BOOK REVIEW: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
A lot of people have seen Jack Nicholson's performance in this movie, one of his best, but not a lot of people are as familiar with the book which is a shame. The changes they made for the movie are very important and the book has quite a lot more to say, as usual. In the movie, McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is the main character, the story revolves around him. In the book, the main character and narrator is the Chief who everyone thinks is deaf and mute so they let him get up close to their conversations, a very effective narrative technique. McMurphy is still the protagonist of the book, but you learn a lot about the Chief as well and he's definately now one of my favorite literary characters because of the added detail. One of my favorite parts of the book is how much more sympathetic of a character McMurphy is. It's been a while since I've seen the movie but the book-McMurphy really seems to care a lot about his fellow inmates, something I don't remember from the movie. It's rare for a tough-guy character to be given any emotion but Kesey did a really great job with him in the book. If you liked the movie, you owe it to yourself to read the book (or listen to it as I did, read on for more on that).

The first audiobook I listened to was Jonathan Franzen's How to be Alone, a collection of his essays from various magazines. I got it free for subscribing to Salon.com (along with 3 magazine subscriptions and a book, a hell of a deal). I had no idea what to expect but I ended up loving the experience of listening to that book. In listening to a couple of other audiobooks, I've found that the person reading the book makes all the difference. I listened to Life of Pi and I couldn't imagine reading the book after listening to the actor they had read it. I don't know if he was Indian or not but he did a perfect accent that I couldn't have replicated in my mind if I tried. It was a whole different experience and one I really enjoyed. I was sad when the book was over, not just because it was an amazing book but that I wouldn't be listening to Pi speak any more. I really recommend listening to Life of Pi if you haven't already read it. I felt almost the same way with Cuckoo's Nest. The actor reading the book did an amazing job. Without overdoing the voices like some actors do, I could really tell the difference between all the characters just by how he performed each person. He didn't even have to resort to the standard high-pitched women's voices that some actors do to make the women stand out. I was very impressed.

What made me realize just how important the actor is to the audiobook experience is the new one I'm listening to, The Da Vinci Code. I would never had read this book if they hadn't had it face-out on the shelf at Hastings to rent (only $2 a week!). The writing on the book isn't particularly good (The first cringe inducing moment was when the bad guy said "My work here is done" after shooting someone. Yikes.) but I probably wouldn't mind that if the actor doing the voices wasn't so over-the-top with the characters. The book, so far at least, is set in France so everyone speaks in 'zee stan-dard French, ac-cent' and he does the high-pitched women's voices so combined it's a bit grating. I'll finish it and have a more full review later but now I can see why it's become popular but I'm not a big fan. I hope once the real action starts that it'll get better.