2015 Simon Schuster Audio
Read by the author
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)
Traveling from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Baker City, Oregon, over the course of four months, Buck is accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and a Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, they dodge thunderstorms in Nebraska, chase runaway mules across the Wyoming plains, cross the Rockies, and make desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water. The Buck brothers repair so many broken wheels and axles that they nearly reinvent the art of wagon travel itself. They also must reckon with the ghost of their father, an eccentric yet loveable dreamer whose memory inspired their journey across the plains and whose premature death, many years earlier, has haunted them both ever since.
The Oregon Trail is a majestic, uniquely American journey of a lifetime.
I was really looking forward to reading this book, which my book group selected for our May discussion. I bought the paperback, but when my husband showed an interest in also reading it, I decided to download the audio and go that route. What a mistake! Rinker Buck (or the publisher) should have hired someone else to read this book. Buck's halting narration is not only jarring, but extremely annoying and I was tempted to return to the print edition, although I don't know if that would have made a difference in my overall opinion of this narrative. It is far too long-winded, with multiple digressions, and I was happy when I finally finished. (Remember the whale chapter in Moby Dick? Well, I now know more about mules than I ever cared to know!) I could have also done with out the negative commentary about all RVers, the numerous accounts of Buck's childhood and strained relationship with his father, and the overabundant use of F-bombs (which are easily ignored in print, but not so much on audio). I wanted more about the adventures the two brothers experienced on the trail. Sadly, Buck Rinker had a great story to share, but he is not a great storyteller.
Oh wow, too bad Les. The majority of author's who read their own books don't do it well IMO. Trevor Noah, Born a Crime, David Sedaris and Bill Bryson are the exceptions though.ReplyDelete
Diane, my husband really enjoyed this book and from what I've seen on Goodreads, readers either loved it or hated it. I'm not sure my opinion would have changed had I read the print edition.Delete
Well, your comment about knowing more about mules than you ever cared to know made me laugh. I'll give this one a miss, but not simply for the mules.ReplyDelete
Jenclair, I'm anxious to hear what the members in my book group have to say about the book later today!Delete
Sorry you didn't enjoy this more, Les. I remember having a very hard time initially with the audio, but finally settled in and enjoyed it... even learning about the mules, lol! Made me want to travel along the Oregon Trail, too. By car ;-)ReplyDelete
JoAnn, everyone in my book group loved the book, so I'm the outlier. I probably should have stuck with the print copy, but I think what I really wanted was more of a travelogue rather than a history lesson. Oh, well. It would be fun to travel the trail by car, though!Delete
This is an easy one for me to skip. Bummer that it was so disappointing.ReplyDelete
Iliana, my husband enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn't for me.Delete
This one just doesn't sound like it's successful. Lengthy descriptions of mules are just not going to do it for me.ReplyDelete
Helen, although my husband thought it was very good, it fell short for me. I wanted more detail about their actual adventure across the trail rather than a history of mules, wagons, wagon wheels, Mormons, etc.Delete
Ohh too bad. I had high hopes for this one being interesting but it sounds like the execution failed. Still I remain curious about the Oregon trail ... but maybe another story.ReplyDelete
Susan, the print copy might make for a more enjoyable reading experience. Maybe borrow it from the library?Delete