I’ve done it folks. I have entered the world of audio books. I recently had occasion to be in the car, alone, for roughly ten hours in a single day. It seemed like the perfect time to try out an audio book – and it was. The reason for the travel was sad, and the day was kind of cloudy and dreary, so I knew I had to choose the right book. I downloaded three options from my library’s collection, and settled on The Graduate. It was perfect.
I had seen the 1967 movie starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, of course… but it had been a long time. I had been curious to read the original novel for a long time. It tells the story of Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate who finds himself having an affair with Mrs. Robinson (the wife of his father’s business partner). If that wasn’t complicated enough, Benjamin then falls in love with Elaine Robinson – Mrs. Robinson’s daughter.
The first thing I noticed is that the first part of the novel and the film are very much in concert with each other. I almost expected to hear Simon & Garfunkel playing in the background! One exception is that the novel really helps you get into Benjamin’s mindset more clearly and more quickly. The narrator also helped display this with his vocal performance of Benjamin’s voice. The humor is wonderful, and I found myself laughing out loud more than once. There is more to the book than the movie, at least to my recollection of the movie, and I found myself really annoyed with Elaine when Benjamin goes to Berkeley to find her again. Their conversations seemed like a terrible version of “Who’s On First” that made me really question why Benjamin felt so strongly for her. It became funny to me, and I’m not sure it was meant to be. The ending, however, is perfect.
I very much liked the narrator, Scott Brick. He really did a great job of voicing the different characters, and portraying their personalities through his voice. The female voice he did kind of got to me though. Keep in mind that this was several hours into the drive, and I might have been getting a little punchy at this point – but once I got into my head that his female voices sounded like Alec Baldwin doing a female voice, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it like that. Also, I wonder if I would have noticed how many times the dialogue included the words “He said.” or “She said.” if I wasn’t listening to an audio book.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the audio book experience. I now understand how so many people love it! I will definitely look into doing this again for future road trips. If I had any kind of commute at all, I would also listen to more audio books.
by Charles Webb
Narrated by Scott Brick
Blackstone Audio, 2008. Originally published 1963
approx. 8 hours
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