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The Sunset Limited  By  cover art

The Sunset Limited

By: Cormac McCarthy
Narrated by: Austin Pendleton,Ezra Knight,Tom Stechschulte
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Publisher's Summary

A startling encounter on a New York subway platform leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where a life or death decision must be made.

In that small apartment, Black and White, as the two men are known, begin a conversation that leads each back through his own history, mining the origins of two fundamentally opposing world views. White is a professor whose seemingly enviable existence of relative ease has left him nonetheless in despair. Black, an ex-con and ex-addict, is the more hopeful of the men, though he is just as desperate to convince White of the power of faith as White is desperate to deny it. Their aim is no less than this: to discover the meaning of life.

Deft, spare, and full of artful tension, The Sunset Limited is a beautifully crafted, consistently thought-provoking, and deceptively intimate work by one of the most insightful writers of our time.

©2007 Cormac McCarthy (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

“A brilliantly articulated piece, penned by a wildly acclaimed fiction writer. Nothing short of dazzling. So astonishingly effecting, so powerful, so stimulating!” ( Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about The Sunset Limited

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

I held off from buying this because of the short length of the audiobook. After getting through all of Cormac McCarthy's other audiobooks, this was the only one I haven't read. I'm glad I did. After purchasing, I realized that it was a play and the performances by the voice actors were excellent. It's one of those stories that stick with you long after you listen to it. I didn't realize that HBO released a movie for this until after I listened to it. The movie is superb as well (Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson).

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Nihilism Unlimited, Existentialism Revisited

Very entertaining dialogue, a battle of the wits, pitting Black against White, believer against unbeliever, personal against intellectual. Cormac McCarthy is gifted and talented, presenting the classic existential drama of "why not commit suicide," best portrayed previously by Albert Camus. However, the Black believer with personal commitment to living is set up as a nitwit against the White unbelieving intellectual who seems to prevail by sheer force of intellectual nihilism. As Job replied to God, Black seems to say to White: "I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth." Still, entertaining banter.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great readers and thoughtful words

I hate buying short books but this one might have me reconsidering the issue. Alarmingly well written and perfectly read, this terse book had me smiling the whole time. It also felt much more mature than any college dorm room version of religion vs atheism because nothing in this book is naive or stereotyped. The setup is the only act that demanded we suspend any disbelief -- it's plausible but also a bit serendipitous or coincidental. Read it -- you can't go wrong.

4 people found this helpful

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wow weee!

Wow wee that was great.

I buy books mostly for their intelligent content. I seldom run into ppl that have the capacity or interest or insightfulness or any combination of the lot. When I really enjoy or am captivated by a book here on audible it is much more than a common pleasure. For me a book like this is a simulation, idea fodder, companionship for my mind. Even if there are ideas that I do not agree with, as some in here, I enjoy their company. This book was fine company. Fine indeed. A simple setting filled with a complex dialog.

Well done. Quite well done. It is beautiful in it’s simplicity: to men in a room talking to each other while sitting at a table. Black sounds like some of my elderly friends that are black. White sounds like some of the intellectual s I have met in my days of coffee shops and collage campuses. If the description of the books sounds attractive then the books should prove to be a good choice.

NOTE: the description fails to mention that the majority of the content revolves around Black’s belief in the Bible.

3 people found this helpful

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Listened to it twice!

Where does The Sunset Limited rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is the first dramatic piece I've listened to, but it was excellent. You feel like you're in the room watching and listening to these two diverse men.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are only two, but I feel more warmly towards the one they call Black, but I don't see how you couldn't. His role is to convince/save/outlast the other, and he has quite a few stories to tell. White/Professor, until close to the end, doesn't want to share or is unable to share his stories.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened to others by any of these men, but it is not really narrated. More of a play.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Despite the fact that Black moves the story along, White/Professor is finally pushed to the wall at the end and out of frustration or need or urgency, something--he doesn't so much as explain but spews out his feelings of absolute disdain for his life. The listener, at least this one, understands him. Sad for him, but understands him. In that moment he doesn't seem sad --he seems as though there is no other way to live or not live his life. It's not "Nobody loves me"--more "I don't see how anyone cares about anything in this world."

Any additional comments?

This is such a rich story, I listened to it twice so that I could catch as much as possible of the intent. There is a sort of dark humor to it at times and Black is so certain of his faith, that God is right there with them, that it is clearly painful to him that he can't save this other man. A personal moment, a real living faith in God, in opposition to a personal moment, a real faith in desolation. I can't decide what will happen after White leaves. That isn't the point--it's a discussion of absolutes with no winner.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought Provoking

This story/drama is thought provoking and well- acted. McCarthy is certainly not afraid of the big questions. This is definitely not light entertainment, but it holds your interest and makes you think. It's dark sure,(we are talking about Cormac McCarthy here) but well worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Masterpiece. Like a bullet.

This is such a powerful piece of writing made even more impactful with outstanding performances of the narrators. Not unusual for McCarthy of course, but unusual for me to actually write a review. Sunset Limited is perhaps the best less-than two hours I’ve spent with art in a very long time. I’m having a hard time finding the words with which to praise this writing and performance so I will simply say, listen to it immediately, completely and without distraction. Then share it with someone else. So much better than a movie.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Depressing yet unenlightening

A repetitive and uninspiring story. Cormac is my favorite writer but I found no endearing quality in this story. When I read The Road I was very inspired, to purchase a handgun. This book just made me feel depressed.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bleakness

Another well written but very bleak, desolate and dark story. But would you expect less from McCarthy?

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nihilism and Jesus as flip sides of the same absurd coin

Cleverly written and quite humorous, the story nevertheless amounts to little more than philosophical/theological masturbation. And in a way that only Cormac McCarthy can do, in his talented yet all too often reductive way. The professor is not an atheist, not merely an atheist that is, which is a life-affirming position. No, he’s a nihilist, which is more aligned, perhaps counterintuitively, with the resignation of the theist, in that the horrors of this life are real. What, or if anything, comes after, is where they differ. The production is quite enjoyable, particularly the performances of Austin Pendleton and Ezra King. But the themes discussed are so oversimplified, that I fear it may have a troublesome effect, one way or the other, to impressionable minds like teenagers, where these questions first tend to pop up.