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    Description

    Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It's a small town in the center of the state - the first a in Nevada pronounced ay. This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon. It's good enough for Jeremy: It's a job, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.

    But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets - an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store - she has an odd complaint: "There's something on it," she says, but doesn't elaborate. Two days later a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it's not defective, exactly, but altered: "There's another movie on this tape."

    Jeremy doesn't want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment, and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation - the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing - but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town.

    So begins John Darnielle's haunting and masterfully unsettling Universal Harvester: the once placid Iowa fields and farmhouses now sinister and imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. The audiobook will take Jeremy and those around him deeper into this landscape than they have ever expected to go. They will become part of a story that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.

    Engineered by Matt Douglas
    Music by Buttonwood Agreement
    John Darnielle - piano, guitar
    Joaquin Spengemann - drums and percussion
    Additional synth by John Vanderslice
    Music produced by John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone, San Francisco
    Additional mixing and postproduction by Tim Franklin

    ©2017 John Darnielle (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

    Commentaires

    "Darnielle's understated narration is a perfect match for the quiet story. His restrained delivery highlights the steady Midwestern attitude of his characters, making the story's pensive strangeness that much more unsettling." ( AudioFile)

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    Notations

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    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
    • Interprétation
      5 out of 5 stars
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    Image de profile pour Toadguy
    • Toadguy
    • 10/04/2017

    Genius.

    I love John Darnielle's music and also Wolf in White Van, but this his masterpiece.
    The blend of unsettling suspense and powerful humanity make this story unique and unforgettable, and John's narrative is intimate and quietly expressive.

    5 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
    Image de profile pour Toni
    • Toni
    • 22/02/2017

    A beautiful look at grief

    If you could sum up Universal Harvester in three words, what would they be?

    Melancholy on VHS

    What did you like best about this story?

    Very beautiful, ambitious concept within a reasonable, grounded world. Has a Twin Peaks strangeness about it, but sums up very clearly by the end.

    What does John Darnielle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Darnielle has a soft, expressive voice which definitely adds to the melancholic vibe.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Introspective and sad at some points; definitely an emotional ride.

    Any additional comments?

    One of my favorite books I've read (listened to) in a very long time.

    4 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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      4 out of 5 stars
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      4 out of 5 stars
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    • Amazon Customer
    • 11/02/2017

    poignant story about grief

    This is a haunting story about the personal nature of grief. It shows the uncomfortable feeling people get when they get too close to a traumatic event. the story assembles several different stories of loss and coping, and the result makes the reader or listener feel uncomfortable. The story pushes our comfort zone a little.

    at first I felt the story was fast and gripping but then it slowed down, took unexpected turns. I liked the detours themselves, but wondered how it would connect to the larger thread. It pulled through. Better still, between the larger theme and offhand comments, I found myself thinking I thought the same thing as the narrator. Simply, I had a feeling about an aspect of life and the narrator said the same thing. that's how this book impressed me.

    I'll definitely read the lyrics of the mountain goats more (the lyricist is the author). I might even read his first book. i can't recommend Universal Harvester enough.

    9 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

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      2 out of 5 stars
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      4 out of 5 stars
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    • laurie
    • 10/02/2017

    Underwhelming

    This story is not a thriller. It's a stylized observation of midwestern life in the 90s. Though well written, the story lacks substance....you spend most of your time waiting for a payoff, but are left with few answers.
    I was extremely disappointed with the story and felt that this books only redeeming qualities were the descriptive writing and the performance by the reader.

    14 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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    • Shelby
    • 11/02/2017

    A story of loss beneath an eerie mystery

    As a long time fan of Darnielle I couldn't wait to pick up this book. I purchased the audio version and just as I expected the performance was exceptional. His voice is perfect for the strange, intriguing, and sad plot of the book, and really draws you into the characters. This book, while I wouldn't categorize as horror, is definatly creepy at times. It keeps your mind on the edge of letting it wonder to what could actually going on, allowing you to dream up the worse and most gruesome scenario while not actually taking you to that place of "horror". Loss is a huge part of this story. I've never lost someone close to me, I've known people who have died but the book really showed me a perspective of loosing a loved one that I never thought about. It made me rethink a lot of stuff in my life, for the better I think. The pacing of the book is a little strange after part 1. During particular parts the scenes change very quickly with little indication other than saying the name of a characters. It often caught me off guard and I had to rewind a bit just to make sure I wasn't getting things confused. At the same time the way the story changes quickly and unexpectedly to reveal different details about what's going on was like finding puzzle pieces all over the ground, and as the story goes on you see more and more pieces that fit together until you have the full picture at the end. The finished picture is sobering.

    3 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      5 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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    • Felipe DL
    • 10/05/2017

    Another quiet masterpiece, my favorite new author

    Always warm, always poignant but hopeful, always earthy but playful at the same time, Darnielle again shows he's a masterful storyteller, in a performance that transcends written word and gives a whole dimension to each phrase and pause.

