Wow. Just wow. A pure delight from beginning to end: one of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've ever listened to. I'm a Beatles fanatic, and that probably helps; but I'd venture to say that this book has the potential to grab even people who don't know or don't care much about them. Mark Lewisohn writes with great insight and narrative skill about the struggles of the Beatles to gain recognition and professional success at a time when no one else - NO one - was doing the kind of music they were doing, in the way they were doing it. They're poster children for the "10,000 hours" take on career development. They paid their dues.
Lewisohn gives particularly full attention to Pete Best, Brian Epstein, and George Martin. I've read several books on the Beatles and biographies of individual band members, and I still heard surprising new information about these people, and everybody else connected with the band, on practically every "page."
It's not hagiography. John Lennon, as much as I love him, is clearly a world-class jerk, and the others all have less positive aspects. Their terrible treatment of Pete Best and their wild life on the Reeperbahn are presented in unsparing detail. But running through the book is a strong sense of their devotion to music, the clarity of their vision, and their genius: genius being defined as an infinite capacity for taking pains.
Clive Mantle does a terrific job with the narration. He does the "voices" as if it were a work of fiction. I know that's not to everyone's taste, but to me, the key is whether it's done well or not. Mantle nails the Liverpool accent and even captures the unique cadence of each Beatle; and he nails the posh "standard" accents of Epstein and Martin as well.
Lewisohn spent 10 years writing this. I hope that includes the research for the other two volumes. This one stops at the end of 1962, just before "Please Please Me" was released. I don't want to wait another 10 years for the next part. I'm not ready to let these guys go yet.
Grover Gardner is one of the two or three best narrators of Twain, and he does an outstanding job on this (sometimes) difficult material. The difficulty isn't because of Twain's writing, or in this case speaking -- he dictated most of this material, and you can "hear" him sometimes backing up and correcting himself. Twain's writing is one of the wonders of the natural world, and he's the only writer who can make me laugh out loud on the subway.
The difficulty in this case is the background of the project and Twain's design for an autobiography. The audiobook is basically everything in the printed volume except the footnotes. It includes the extensive introduction (how the editors identified the order of the various typescripts), several hours of "false starts" (autobiographical material Twain published elsewhere before settling on this plan), and extensive captions for each section. Gardner's clear and resonant voice keeps everything in perspective, but there's a lot to digest. If you're a Twain fan, you'll be grateful. If you're not, this book wouldn't be your best introduction. It probably helps to have a good grasp of the essentials of Twain's life before going into this one.
It's chronological -- not according to Twain's life, but according to the order of dictation. Twain wanted to combine aspects of diary and autobiography into a single scheme, one that left him the ability to jump from one subject to another as the spirit moved him. And it moved him quite a bit. A given day's dictation could cover six or seven different topics, each with Twain's eye for the illuminating detail and the perfect self-deprecating turn of phrase.
For diehards like me, it's a feast, a cornucopia, an incredible act of generosity on the part of editors, publishers, and reader. But it does require careful listening.
A delightful introduction to Bram Stoker's life and work. Frank Delaney traces the cultural roots of the Dracula myth back to Lilith and brings it up to Stoker's time; along the way he provides his own take on things like the town of Whitby with its ruined abbey and its red-tiled roofs. Delaney also provides useful background on Stoker's experience in the London theater working for Henry Irving. A good travel companion for any of the many excellent recordings of "Dracula" available on Audible.
Just what I needed.
I love love loved it. I remember the moment that I heard that Nora died. I was on vacation with friends and one of them looked at the news burp on their phone to report it after a gasp. I had no clue who she was. I found out from the lengthy discusssion afterwards. Because of Delia's last name I took a chance on this book and boy oh boy am I glad I did.
Here is the skinny - 1) It's four and a half an hours long and 2) Meg Ryan reads it to you. Which can be bad and good if you are expecting hours of bang for your buck. It's exceptionally good and fabulous if you need a book to get you through 5 hours that will make you feel confident, chatty and fun at the end. It's a real mood elevator.
This book is chatting with your best friend - reliving heartbreak with a friend - hearing all your friend's funny stories and clucking your tongue at life with a friend. It's good company.
I ended up spending a lot of time googling Delia's entire family throughout the whole book. Imagine their parents, who wrote many of my most favorite movies, being so different from the characters that they created. That was mind boggling to me.
I've read over 80 books this year and Delia is the only one of those authors that I have joined facebook page with so I can keep track of them. When she writes her next novel or movie - I want to know about it. I am going to be there the first day.
Meg Ryan is, of course, like listening to angels.