Friday, May 18, 2012

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik (Audio)


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.

My thoughts:

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.

My ratings:
The audio production is nothing short of amazing.



The novel itself is smart and well-written.



The surrounding controversy, however, turns my stomach.

Bottom line:
You Deserve Nothing was a very memorable audio experience dealing with a topic I tend to avoid.




FTC disclosure: purchased from audible.com

16 comments:

  1. Oh, I have heard about that book. It sounds like the audio is the way to go with it.

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    Replies
    1. Kathy - I think audio is definitely the way to go with this book.

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  2. Wonderful review -- I wish I could let go of my angst about the true-ness of it so I could listen -- you have me so curious about the audiobook!!

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    1. Thanks, Audra. This may be one of the best multi-voice productions I've heard.

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  3. I loved this book and am so pleased that it worked on audio. I love multiple narrators too and can see how this would really come to life with a great production. Glad you enjoyed it (putting the actual events aside)

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    1. Jackie - I'm pretty sure it was your review that caused me to add this book to my wish list. The audio production is truly amazing and the book very well written, but the actual events prevent me from recommending the 'novel' whole-heartedly.

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  4. Part of me really wishes I'd read this before I heard about the controversy, because everyone seems to say it is quite good, but I just don't think I can get over that aspect, even with amazing narrators.

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    Replies
    1. Jen - Getting past the controversy is definitely an issue. I probably would not have even started the book if I'd known about it ahead of time...

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  5. As the mother of daughters this would not sit well with me either. Not at all! It's interesting that you continued listening but if it were a book, you would have abandoned it.

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    1. Kaye - There was something about this audio production that literally held me captive - simply could not turn away!

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  6. I enjoyed the book too. Whatever else may or may not be the case, it's a very good read.

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    1. Marie - Absolutely.. almost wish I knew nothing of the controversy.

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  7. I have never heard of this novel, but with your rave review, how can I possibly resist getting the audio?! I've become quite addicted to audio books and especially enjoy those of multiple readers. Off to add this to my list. Thanks!!

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    1. Les - Europa Editions published this in print, but it didn't seem to get a lot of attention. Added it to my wish list after reading Jackie's (Farm Lane Books) review - it was one of her favorites last year. I love audiobooks with multiple readers, too and this is definitely a great production...if you can get past the surrounding controversy.

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  8. Now that I know how close it is to the truth I don't think I could listen to it. I'm a little too judgemental!

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    Replies
    1. Stacy - I can be pretty judgemental, too, and was very disappointed to learn how much of this actually happened.

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