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Tad

Tad Philadelphia, PA, United States Member Since 2005

Shakespeare, Dickens, Homer, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, History.

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  • "Intense and painfully sad"

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    I avoided this book for a long time: who wants to read a book about a person who's so good everyone around him thinks he's an idiot?

    Boy, was I wrong. This is an intense and brooding novel, filled with Dostoevsky's usual array of deeply conflicted characters and blistering monologues. The idiot himself, Prince Myshkin, is no pushover: maybe he's a bit naive at times, but he insists on treating people as equals and assuming their good intentions until contrary evidence is overwhelming. He suffers from epilepsy, and in the course of the novel has a couple of seizures that dramatically alter the direction of the story.

    Superficially, the novel is about Myshkin's conflicted relationships with two women: Aglaya, the youngest daughter of a distant relative, with whom he is in love; and Anastassya Filippovna, a "fallen woman" who's been fobbed off by her former lover and who seems to be drifting from one self-destructive relationship to another. Myshkin may have loved her once, but now he mainly pities her. Aglaya, who at one point seems willing to marry Myshkin, ultimately breaks off because of his obsession with Anastassya.

    But that's only one small facet of this complex, teeming book. The characters are captivating, the scenes at times almost hypnotic in their intensity. I've only read a few of Dostoevsky's novels, but so far I'm inclined to say this is probably my favorite.

    Robert Whitfield (=Simon Vance) gives a stellar reading. Of particular note is his ability to distinguish the voices of the many women in the book: sometimes the shading is subtle, but I always knew instantly who was talking. Well done, highly recommended.

    More

    The Idiot [Blackstone]

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    Overall
    (358)
    Performance
    (152)
    Story
    (158)

    Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power, and sexual conquest than the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal, and murder follow, testing the wreckage left by human misery to find "man in man."

    Tad says: "Intense and painfully sad"
  1. The Idiot [Blackstone]
  2. .

A Peek at Emily - Audible's Bookshelf

Helpful
Votes
521
 
Maplewood, NJ, United States 24 REVIEWS / 141 ratings Member Since 2008 481 Followers / Following 103
 
Emily - Audible's greatest hits:
  • Persuasion

    "Juliet Stevenson is Simply Amazing"

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    Persuasion was the only Jane Austen novel I had not read so I recently decided to remedy that. Juliet Stevenson had cracked me up as the neurotic mother in Bend It Like Beckham, so I was sure I could count on her to bring out the comical side of the story (and Jane Austen always offers up some comedy). But I had no idea Stevenson was such a subtle and talented actress. As the omniscient narrator she sounds sensible, measured, and lovely. She delivers the story while not allowing the listener to get bogged down in Austen’s sometimes antiquated language. She successfully confers masculinity to the male voices without attempting to impersonate. And the women who are meant to be laughable, such as Anne’s sister Mary, with them she is ruthless. And it’s delightful.

    In terms of the story – this is probably Jane Austen’s best. Pride and Prejudice will always be my long-standing favorite, having been the first book in my life that I couldn't put down, but Persuasion is Austen's smartest work, and you can sense her own maturity in it (it was her last completed novel). It takes the kind of characters we meet in her other novels and fast-forwards them ten years. These are grown women – not girls – dealing with love and loss, and learning about second chances.

  • Brave New World

    "Nightmare-Inducing (in a Good Way)"

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    Story

    When I first read Brave New World it gave me nightmares. I was hooked. It might be strange to say that a book that gave me bad dreams is a good thing, but I was intrigued that a story could worm its way so powerfully into my psyche. It was really my first encounter with dystopian speculative fiction and I ultimately credit Huxley with sending me on my recent nosedive into YA lit. He probably wouldn’t appreciate this association, or the one I’m about to make, which is that I think this book is one of the most powerful and accessible works of dystopia ever created, and can be seen as a forebear to much of today’s hottest literature.

