Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
Here is a masterpiece and maybe the best book I have found on Audible, yet it deals with perhaps the hardest subject matter there is in modern literature. There are so many reasons I love this book, its hard to rank them.
But let me start with Ray Porter's narration.I have listed him before in my top 3 performers, but there is no question this one makes him the top narrator on Audible. And that is from a library of over 800 titles. There are alot of emotions and even deadpan dialect within this book and Porter captures it all perfectly.
The story revolves around mental illness, a very sensitive and often tragic subject matter. It does not burden us with diagnosis, yet it blesses us with the healing power of excellent therapy. And there is the perfect amount of humor to keep us interested.
Perhaps what I loved most was Quick's use of classic American literature to provide clever and penetrating metaphors to tell us what the hero is actually facing and/or running from.
The Help. Its groundbreaking literature exmaning mental illness as opposed to race to reveal true human experience.
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This is a basic love story hampered by a few reoccurring problems. It's Nicholas Sparks with some sports references and a mental illness arc. My biggest issue was that the main character's mental illness is not so much a characteristic as a plot device. Does he need to have slight amnesia so that the books big reveal remains hidden? Done. Does he need to have a child-like thought process to make him endearing and/or propel the story forward? Done. But his illness is at odds with the other aspects of his character. It seemed a lot less like mental illness and more like stupidity that the author employed as a convenient plot device. The other issue was the prevalent sports theme. While I am not a sports fan and feel that this may have to do with why it irked me, I genuinely disapproved of the manic, frenzied sports mentality that consumed most of the characters. I was fine until it seemed again to be less of a contributing factor to the actual story and more anecdotal filler used at random by the author. And finally, on more than one occasion I felt that I was suspending my disbelief to the point of exhaustion. Another coincidence, another glaring pothole that the reader saw coming from a mile away but none of the characters did, another "but wait how did she know..." or "how in the world did he not know??" because a large portion of the unknown is so obvious that its cliche. I thought I'd put this down once I had reached the middle, because to be honest I just didn't care about the characters or the story and I could see what every character couldn't from an hour in. But a lapse in downloading another book led me to finish it, and it ended as lackluster as I suspected. I would recommend this only if you're a sucker for any sort of love story, and possibly if you're an Eagles fan. Other than that don't bother. Of course I am one negative review amongst a ton of positive, so I could just have awful taste....
“Life is hard, and children have to be told how hard life can be…So they will be sympathetic to others. So they will understand that some people have it harder than they do and that a trip through this world can be a wildly different experience, depending on what chemicals are raging through one’s mind.” - Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook
After listening to the novel last year's popular movie was based on, I understand why other readers at Audible.com sing its praises from the mountaintops. The story’s protagonist and narrator, Pat, gains a lot of his charm through dry descriptions of his erratic behavior. The ease with which Pat explains his odd, compulsive actions and his simplistic outlook on life result in a very amusing read. I am not a laugh out loud person, which makes watching comedies slightly uncomfortable for me, but I did spontaneously laugh out loud a few times while listening to The Silver Linings Playbook.
The novel is Pat’s tale – he stands out from a crowd of slightly flat supporting characters. In the movie, the character of Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) has been fleshed out and amped up to meet Pat (Bradley Cooper) at his level of charm. Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany steals the show in the film, and in the book Tiffany doesn’t have a few of her most memorable scenes.
Another standout feature of the book was its portrayal of the joy of rituals surrounding Pat’s beloved football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. I am not a sports fan and I did just do a quick Google search to confirm that the Eagles are, in fact, a football team; however, this book made me understand and appreciate the sheer pleasure of rooting for a team with all your closest friends, yelling chants and getting hyped.
Maybe predictable for the Hollywood version of any story, the movie feels a lot lighter than the book. Extra plot arcs are created to make the movie goer care a bit more. Although laden with humor, the subject matter here is at its core bleak – mental illness, family dysfunction, loss. The jokes based on Pat’s narration, clever and fresh at the beginning of the novel, felt stale by its end.
Movies that are better than the book they are based on are rare birds – it takes a vivid, complicated movie to master a novel’s plot. Like Fight Club before it, I believe The Silver Linings Playbook has pulled off this feat. The book is charming and witty, but the movie reaches a higher level of creativity.
Matthew Quick has written several books since The Silver Linings Playbook and they all sound worthy of a read.
Book - 3.5/ Movie - 5/ Total review = 4 stars
It wasn't the football that annoyed me, just why did it have to be the Eagles. I loved the book, don't get me wrong, but the obsession with Nikki went too far for me. Plus, the friendship with Tiffany? Throughout the book it seemed like there wasn't much of a friendship really. All in all though I would recommend it. (Oh, and I loved the Asian invasion!) I won't say the movie is better because in this rare case it's comparing apples to oranges, but it crushed my heart and made me happy at the same time. These two actors have great chemistry and I can never pass on a movie with De Niro. So do both book and movie.
I do not see why so many people think this book is amazing. It was very boring and repetitive. I listened to it all the way through to see if anything good would happen, but I wanted to quit after the 4th chapter. I just did not enjoy it or find it inspirational.
I gave the performace three stars. Although the reader was very clear, he spoke quietly when speaking for Tiffany or other women. I had to turn the volume all the way up in order to hear the soft spoken words.
I tried to like it, but it just was not for me.
This book does help you to empathize with those struggling to manage their mental health. I highly suggest it to those in the field and to those freaking with their own personal battles.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Matthew Quick Is a talented guy and I look forward to seeing great things from him. His first book has a lot of good things going for it. For some reason, Quick has been pigeon-holed as a writer for young adults. I can see how that fits, even though none of his characters are adolescents. His protagonist comes across as one, but more about that later. The key YA factors are the simple, direct story, and the accessible characters.
If we weren't told that the protagonist is an adult (and that his issues involved some kind of marital rift), this could easily have been a troubled teen story. Pat has that kind of not-quite-ready-for-the-real-world quality that YA protagonists so often have. The nagging question that arises in the book (as it also did in the movie) is whether Pat is worthy of a partner like Tiffany. I will not say to what extent the book provides a satisfying answer to that.
There were two notable weaknesses in the book. One is that it focused so much on Pat that the relationship with Tiffany never seemed to get convincing traction. The other is that the book seemed to lurch along from one segment to another; there was a certain lack of overall flow. It is kind of fascinating to see how the movie addressed those weaknesses and created a more integrated story. I'm not saying the movie was better; just that there were some structural improvements. There were things in the book I really enjoyed that I was sorry to see were not in the book. But there were also things that just would not have fit in the movie.
I have probably devoted too much space to the weaknesses. It really was an enjoyable book. It struck all the right chords in the places that mattered.
I love how the narrator created each and every moment. You can feel the emotion in his voice that brought you to the place where the character was most passionate. This was a great book and a great read I might add. However, as usual, they can't bring the book to screen because you don't feel what he feels and know what he thinks. This is a must read and a great listen!
An interesting mix of football and love. I selected this story on the advice of a friend who recommended the movie. I haven't watched the movie, but had time for the audiobook on a cross country flight. It was an enjoyable listen, nothing heavy or deep. It is a romantic comedy with a predictable ending but unusual plot line and diverse characters.