Narrator: Frank Muller
Length: 3 Hours 58 Minutes
Published by Penguin, Penguin Audio on February 16, 1995
Genres: Criminals & Outlaws, Fiction, Friendship
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Based on a a novella fromáDifferent Seasons, this unabridged tale focuses on a man convicted of murder, who finds himself in a prison ruled by a sadistic warden and secretly operated by a clever convict.
I am willing to bet the majority of people reading this review have already seen the film version of The Shawshank Redemption. If you have not seen the movie, stop reading my review and go watch the film. It is amazing. I have recently discovered the ‘free’ audio-books on the library. (Thank you tax dollars). The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King is a relatively short book. It is also a short audio book, only 3 cassettes (my POS car has a tape-deck). Frank Muller narrates Stephen King’s tale of prison life. Here’s the thing, if you must audio a cassette, don’t get an old cassette from the library, buy a new one. With me, it just skipped and pretty much stopped playing, so I had to plead with the powers that be to let me finish the story of Red and Andy Dufresne.
Bitching and moaning aside, I thought Frank Muller’s voice was perfect for the story. He sounds like a grizzled felon with a heart of gold. As audio-book┬áconnoisseurs┬áknow, the voice really adds or detracts from a book.
I felt the characters were fascinating. I genuinely liked Andy Dufresne, disliked the corrupt guards known as screws, and Red – the man who can get you anything in prison. Andy embodies hope within the most confining circumstances, jailed for murder of his wife and her lover — he really has little hope of parole. There’s no way he’d ever get out, as the DA used Andy’s case as leverage into a higher position. You have the guards who represent the institution, who do their best to exploit Andy’s tax-preparing expertise, and try to squelch Andy’s hope. You have Red who’s been in jail for so long that it feels safe to him, he has a position of prominence within the prison as the man who can get anything. Red makes for an intriguing study of the psychological effect of institutionalization.
I loved King’s writing style, he can really make me guffaw, then feel broken hearted, then fit to burst with joy all on one page. I know some people hate King and his super-long books, but I am an unabashed King fan. I think there is a reason he is the king of horror, and I think his efforts to reach into other genres are fantastic (i.e. The Green Mile — wasn’t horror to me), so maybe I do have some bias. I love that King makes me contemplate the freedom of being able to see the night-sky unimpeded by bars.
However, I will admit, I felt the movie was definitely better. There is a reason it is the number one user voted film on IMDB.com.
While reading this book, I suggest you drink whatever you want, as you, dear reader, have the freedom to drink anything you wish (if you are over 21 in the US, and not reading this from jail). Enjoy the freedom we all take for granted, and think of Andy Dufresne.