I had to read this book as part of my course when I was in school and although I definitely think the experience has painted a negative image of this book for me I don't think it is simply the bias speaking when I say that this is a bad book. It was apparently worthy of a movie tie-in but I really don't see why.
The story is of a man who is on his way back home to the Appalachian mountains after the American Civil War and the things he goes through along the way. It really paints a picture of America at that time as being a very cold and lawless place which, straight after the Civil War, it probably was. He meets many people along the way both good and bad and encounters rape, murder and pillaging. The book is written in such a boring style however and the characterisation, which switches between the main character and a woman called Ada every other chapter, is so lacklustre that it's almost a chore to carry on reading it.
I wouldn't really recommend this book to others but it's on the required reading lists of a few schools such as mine so maybe having to read, analyse and answer questions over the minutae of the happenings has ruined it for me. Then again I've recovered from being forced to read Shakespeare at school and I like it now, so maybe not.
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Much has been made of the story's homage to The Odyssey, the origins of which are found in an oral tradition. One can't help but hear echoes of Homer when listening to Frazier's soft, deliberate voice give life to his lyrical writing and to his understated, yet convincing rendering of the overwhelming events of war. Both Frazier's prose and reading are leisurely, recalling a slow foot pace. His delivery is uniquely suited to Innman's arduous, adventure-filled walk toward home and to the possibility of a reunion with Ada, the woman he loves. The author's reading does equal justice to Ada, who is being transformed by her struggle for survival on her father's farm. There is precious little dialogue, and Frazier makes no effort at acting out the characters.
One small irritation in the production is a beeping noise at the end of each side. Another minor complaint is that the tapes don't have individual boxes, which was perhaps an attempt to make the overall package appear more booklike. The recording does, however, make deft use of two brief musical interludes. In a subtle twist, the fiddle music that opens the first cassette, when repeated as an ...