Universal Harvester: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: John Darnielle

Narrated By: John Darnielle

Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Date: February 2017

Duration: 5 hours 48 minutes


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.
This program is read by the author and includes original music.


  • Thomas B

    John Darnielle has always been one of my favorite storytellers with his amazing lyric writing abilities... then came Wolf in White Van and i gained a whole new respect for him. Then came this book,Universal Harvester. This book really. took things to a whole new level. universal harvester is a fantastically beautiful book. the melancholic mood that sweeps you across the plains in this novel is surreal. JD is a great narrator too. his voice is very soothing, and his rhythm is perfect. i cant wait for anotherbook from him,,, in the meantime maybe we could get an audiobook for masters of reality.

  • josh s

    I loved listening to the author read his own work. It really gives you a better sense of the writers intention. I've read John's previous book "wolf in white van" and I think I enjoyed this one more, though his work tends to feel unresolved. There's a mystery, and you're waiting for it to unfold and it just sort of moves on; like the mystery itself is not so important as the characters reaction to the existence. He definitely takes the idea of a reluctant protagonist to another level. At any rate, he really nails the voice of the small town mid-western characters.

  • Diane Bronstein

    This is an ambiguous and creepy novel of the quiet farmland of fly-over country. There's no blatant violence and the mystery unfolds in a slow discovery. Different characters know parts of the mystery, but some don't come forward easily or at all. The ending doesn't really give us the answers we seek, but sometimes it's more interesting to not know exactly what happened.

Universal Harvester: A Novel

by John Darnielle

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Universal Harvester: A Novel, John Darnielle