxie do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?
He tried. He has an avuncular style similar to George Guidall. But for the females, he could not modulate his delivery much. For the protagonist, he sounded too boorish and gruff.

Was The Joke worth the listening time?
A toss-up. While it did give you an insight into Moravian folkways and music, it lacked the detailed impact of, say, how working in a mine would feel for one sentenced to a "black insignia" unarmed contingent of politically suspect comrades in early 1960s Czechoslovakia,

Any additional comments?
This confirms my unease with Milan Kundera's work. While "The Joke" by some is considered a debut (1965-7) second only to "Unforgettable Lightness of Being," I am annoyed by his seemingly slapdash manner of plot. Yes, he weighs in with the philosophical musings early in his career, but this novel frankly merited at least some of the excisions he predictably decries. The 7-part structure is promising but the results are verbose and dull. 

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