Scranton, PA United States | Member Since 2011
This is a very specific book I wouldn't recommend to anyone not actively attending 12-step meetings who doesn't already have some knowledge of Buddhist practice and teachings. If you do have these two qualifications, the book can be immensely helpful in helping you process the steps and make working them part of your daily practice.
I appreciated Mel's anecdotes and examples and would have happily listened to more of them. The author has a wonderfully casual sense of humor that helps remove the pressure from what can feel like very serious work.
The narrator spoke for the author with complete authority. His performance is so natural, it's easy to forget the voice you are hearing is not that of Mel Ash.
I did not actively try to assimilate the book but let it wash over me and seep into my subconscious. One thing perhaps is the sense that a higher power can be anything or anyone as long as it is beyond you, that is outside of you. After watching Pride and Prejudice recently, I decided my higher power looks like Laurence Olivier's Darcy in the sense that if Larry were to turn his eyes upon you and look directly at you, it would feel like what it must feel like to have God look at you. This heart pounding exhilaration and all consuming warm glow. Silly, maybe, but its nice to have the visual image and this little joke to pull out my pocket when the idea of God seems too intangible to apply to everyday life.
I really enjoyed the narrator's reading. She was very believable and authentic. It was especially interesting to hear Bolano write in the voice of a female in that world he had created in The Savage Detectives. And to hear her opine on those men, boys really, including Arturo Belano, the Bolano figure who is really only a teen here.
Only for Bolano fans who have already read and enjoyed The Savage Detectives - and if they have enjoyed it, then Amulet is really a must.
She was very authentic. Really seemed to have a vivid picture of the characters she was talking about and how she felt about them. Also how she felt about her own character - Auxilio and the uncertain place she inhabited in that world even as she is "the mother of Mexican poetry." That humility and awe for the poets is touching.
The scene in which she meets Lilian Serpas's young son Carlos seems to haunt her with unspoken maybe not even fully understood feelings. I really want to go and consult the written text to get a better read between the lines here.
I was a little worried, after I was disappointed in Antwerp, that these smaller Bolano publications would all prove disappointing, but Amulet reassured me that while they all may not be hits, it's worth weeding through to experience the winners.
I'm a big fan of Bolano and certainly intend to read more of his work. David Crommett does just fine as a narrator, the problem here is the material.
After Bolano became a sensation, publishers apparently scooped up every scrap of paper they could find with text scribbled on it and released it. This is great for collectors and I would like the opportunity to examine the text on paper. But to charge the full price of a novel for a short, incomplete work with no real, through story line - I feel that my genuine admiration of a writer is being exploited.
The performance was fine, although there is a certainly a chance that a more genuine representation of Bolano's voice would have brought out aspects of the text I failed to appreciate.
I am now afraid to purchase any of the other in this crop of newly published works in fear that they will be equally incoherent.
The worst part of a listen like this is like a lackluster romantic encounter. You think "maybe it's me." Maybe I wasn't in the right mood and I let it wash over me and the fault is mine for not being more in the moment. I've certainly had to start audio books over again until I felt them grip me and get sucked in to the story. But I don't think this is case of that phenom.
Listening to the author read her own story is a gift even as Kingsolver's voice is not always as strong as a professional actor's.
Is it possible not to become enamored with Frida? Not if the author has had her way, I suspect. She is human and faulted and somehow the more glorious for it. For all her pain and challenges, she cannot take life lying down. She is so clever and so aware and yet too humble. Inspiration is inevitable.
It's been a while since I finished listening but there is a scene in which Frida and Soli drive up to an archaeological dig on top of the mountain that has stuck with me. If I were to pick up a hard copy of the book I would look first seek for the poetry of this afternoon.
The political history of Stalin and Trotsky and how the U.S. ignored atrocities because it required Russia's help to defeat Hitler, and then later the horror of American life under the House on Un-American Activities was very well related her here in the eyes of personal experience an immensely enlightening. I have been dabbling in additional HUAC research since finishing The Lacuna.
I had trouble getting into the story. The chapters of Harrison's early life in Mexico were poetic but I found the slow pace of this childhood frustrating. The story picked up for me when he went to live with Diego and Frida and then I was hooked. By the end it made sense that the stories of his childhood need to be told but I almost wish they had come later as flashbacks or something rather than to make us wade through all that detail without any sense of where we were going.
Our protagonist is typically open to the void, letting the wind of life blow him along from one subtle adventure to the next, soaking himself in the color of the more pungent characters he encounters. We want to go back and spend more time with these people but the inertia of life keeps pushing forward.
The unlikely friendship between the protagonist and teen Yuki.
Degas's narration was very sensitive to this book's complex and troubled characters, conjuring the strange magic of Murakami's tangential worlds without sensationalizing or becoming too monotonous. The SheepMan voice freaked me out a little, but that's probably appropriate.
The one armed-poet perhaps?
I think the narrators did a tremendous job making the material palatable. The story frequently becomes tedious despite the consistently suspenseful structure and some really fantastic passages. And the dual narration really helps keep the story moving. The switches in voice are especially welcome as one character becomes grating.
The narrators help make these extreme people a little more plausible. I feel a little uncomfortable thinking people so selfish, scheming and dead inside really are walking around in the world.
I was really shaken first by Nick's commentary on the alienation of living in this derivative 21st century. Later, by Amy's description of the cool girl that men want women to be.
Even though I was pretty thoroughly sicked by all of the characters by the book's end, it is a very worthy read. I think I might get even more out of a second reading if I could stand the squeamishness.
I'm really enthralled with Zabuzhko's words but the aggressive narration has an unrelenting pissed off "slam" quality to it that I've found not only monotonous but weakening to the work in its tone of defensiveness.
I've been trying to listen to the story in spite of the narration, but suspect I'll have to find a text copy of the book in order to experience it with a clear mind.
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