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Bruce Herr

Santa Fe, New Mexico | Member Since 2005

8
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 23 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2014
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  • Such, Such Were the Joys and Other Essays

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (20)

    Viewed as too libelous to print in England until 1968, the title essay in this collection reveals the abuse Orwell experienced as a child at an expensive and snobbish boarding school and offers insights into his lifelong concern for the oppressed. "Why I Write" describes Orwell's sense of political purpose, and the classic essay "Politics and the English Language" insists on clarity and precision in communication in order to avoid the Newspeak later described in 1984.

    Christopher says: "Superb collection of essays, very well read"
    "Frequent skips make listening difficult"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This would be a four or five-star book, if it were not for the inexcusable and frequent skips in the second half of the production, which are not only disconcerting, but sometimes make it difficult to follow the narration. This edition should be withdrawn and the production remastered or re-narrated.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7357)
    Performance
    (6744)
    Story
    (6750)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "Superb narration!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I will let the hundreds of other reviews speak to the book itself. I want to review the narration by David Pittu, which is superb. His pacing, his slightly gravelly voice, and his consistent and spot-on handling of dialogue are outstanding. I've been listening to audio books for over twenty years, and this is one of the best performances I've heard.

    OK, two comments about the book itself: good but not great. A great book would have eliminated the final thirty minutes or so of moralizing and let the listener draw her own conclusions about the deeper meanings. And as many other reviewers have commented, shorter would have been better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Edgar Allan Poe - The Complete Short Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Edgar Allan Poe
    • Narrated By Bob Thomley
    Overall
    (364)
    Performance
    (310)
    Story
    (321)

    All of Edgar Allan Poe’s great short stories in one 16-hour collection.

    Julia says: "A rare treat."
    "A Mixed Bag of Poe"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This production is a mixed bag.

    Contents: This is not a "complete" collection of Poe's short stories, but it does cover the highlights. It is accompanied by a helpful downloadable .pdf file listing the contents.

    Subject Matter: If you like Poe, this is a representative collection of his best-known works. IMHO, Poe hasn't aged well. His preoccupation with beautiful women, death, and the macabre seems tame and predictable by today's standards. But these stories paved the way for much that came later, including Sherlock Holmes and the Gothic horror genre. A few of the tales are humorous, but the humor plays off particular mid-nineteenth-century preoccupations and interests, and seems dated and forced.

    Performance: The narration is poor. I suspect that this is an old production made during the early days of audio books. I agree with other reviewers who note that the narrator frequently mispronounces words, both foreign and English. I disagree with the reviewers who think the narrator has an appropriate style -- I thought he was overly dramatic and florid. I think the horror and surprise of these stories could have been better conveyed by underplaying, rather than overplaying, the drama.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burgess Boys: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Cassandra Campbell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (517)
    Performance
    (441)
    Story
    (446)

    Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.

    Susianna says: "Some Secrets Shouldn't be Kept"
    "A debacle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What disappointed you about The Burgess Boys?

    Unlikeable characters, poorly thought out plot (really none, at all), banal writing, melodramatic reading.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    American Pastoral


    Would you be willing to try another one of Cassandra Campbell’s performances?

    Only if the book was well written


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    None. Really a waste of time.


    Any additional comments?

    I read this on faith because Olive Kitteridge was so good. Ms Strout should stick to what she does best—short stories.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Blue Hotel, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, and The Open Boat: Three Famous Short Stories by Stephen Crane

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Stephen Crane
    • Narrated By Deaver Brown
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    These are Stephen Crane's three most famous short stories. He also wrote others of great value, but these are the ones that stand out the most. Each one has themes relating to life, death, random acts, danger, and delight. This audiobook is the place to start for newcomers to Crane. This recording contains forwards and afterwords that can be listened to or skipped over per listener preference.

    Bruce Herr says: "Poor Narration Spoils Classic Stories"
    "Poor Narration Spoils Classic Stories"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The three stories included in this collection are classic examples of nineteenth century American realism. The narration, however, is awful -- among the worst I have heard in over twenty years of listening to audio books. This is not your typical audio book. It includes an informal introduction and afterword to each story, as if the narrator were teaching a high school literature class. The narration itself contains mispronunciations, halts, stumbles, lack of inflection, and incorrect emphasis. It doesn't appear to have been edited. The narrator comments that he has changed some of the text of the stories to make them easier to listen to, and states that he has left in some of the stumbles to illustrate the differences between the audio and the written versions. The entire production seems amateur.


    Would you recommend The Blue Hotel, The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, and The Open Boat to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would recommend the stories, but not this version. All of these stories are available on audible.com with other narrators.


    What didn’t you like about Deaver Brown’s performance?

    Just about everything.


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

    I was disappointed. The narration was so bad that I found myself focusing on it instead of the stories.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Kristin Kimball
    • Narrated By Tavia Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (248)
    Performance
    (216)
    Story
    (220)

    Single, 30-something, and working as a writer in New York City, Kristin Kimball was living life as an adventure. But she was beginning to feel a sense of longing for a family and for home. When she interviewed a dynamic young farmer, her world changed. Kristin knew nothing about growing vegetables, let alone raising pigs and cattle and driving horses. But on an impulse, smitten, if not yet in love, she shed her city self and moved to 500 acres near Lake Champlain to start a new farm with him.

    Roberta says: "That's what organic farming is all about"
    "I walked in her Carthartt boots..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ... as I listened to this book. This gifted writer made me feel, smell, taste, touch her new experiences as she transforms her life from urban sophisticate to farmer. Humorous and elegaic, a pure delight. The reader, Tavia Gilbert, gives perfect voice to this story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Just Kids

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Patti Smith
    • Narrated By Patti Smith
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (717)
    Performance
    (619)
    Story
    (612)

    Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late 60s and 70s and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

    Rick says: "Exceptional. Deeply honest and thoughtful."
    "Touching and authentic"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even if Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are peripheral or unknown to you, this history of the life and times of these two artists will overpower you with its richness, gentleness and authenticity. Smith is a true poet-storyeller and her resonant voice, her gift of language, her honesty, even her accent create a powerful remembrance. This is a perfect book to read by ear. It is one of the best I have ever heard.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Modern Instance

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By William Dean Howells
    • Narrated By Flo Gibson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    The turbulent marriage of philanderer, opportunist, and dishonest journalist Bartley Hubbard and naive, possessive Mary Gaylord ends in divorce. At the time of its publication, this socially realistic novel was considered daring for its handling of the divorce question.

    Alicia says: "a timeless topic"
    "Good book, poor quality recording"
    Overall

    The book itself is a good piece of 19th century American realism. The quality of the recording, however, is poor. The narrator has peculiar inflections that take some getting used to; even worse, the technical quality of the recording is poor -- every 45 minutes the quality of the recording alternately deteriorates and improves -- I suspect this comes from the original tape version of the narration. The book should be re-narrated, or at least the recording re-mastered.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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