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A Grega

word infatuated artist/writer seeking transcendence & transformation through story

Scranton, PA United States | Member Since 2011

3
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 7 reviews
  • 65 ratings
  • 169 titles in library
  • 35 purchased in 2014
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  • Amulet

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Roberto Bolaño
    • Narrated By Adriana Sananes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    A tour de force, Amulet is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America. Amulet is a monologue, like Bolaño's acclaimed debut in English, By Night in Chile. The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman who moved to Mexico in the 1960s, becoming the "Mother of Mexican Poetry", hanging out with the young poets in the cafés and bars of the University.

    A Grega says: "Read The Savage Detectives first"
    "Read The Savage Detectives first"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Amulet again? Why?

    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.


    Would you recommend Amulet to your friends? Why or why not?

    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.


    What about Adriana Sananes’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Antwerp

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 57 mins)
    • By Roberto Bolaño
    • Narrated By David Crommett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Written when he was only 27, Antwerp can be viewed as the Big Bang of Roberto Bolaño’s fictional universe. This novel presents the genesis of Bolano’s enterprise in prose; all the elements are here, highly compressed, at the moment when his talent explodes. From this springboard—which Bolaño chose to publish in 2002, twenty years after he’d written it (“and even that I can’t be certain of”)—as if testing out a high dive, he would plunge into the unexplored depths of the modern novel.

    A Grega says: "disappointing listen"
    "disappointing listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you try another book from Roberto Bolaño and/or David Crommett?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Roberto Bolaño’s story?

    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.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    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.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Zen of Recovery

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Mel Ash
    • Narrated By Kevin Young
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (12)

    Zen mind connects to the heart of recovery in this compelling blend of East and West. Courageously drawing from his lifetime of experience as an abused child, alcoholic, Zen student, and dharma teacher, author Mel Ash gives listeners a solid grounding in the Twelve Steps and the Eightfold Path and shows their useful similarities for those in recovery.

    A Grega says: "Useful bridge in early recovery"
    "Useful bridge in early recovery"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The Zen of Recovery rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Kevin Young – was your favorite?

    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.


    What insight do you think you’ll apply from The Zen of Recovery?

    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.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Lacuna

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Narrated By Barbara Kingsolver
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (838)
    Performance
    (326)
    Story
    (322)

    Born in the United States, but reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers and, one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed muralist Diego Rivera. When he goes to work for Rivera, his wife, exotic artist Kahlo, and exiled leader Lev Trotsky, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution.

    Tricia Stevens says: "Great story!"
    "more than the sum of its parts"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Lacuna to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dance, Dance, Dance

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Rupert Degas
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (546)
    Performance
    (251)
    Story
    (255)

    Quirky characters, a hotel with a phantom floor, sexy girls, rock music, especially Talking Heads - this gloriously imaginative romp around contemporary Japan defies description. A cult novelist with a huge international following, but also with a serious literary reputation, Haruki Murakami gains more fans with each book. Dance, Dance, Dance is one of his finest and most loved.

    Dr. says: "Another good listen from Murakami"
    "A quieter, more grounded Murakami"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to Dance, Dance, Dance again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The unlikely friendship between the protagonist and teen Yuki.


    What about Rupert Degas’s performance did you like?

    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.


    If you could take any character from Dance, Dance, Dance out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    The one armed-poet perhaps?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Gone Girl: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By Gillian Flynn
    • Narrated By Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (21013)
    Performance
    (18845)
    Story
    (18912)

    It is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

    Teddy says: "Demented, twisted, sick and I loved it!"
    "Suspenseful Distaste"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Gone Girl to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What does Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Oksana Zabuzhko, Halyna Hryn (translator)
    • Narrated By Angela Dawe
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Called “the most influential Ukrainian book for the 15 years of independence", Field Work in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko is the tale of one woman’s personal revolt. It provoked the top literary scandal of the decade. The novel was first published in Ukraine in 1996, unleashing a storm of controversy and propelling the author to national fame. It topped the bestseller list in Ukraine for more than ten years, making it the most successful Ukrainian-language book of the '90s in every regard.

    A Grega says: "Intriguing fiction; painful listen"
    "Intriguing fiction; painful listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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