Audio Audit- American Music

American Music by Jane Mendelsohn

I’ve been in a bit of a “chick-lit” mood lately.  Not so much with what I’m reading, but what I’m listening to.  I need something that I can walk in and out of while I’m busying myself with all my projects.  (After all, the ability to multitask is why I rock the audiobook.) Alas, this book doesn’t really fall into that category.  I found myself sitting, pencil, pen, paintbrush in hand, staring into space, (going back to replay pieces numerous times) visualizing the characters and the settings in this inventive little novel.

I find it hard to really describe the book without making it sound fully ridiculous.  Projected images, four interwoven stories of love and betrayal is as far as I’ll go, but if you want to check out a more detailed plot summary check out Elle’s review or the one from The New York Times.  I will say that the characters are substantial and unfeigned and the layered unfolding and interweaving of the narrative makes you hate to press pause.  There is one projection that for the majority of the book seems disjointed from the others, which was a bit distracting.  I kept assuming I missed something that made that particular segment fit with the others.  In fact, it doesn’t fall into place until later in the book which is a critique I found in other reviews as well.

My biggest critique isn’t actually with the book itself, however. It was about format…listening to this was good, but something tells me that actually reading it would teeter closer to greatness. We have a copy of the hardcover at the store that I took a moment to peruse after listening to this audio.  Portions of the actual printed text of the book carries a poetic, almost hectic style that I’m such a sucker for.  Sentence fragments and a complete omittance of punctuation has you reading wildly, almost out of control.  You’re a part of the story.  You feel the music: the swing, the horns, and the rhythm. It’s a lot more powerful when you control the tone and pace of the story.

I enjoyed this novel but would highly recommend picking it up in it’s original typeset, spine/cover/pages physicality as opposed to taking it in audibly. You’ll enjoy it either way, but it’s a much richer portrait when you actually get to gaze upon it.

With that, I’d like to leave you swingin’ to a pivotal figure in the book, Count Basie


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