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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

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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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  • B
  • 2021-01-15

classic "au passé"

I wanted to listen to this book because it's a classic, and for it's Montreal nostalgia. My expectations were not very high, just hoping for some light entertainment here. I gave this book a chance all the way to the end of Chapter 10, but I give up. It's shallow, sexist , unecessarily violent and makes you huff "loser" too many times. The narrator reads à la Stewart McLean, with a tinge of arrogance in his voice and cannot pronounce french words and french names, which is irritating.

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Kind of boring

Yes I know Mordecai Richler is a Canadian treasure and who am I to not like it!! It was boring. The only other Mordecai Richler I have read was the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which I enjoyed. This is the memoirs of Barney Penofsky. I guess it captures the voice correctly. It is quite boring but then again maybe that is the point? If you were rambling over the end of your life would most people find your life boring? The protagonist is quite boring. All characters are Jews, which is neither here nor there, but all of them are portrayed as judgmental, wildly racist and having massive inferiority complexes. I could see one, two or a few characters being this way but all of them are. The subtext is that all Jews are this way, which doesn't foot with the Jewish people I know, but then again none of the ones I know are from Montreal. Since this is supposed to be one man's remembrances, there again, maybe that view is how he sees the people he knew. I guess where I am going with this is that maybe all the colouring that seems wrong to me makes sense in the context of the point of view of the narrator. But even if I accept that, it just moved very slow. It was filled with all the things that I could see as the CBC can lit checklist which kind of made it extra irritating.

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Close, but no cigar!

I loved this book, and the reader's performance was superb. My one complaint is that his yiddish/hebrew needs work (the French is forgivable since it makes sense with the character). The poor pronunciation reads as someone who isn't Jewish playing a distinctly Jewish character who would absolutely know how to pronounce those words easily, since they're common lingo and phrases within the community.

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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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  • 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