    I'm already thinking about listening to it again. Simply put, this is deep enough to warrant more listens.

    I want him to write more novels and being able to listen to him reading it is a miracle.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      1 out of 5 stars
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    • Holly
    • 23/04/2017

    Boring, Confusing, Depressing...

    This book alternated between being boring and confusing....and then once the storyline was clarified (sort of) was just downright depressing. To me the author spent way too much effort trying to come up with literary prose to portray vivid images and not nearly enough on developing a storyline and characters that made sense and you cared about. Don't waste your money/Audible credit on this one.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      4 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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      3 out of 5 stars
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    • Morgan Blair
    • 15/02/2017

    Interesting but confusing

    This was an interesting book, but at the end of the book I felt I had been hoodwinked somewhat by the "twist". I guess this "mystery" could have been so much more if there had been a soprano's style fade to black ending. Narrator/Author was great, but the pacing of the book as well as the bouncing narratives really made it quite hard to follow.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      4 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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    Image de profile pour K. Saunders
    • K. Saunders
    • 13/06/2019

    Beautiful and strange.

    First, I think John Darnielle's narration makes the experience. He has a beautiful voice, and you feel that you're hearing the book the way he meant to write it. That isn't always the case. I also love the musical interludes.

    The story itself is at times beautiful, and others frightening. For me, it was also very depressing. I listened to it almost non-stop the first time, and it left me feeling very off. A second listen a year later in different life circumstances, and the effect is the same. While I'm not sorry to have listened, I rarely have a response like this. It might seem like a strange thing to share, but that is my strongest impression.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    • Global
      4 out of 5 stars
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      4 out of 5 stars
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    • Golanka
    • 18/01/2018

    Intruguing--About Location As Much As Anything

    Much of this reads as a mystery, but I was more struck by the characters and how they were inextricably part of the environment. The book is probably more about specific locations--small rural towns--than anything else.

    Darnielle's writing is precise, evocative, and, at times beautiful. His phrasing is sometimes blunt but always effective. Speaking of location, this line felt like it illuminated one of the main themes:

    People have expectations of a field: what one ought to be like, how it ought to feel.

    While Darnielle's writing is great, and his voice has the right sound for the characters in his novel, he tends to slur his words a bit--at times the narration sounded like he was sucking on a hard candy while narrating.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

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    • Global
      4 out of 5 stars
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      5 out of 5 stars
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      3 out of 5 stars
    Image de profile pour Renie Sulaweyo
    • Renie Sulaweyo
    • 29/08/2020

    Mixed feelings

    I love the Mountain Goats and I love listening to John Darnielle. I like his style of writing and I also like his style of narration, it's very soothing for me. This book isn't as captivating as Wolf in White Van, but I still enjoyed it. I could see why someone who isn't a fan of John and his work in the first place might not like it though.

    • Global
      1 out of 5 stars
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    • Will Gordon
    • 04/12/2017

    Beware of the very misleading description

    John Darnielle does a halfway decent job narrating his novel. But since he wrote this he should be able to narrate it properly. And since the performance is in no way outstanding three stars seem fair for that part of this review.
    But this review is about the content, not so much the presentation. So let us dive in!

    The description makes this book seem like some kind of horror novel, but it turns out to be some slow, boring and incoherent mess.
    The book (you just cannot call it a story) starts just as the description states, so far, so good. After a whole while, and therefore after several passages that do not add anything to the plot (at this point you still think there is something resembling a plot) and assumedly are there for character description you will think: "Well, this sure is a slow burner."
    And when something finally happens we enter part two, which is not at all connected to the narrative you where just following. Again you have quite some time of boring passages, during which you start to understand how this all connects to part one, and when the speed finally picks up and something interesting happens we jump back to the narrative of before and into part three. More boredom, more character description, more of whatever this is.
    And again, when something finally happens we jump into part four. This part is about entirely different people that find the master tapes of the video scenes from the beginning of the book.
    Sure, you get the connection, but in the end this all amounts to nothing.

    After a while this book reminded me a lot of "The catcher in the rye". And considering who John Darnielle is he might feel honoured by this comparison. And quite a few people reading this might think this is high praise. But it is not, I despise "The catcher in the rye"! That book was boring, tedious and pointless, just as this book. And the prose, despite what some may say, us just nothing special. It's neither elegant nor especially authentic. This is true for both novels.

    I did not know the Mountain Goats when I purchased this. Had I known them and therefore who Darnielle is and what his style is, I might have expected something strange like this book. But I went by the description alone and that was a grave mistake.
    There is no proper suspense, no proper story arc, no proper resolution, no proper narrative.
    If you liked "The catcher in the rye" and especially if you like the Mountain Goats this might be for you, otherwise just move along.
    This book is a waste of time. Which is quite fitting, considering the videos this book revolves around where a waste of time as well.