I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
King says that these short stories are about ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances.
The first story set in the 1920s, follows a desperate act carried out by a father and son in a frantic attempt to save their farm. They become haunted men, and although their hope was to be able to continue their simple life on the farm, things turn out quite differently for these two. I like the feeling of creepy suspense and the gruesome moments in this story, This is Mr. King's signature type of tale.
The next three stories set in current times keep the pace with the first.
The second story is about a female mystery writer who finds herself all alone with a broken down vehicle on a deserted country road. This story maintains tension and suspense throughout, keeping the reader engaged to the end. I like the way the writer makes us think he has forgotten a loose end, this keeps us second guessing him.
The third story was my least favorite. The main character who has only a few months left to live, visits a roadside stand manned by Elvid, who sells "extensions". For me, this story seemed predictable, lacking the depth of the other short stories in this collection.
The last story was also quite good; a wife learns more about her husband than she ever wishes she had. This story for me, was less about the husband's evil side, and more about the wife's dilemma. This story has great suspense and keeps the reader thinking.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed these short stories and look forward to more from SK!
Walter is an accomplished author and he truly shines in this book. Some of these short stories are engaging and worthwhile. The stories explore parent/child relationships, familial love, romantic love and abandonment. Some of the stories are of broken down people who are trying...trying so much that one character says "Who isn't crazy sometimes?"
In "Don't Eat the Cat", the characters in the future must interact with others who have willingly become "Zombies", (violent, mindless, sexually depraved people) from using a very destructive club drug. A man goes into "Zombie Town" to seek out a lost love, leaving the reader anxiously awaiting the outcome.
The stories that stood out to me were thought provoking with a sense of irony that kept me wanting more.
Yet conversely I felt that a few of the stories were there only to complete the collection, pad the book; they let me down feeling quite unsatisfied and confused.
The reader was competent and added to this collection overall making this book worth the download. I'm really glad I listened.
Ok here's what I think worked in this book..... The novellas/ short stories/novel held my interest throughout. The authors desire to delve into the emotions and messiness of romantic relationships was apparent from beginning to end, making the story/stories interesting and somewhat insightful. And many of the characters were well developed and interestng.
Ok......so what I think didn't work so well was this author again decided to narrate his own book. Mr Dubus'111 narration this time, in attempt I believe to avoid the monotone issue of his narration in his memoir Townie, Dubus111 narrates this book in a sing song style that for me is reminiscent of the style of slam poets. I found this narration style distracting and unfortunately not a positive asset to this book.
Also what is going on with so many authors recent works? The endings are non-endings. The "endings"seem to be from the "figure it out for yourself" school of thought. Is it just my imagination that more and more authors now are choosing to end their books this way?
So if I could I'd give this book a solid 3.5. Good, not great.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Anton Chekhov's The Kiss and the Duel and Other Stories translated by Constance Garnett (1916-1923) is an excellent collection. Each story features a crisis in some human relationship: between strangers in "The Kiss" (1887), when a bespectacled, lynx-whiskered, milquetoast army officer is mistakenly kissed by an unknown woman in a dark room at a tea party; enemies in "The Duel" (1891) when a coldly superior botanist challenges a lazy, spoiled, and amoral intellectual official to a duel; brother and sister in "Excellent People" (1886), when a listless sister who has always worshiped her wannabe literary figure brother begins asking him about the principle of non-resistance to evil; dupes and vamp in "Mire" (1886), when a younger cousin and his older cousin take turns visiting a cynical and mercurial Jewess who owes one of them money; brother, sister, and friend in "Neighbours" (1892), when a young country gentleman rides to confront his beloved sister and the idealistic and pathetic married man she's run away to live with; and royal and subject in "The Princess" (1889), when a spoiled princess who believes she's an angel dispensing light and joy to humanity asks a doctor she's fired to tell her the truth about her mistakes.
To explain the crisis and prepare for the climax of each story, Chekhov dispassionately and sympathetically cores the human soul. His insights into the human heart and mind are accurate, humorous, and devastating. He excels at placing people out of their depths in intolerable situations, so that if they manage to swim back to shore it's a heroic feat. At the same time, he concisely depicts Russian culture near the end of the 19th century, complete with growing conflicts between different classes, cultures, regions, philosophies, and so on.
Interestingly, Chekhov's stories, no matter how bleak, give me intense pleasure, and make me feel more alive. How does he do it? It must be his irony and empathy, keen eye for observation, and original mind for metaphors. Whenever his characters resolve to righteously take someone to task and then find themselves instead wimpishly appeasing the person, I think, Ah, that's me! The best we can hope to achieve, it seems, is coming to understand, as one character says near the end of "The Duel," "No one knows where the real truth lies." That and trying to treat people with humanity and kindness.
Fred Williams gives a solid reading of the stories. He doesn't dramatically change his voice for different characters, unlike virtuoso actor-readers, but he reads every word clearly and every sentence with appropriate rhythm and emphasis, and he enhances the text with appropriate wit and emotion. And I really like his deliberate, deep, and slightly gravelly and nasal voice. The only difficult point about the audiobook lay in my unfamiliarity with Russian names, so that, especially in the novella "The Duel," I sometimes mixed the characters up in my mind when listening. So I'd recommend getting a text version of the story (many free ones are online) and reading the character names in it once or twice so as to be able to hear their differences more readily.
You have to love lines like this from "Neighbours":
"It's a charming house altogether," she went on, sitting down opposite her brother. "There's some pleasant memory in every room. In my room, only fancy, Grigory's grandfather shot himself."
And it's a testament to Chekhov's genius that of the conclusions of the last two stories in the collection, the self-realization of the first nearly makes a happy ending, while the self-delusion of the second surely makes an unhappy one:
"From Koltovitch's copse and garden there came a strong fragrant scent of lilies of the valley and honey-laden flowers. Pyotr Mihalitch rode along the bank of the pond and looked mournfully into the water. And thinking about his life, he came to the conclusion he had never said or acted upon what he really thought, and other people had repaid him in the same way. And so the whole of life seemed to him as dark as this water in which the night sky was reflected and water-weeds grew in a tangle. And it seemed to him that nothing could ever set it right." (from "Neighbours")
Trying to look like a bird, the princess fluttered into the carriage and nodded in all directions. There was a gay, warm, serene feeling in her heart, and she felt herself that her smile was particularly soft and friendly. As the carriage rolled towards the gates, and afterwards along the dusty road past huts and gardens, past long trains of waggons and strings of pilgrims on their way to the monastery, she still screwed up her eyes and smiled softly. She was thinking there was no higher bliss than to bring warmth, light, and joy wherever one went, to forgive injuries, to smile graciously on one's enemies. The peasants she passed bowed to her, the carriage rustled softly, clouds of dust rose from under the wheels and floated over the golden rye, and it seemed to the princess that her body was swaying not on carriage cushions but on clouds, and that she herself was like a light, transparent little cloud. . . .
"How happy I am!" she murmured, shutting her eyes. "How happy I am!" (from "The Princess")