    Sometimes when I’m not sure what I want to listen to next I’ll return to a book that I loved fervently in print and check it out in audio, and that’s what I did with Brave New World. I’m so glad that I did. Michael York is an excellent narrator and he captures the different characters admirably. But what I found most impressive is how he handles dialogue. Brave New World is more than dystopian sci-fi; it’s a novel of ideas and discussion. There’s a lengthy rapid-fire debate that takes place between John the Savage and Mustapha Mond near the end of the book that is generously peppered with obscure Shakespearian references. When reading you can gloss over anything you do not get immediately because you understand the merit of their discussion: is it better to be happy and controlled, or is the freedom to be unhappy the greatest of human liberties? But I found while listening that Michael York carried me along through their debate and the individual Shakespearian references sang clearly. Just as seeing a play acted out on stage is easier than reading it, I really feel that listening to this book was a heightened experience, and an improvement on the print version. Now when I recommend Brave New World to people I suggest they listen to it first.

    And I’m going to recommend it again now: There’s a reason this is a classic, and read by most freshman English students. If somehow you’ve missed it, now is the time to pick this one up.

  • The End of the Affair

    "Colin Firth Kills It"

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    Ok I’m only halfway through The End of the Affair, but I’ve been talking everyone’s ears off about it around the office and just had to go ahead and write a review before finishing it (something I’m generally opposed to doing).

    I’m not sure quite how to capture just how exceptional Firth’s performance is, but I'll give you two good examples. Graham Greene writes a lot about how close together love and hate are (apathy being the true opposite of both), and Colin Firth totally connects with his meaning. When Firth says the word “hate” you really feel rapture simmering beneath the surface. When he utters the word “love” he spits it out like venom. The two are irreparably intertwined. The subject matter is there - this being, in essence, a record of great passion gone wrong - and Colin Firth does it justice. Every word is impassioned without ever being too much or over the top. Narrators have to be careful to walk this fine line when dealing with emotionally heavy material and Firth succeeds perfectly. But Bendrix, the protagonist isn’t just a man of great feeling – he’s also a curmudgeon, he’s difficult, he’s maybe a little cruel – but Firth makes you care for him despite the fact that you really don’t like him. Another vocal juggling act performed without flaw.

    I have never read The End of the Affair before and only have a vague memory of seeing the movie, so I don’t really know where the book is going to end up – but I just hope I can somehow elongate the delicious few hours left that I have with it. Seriously, seriously, seriously – don’t miss this performance.

  • The Yellow Wallpaper

    "A Visceral Reaction"

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    Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella is one of those stories that reminds me to be thankful that I live when I do. It's about a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression before postpartum depression existed. Instead, women suffered from “exhaustion,” “a case of nerves,” or (the best gender-specific illness of all time) “hysteria.” She submits to the forced regime of rest prescribed by her doctor husband, and the inactivity and removal from her child throws her headfirst into a depressive spiral. Especially strong in audio - the narration here is gentle, real, and creepy all at once. Jo Myddleton’s voice begins calm and rises in desperation as the protagonist descends into madness. The panic and claustrophobia is tangible. You’ll get angry. You’ll want to protest something. Your inner-feminist (guys too - you know she’s in there) will awaken. It’s awesome.

Paul Z.

Paul Z. Wixom, MI 01-15-10 Member Since 2009
HELPFUL VOTES
152
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  • "This book is one of the reasons I j..."

    22 of 22 helpful votes

    I loved it! I have read this book a number of times and in different translation but it was great to listen to it while on the road.

    More

    The Brothers Karamazov

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By Walter Covell
    Overall
    (237)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (90)

    Dostoevsky studied human nature with passion and precision. He plumbed the depths and never winced at what he found, even when it was beyond his understanding. This extraordinary novel is a recital of his findings, told in the story of four brothers: Dimitri, pleasure-seeking, impatient, unruly; Ivan, brilliant and morose; Alyosha, gentle, loving, honest; and the illegitimate Smerdyakov, sly, silent, cruel. What give this story its dramatic grip is the part these brothers play in their father's murder.

