You Deserve Nothing
by Alexander Maksik
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Dan John Miller, Adam Verner
Tantor Audio, 2012
7 hours 27 minutes
Product description (from amazon):
Set in Paris, at an international high school catering to the sons and daughters of wealthy families, You Deserve Nothing is a gripping story of power, idealism, and morality.
William Silver is a talented and charismatic young teacher whose unconventional methods raise eyebrows among his colleagues and superiors. His students, however, are devoted to him. His teaching of Camus, Faulkner, Sartre, Keats and other kindred souls breathe life into their sense of social justice and their capacities for philosophical and ethical thought. But unbeknownst to his adoring pupils, Silver proves incapable of living up to the ideals he encourages in others. Emotionally scarred by failures in his personal life and driven to distraction by the City of Light's overpowering carnality and beauty, Silver succumbs to a temptation that will change the course of his life. His fall will render him a criminal in the eyes of some, and all too human in the eyes of others.
In Maksik's stylish prose, Paris is sensual, dazzling and dangerously seductive. It serves as a fitting backdrop for a dramatic tale about the tension between desire and action, and about the complex relationship that exists between our public and private selves.
Thanks to my audible.com wish list, which currently consists of 142 books suitable for every mood imaginable, audiobook selection is usually a breeze. Recently though, I was feeling restless and decided to change things up by perusing my print wish list instead. An extra click showed the titles available on audio, and I quickly discovered that You Deserve Nothing featured multiple narrators. I generally love this type of production, and previous experience with two of the three readers made this audio the perfect choice.
All I knew of the plot was that it involved a teacher at the American School of Paris and some questionable choices. The audio was instantly engaging, but before too long, it became clear where the plot was headed. Novels about teacher/student relationships are not uncommon, yet I tend to avoid them. As the mother of three college-aged daughters, my sympathies never lie with the teacher. This book, although quite intelligent and well-written, would most likely have been abandoned had I been reading. However, I was totally invested in the audio production and simply could not stop listening.
Eventually, I became aware of the controversy surrounding this novel. The author actually was a teacher at ASP, became involved with a student, and was let go. Parts of the book (certain conversations, lessons, etc.) are alleged to be very close to the truth and used without permission. This leads me to wonder whether You Deserve Nothing is really even a novel, or simply the further exploitation of a student?
A note on the audio production:
Some books naturally lend themselves to multi-narrator productions and, when done well, usually end up being a favorite. You Deserve Nothing is very well done. Cassandra Campbell and Adam Verner are 'tried and true' readers. Campbell has long been a favorite, and I discovered Verner in 2010 through Pavilion of Women. Dan John Miller, previously unknown to me, was also excellent.
The audio production is nothing short of amazing.
The novel itself is smart and well-written.
The surrounding controversy, however, turns my stomach.
You Deserve Nothing was a very memorable audio experience dealing with a topic I tend to avoid.
FTC disclosure: purchased from audible.com