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Barney's Version

Written by: Mordecai Richler
Narrated by: Graham Abbey
Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (135 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Barney Panofsky - Canadian expat, wily lover of women, writer, television producer, raconteur - is finally putting pen to paper so he can rebut the charges about him made in his rival’s autobiography. Whether it’s ranting about his bohemian misadventures during the 1950s in Paris, his tumultuous three marriages, or his successful trashy TV company, Totally Unnecessary Productions, he quickly proves that his memory may be slipping, but his bile isn’t. But when he’s charged with the murder of his own best friend - caught in bed with the second Mrs. Panofsky - Barney’s version of things might not be enough to keep him out of trouble.

©1997 Mordecai Richler (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Barney's Version

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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No Thanks

I stopped after Chapter 1. Didn't seem like there was much more then the Narrator reading the diary of a grumpy old man. :(

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliant read

Following Barney’s adventures and demise had moments of predictability and stunning surprises. A brilliantly told tale.

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Poor performance mars good story

I enjoyed this story of a colourful, highly flawed, but somewhat likeable man a lot. However, the flow of the story was consistently interrupted by the voice of the narrator. He might do a good job in a different book, but "Barney's Version" 's characters speak with such specific accents and inflections (particularly the Yiddish and the French), that Mr. Abbey's versions kept striking the wrong note. He was not able to capture the accents, the energy or the pronunciations of much of the dialogue. For me, the sign of a good narrator is that you forget that he is there. Mr. Abbey kept intruding.

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Laughed Out Loud

I loved this book; the cantankerous Barney made me laugh out loud. The narrator really did him justice. The only reason i didn't give it 5 stars is because of the terrible pronunciation of French words. Oy.

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entertaining story with great characters

Graham Abbey does a terrific job of reading this entertaining novel with an unreliable narrator.

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Review

much better than the movie, Barney's is incredible sarcastic, bad temper but very carismatic in the novel

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What was that

I got this book for free and even so I feel like they should have paid me to listen. It was horrible, wandering and without any interesting characters or story the entire time. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who needs a little excitement in your story as there is none.

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Suffers from narration

This is the first book by Richler that I have read. I very much enjoyed the story, the writing was excellent, but the lack of distinguishable voices from the narrator made the story harder to follow than it needed to be. I think if the voices were more clearly distinguishable, the story would’ve been more enjoyable. That said, although the story is about a superficially unlikeable character, he does grow on you. I also enjoy stories where the timelines jump back-and-forth, making you wonder what you missed, then going back and filling in the gaps. By the end I liked Barney enough to be sad, and the final reveal was rewarding.

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my first audiobook by this author but not my last

It is so very Canadian. A man looking back upon his life, honestly assessing his own failings. It is a real-life love story, a murder mystery, a character expose. The main character is looking back on his life, his three wives, his children and his mistakes I had some issue with some of the mispronounciations of the narrator, but he created a passionate and believable character.

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  • SJD
  • 2020-07-04

I really tried

I tried three times to get into this reading and just could not. Maybe it is best to write stories about the lives of others. Narrator tries hard to make it interesting.

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  • Peter S. Zaas
  • 2015-07-28

Who proofreads these productions?

This is a novel I know well, and I enjoyed listening to it as an audiobook. But Mr. Abbey's narration is curiously bad. I say "curiously," because his ability to create characterizations--his vocal acting--is among the best I've heard in the many (very many!) books I've heard from Audible. But his pronunciation of non-English words, especially words in Hebrew, Yiddish, and French, but also in German and Latin ("cum laude" is pronounced as two syllables in the 2nd word, "come laow-day") and including a number of relatively familiar names (the last name of the famous Secretary of State was "Dull-uhs" not "Dulls") is just terrible. This is particularly a problem with words from the Jewish tradition in Hebrew and Yiddish, where Mr. Abbey mangles every single synagogue name, every Hebrew phrase, and almost every Yiddish word. Since these words are so important in establishing the central character, and since Mr. Abbey is such a terrific actor, the listener finds himself wondering why Barney Panovsky, the narrator (who is, after all, concerned that he's losing his mind) has suddenly lost the ability to pronounce the words of his own tradition properly! These are really mangled; take the word of this old language teacher, and they harm the experience of listening to the book.

I don't know much about the production of audiobooks, but there is usually a producer listed, and I imagine it's the producer's job to proofread, or proof-listen, or whatever you call it. In a book with a heavy sprinkling of foreign-language words, it's essential to find out how these words are pronounced, and to let your actor/narrator know when he's made an error. If you want help with this, in all of the languages covered by the book, call me. (I'm not looking for work, really, but would like my Audiobooks not to be ruined by sloppy production). Otherwise, please find a way to correct these errors. Audible usually gets this right, but not here.

I look forward to listening to more books read by Mr. Abbey, who has beautiful English diction. But he needs help here!

5 people found this helpful

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  • mbd
  • 2016-02-26

Narration ruins it.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A narrator who actually has heard anyone from Montreal talk and pronounce French names.
Being a Montrealler myself, I winced each time he would try say any Quebec place name or person's name.It was very distracting.

Would you be willing to try another book from Mordecai Richler? Why or why not?

Yes, by a different narrator.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Graham Abbey?

Someone who knows Montreal and knows how it's Jewish community speaks.

Any additional comments?

I'm going to get the paper book version and read it.

1 person found this helpful