    Paul Z. says: "This book is one of the reasons I joined Audible!"

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    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, Margaret Mitchell's great novel of the South is one of the most popular books ever written. Within six months of its publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind had sold a million copies. To date, it has been translated into 25 languages, and more than 28 million copies have been sold. Here are the characters that have become symbols of passion and desire....

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    First published in 1913, "Fishhead" by Irwin S. Cobb takes place at real Reelfoot Lake, the largest lake south of the Ohio line mostly in Tennessee but extending up across what is now the Kentucky line. The protagonist, Fishhead, a halfbreed lives alone by his choice and by the choice of his neighbors because of his deformity that causes his head to resemble a fish. This story was written in 1913, and the narrators chosen to leave the N-word in as part of the narration, so please be aware. This is another nery creepy story, that no doubt influenced H.P. Lovecraft.

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    When a hardened criminal kills guards and breaks out of prison, Steve Fraser, a lieutenant in the Texas Rangers, is tasked with bringing him to justice. From the bowels of a mine, deep underground, to the stone labyrinths of the mountains of Wyoming, Steve follows his quarry. But his chase requires him to befriend people who turn out to be wanted in another killing. How can he justify his actions with his innate sense of honesty, his new friends, and the bewitching woman he meets in their midst?

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    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes changed crime fiction forever and helped launch not just a popular character but an enduring legend who is just as loved today.

    This audio book was narrated in London by experienced British stage actor Robert Maskell at a voice recording studio renowned for high production values.

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    Who determines what stops the presses? Enter the world of Mark Twain who was handed an item from an emotional man late one night. The presses were stopped, the item run, and Twain was in trouble with his editor. Enjoy the humor as Twain tries to understand the importance of "Mr. Bloke’s Item".

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    A Medieval Romance

    • UNABRIDGED (16 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Glenn Hascall
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    If you've ever wondered what a tale of knights and dukes would look like through the mind of humorist Mark Twain? Travel back in time to the 1200s. Twain starts well setting the scene for a very interesting conflict. How will it resolve - or will it? The ending really shouldn't be a surprise for those who love the careless ease of Twains humor.

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    The Woman's Ghost Story

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    A woman tells her story of an encounter with a ghost in a deserted old lodging house in the middle of London years ago. She was told that a woman had been murdered there before she agreed as a "psychical researcher" to spend a night in the old building. Her expectations are challenged in this psychological ghost story. Algernon Blackwood wrote over 200 ghost stories as well as being a novelist, playwright, and a writer of nonfiction and children’s stories. His ghost stories fall into what is usually called weird fiction.

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    The Book of Tea

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    • By Okakura Kakuzo
    • Narrated By Alan Munro
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    The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo is a long essay linking the role of tea (teaism) to the aesthetic and cultural aspects of Japanese life. Addressed to a western audience, it was originally written in English and is one of the great English tea classics. Okakura had been taught at a young age to speak English and was proficient at communicating his thoughts to the Western mind. In his book, he discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the secular aspects of tea and Japanese life.

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    The Pacifist

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    • By Arthur C. Clarke
    • Narrated By John W. Michaels
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    A 1950s supercomputer’s purpose is to help fight battles, but what happens when the pompous general in charge of the project chooses to berate the rather meek and mild "Nerd" Dr. Milquetoast, whose job it is to program the massive machine, is a classic case of getting even.

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    • By Gordon R. Dickson
    • Narrated By John W. Michaels
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    It seemed like a good idea at the time to rescue the tribe of Amuk from their primitive ways and move them into modern society. Pibo, their a-lot-smarter-then-he-looked leader, however, had other ideas. Pibo liked his job too much to allow Scout Lieutenant Holroyd Aldo to bring in the mother ship and its extensive reorientation of his people.