so, i really really really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. read by dustin hoffman (great performance), it tells the story of Chance the gardener...who is mistakenly taken to be a brilliant financial, political and literary genius....but is really a gardener. a gardener who cannot read, or write, or really socially interact with people in any normal way.
it was a short (just over 2 hours on audio) book...and it made me laugh and smile the entire time i listened to it.
it basically a satire, turning an eye on how the media, political figures and the rich can be so foolish and fooled. relevant today as it was in the 70's when it was written...
i highly recommend listening to the audio book. it really did make it even better than just reading the physical book.
(ps. i had no idea that this was a film w/ peter sellers, where he was nominated for an oscar. need to go rent that NOW)
wow this book was disturbing. and it was beautiful at the same time. every time i put my iphone down, i couldn't stop thinking about it. i wanted to just listen to it nonstop so that i could be done with it. but in a good way.
i know that sounds weird.
let me try again. this story was so...real. the way that this father describes his life, his love, his daughter. his life and love for his daughter. it's so true, so real. there are moments that i was reading this and i couldn't feel more connected to the narrator.
then there were moments where i was so appalled by him. and upset, horrified, disgusted. i got angry at myself for feeling empathetic a few moments before.
as i said in the title, this is an amazing and disturbing read at the same time...i loved it.
this was my first jonathan tropper book..not sure where i've been. but now i know what i've been missing. there were some great great one liners in this book. so many that i found myself bookmarking an over abundance of pages...with multiple marks on each page. by the time i got 1/3 of the way in, i stopped bothering...realizing that the entire novel was basically mark worthy.
judd, the narrator, was relatable in a depressing sort of way. self depricating, lost, sorry and sad...and speaking the voice of my generation. ramon de ocampo had the perfect voice to display the inner workings of judd...snarky and sad at the same time.
i laughed a lot, i also cringed a lot. the true-ness of the way tropper writes is at the same time eye opening and also upsetting.
so, this family was nothing like mine...but i don't care. they are obviously all caricatures. each one more deliberately miserable, discontented, and awful to each other....then alternately sensitive and loving in a way that reminds you of relationships you wish you had. anyway, all of this just contributes to the greatness of this story. it makes for a truly interesting dynamic filled with laughable and poignant interactions...all topped off by judd's truly insightful punch lines.
i could easily see this novel being turned into a film...hope that actually happens.
oh how i love the unreliable narrator. the narrator who at first, you kind of like, laughing at his jokes, agreeing with his commentary. the narrator you feel compassion for -- his story and opinions. the narrator that throws everything on it's head as the story progresses and makes you feel almost angry at yourself for feeling the way you did in the beginning of the novel. when the truth is actually laid out there and you see what he was saying all along.
clive mantle does a great job with this narration.
this book is DARK. i mean...like....really really dark. in a long while i haven't read anything this shocking. its full of people you won't like...full of scenes you won't ever want to read again (and won't soon forget).
i think the pacing of this novel was really well done. to use a food metaphor (this is "the dinner" after all), the unfolding of each layer of the onion brings out new facts, new understandings, and therefor new questions. there was a perfect amount of the "now" and the "before". a perfect amount of insight, introduced course by course.
***one thing i will say is that this book is NOTHING like Gone Girl. i dont know why so many people are comparing the two. i mean, i've read no less then 5 books in the past year that have so called 'twist' endings...and none of them can be compared to one another. so...if you liked GG, you may not like this...and if you hated GG, you may still love this -- so don't take that comparison as your judge. just read it.***
what a fantastic adventure this book was. though it clocks at close to 1000 pages, i didn't feel that the book was labored at all. i really enjoyed every single second of it. tom stechschulte's narration only benefited the story...he was fantastic with every single character's voice and spirit.
the main characters, swan, josh, sister, roland are all just fantastic. they are so richly written...their history is brought into their present...they make sense as characters. and they make sense in relation to each other.
i am a big fan of a book that is written as separate stories...all intertwined and leading to the same path. it was like i could envision the physical paths moving across the united states -- waiting for all three stories to finally connect and reveal the climax of the story.
i'm also a big fan of post apocalyptic stories...especially ones that mix fantasy and magic and demons into it.
i was never disappointed in the outcome of each and every metaphorical (and literal) mountain that these characters had to climb....we lose some characters that we don't really want to lose. and some characters end up surprising us in the end.
i'm not sure how i missed this novel for so long. i mean, it was written in the 80's! why did i not know it existed?
bottom line here is -- this is not a grand work of literary fiction that will change your outlook on life -- but it is one hell of a good story about a band of great characters surviving in the world after the world as we know it (or knew it in the 80's) ends.
i really wanted to love this book. i set myself up to rave about it....but i just can't. based on all the reviews i have read (here, on goodreads and otherwise), this book seemed to have all the makings of a story i would love. fantasy, female narrator, gothic horror and the promise of an incredibly talented author.
Caitlin Kiernan is a talented author. this much is true. there are words and paragraphs and portions of this novel that are so beautifully written they begged to be framed as art. but then there were parts that were so...so...hmmm.
let me try to explain.
Imp could be an interesting narrator, but the fact that you never quite know (because of her schizophrenia) what is reality and what is fiction gets quite tiresome very quickly in this novel...an element that never sat right with me -- and never gets resolved. the novel ends in ambiguity with more questions than answers...and not that i need a neat and tidy ending, but i would like to feel some sort of resolution or growth or something that makes me feel like the book ended where it should have ended.
some of Imp's ramblings are so difficult to pick apart and understand, it is frustrating. i dont want to be tired after reading a novel. not to say i don't like reading a difficult book. look at how American Gods left me...thats a difficult book that i found immensely satisfying. but this book felt like all work with no payoff. again, i just felt that i was left with nothing at the end. just confusion and sadness and i was actually rather annoyed. maybe if i had read the physical book instead of listening to this it would have been more manageable?
final note -- no real likeable characters in this. including Imp. i wanted so much to like her. really i did. but i just couldn't.
there is a lot of folk lore and fairy tale in this book, which i did enjoy...but as i said, those portions were few and far between, and couldn't hold the rest of the book up on their unsteady stilts.
I bought this book based on all the amazing reviews I've heard about this book. Didn't find it as suspenseful, exciting or even well written as I'd anticipated. I think the concept was so good, but the book didn't deliver.
The mystery was easy to figure out. I knew "whodunnit" not far into the story...and i was sadly disappointed that i was right. it's so much better when as a reader your original guess is twisted and turned on it's head so that you are surprised. i was never surprised when listening to this.
Cathy Marie Buchanan really knows how to write an emotional novel. i love the way she weaves her tales around real historical facts...finding all the information about the "real life" characters hers are based on is almost as exciting as the story itself.
Buchanan is so imaginative...and her characters are extremely easy to love with your entire heart. Bess is another poignant narrator with whom i have empathy for and also admire. everything she did for her love, her family, her beliefs (or lack thereof) was exactly what i would have done. at least, as i listened to this, i wished that.
the use of the falls (niagra falls) was extremely well done. as the story went on, i had the feeling i was living there...and that i, too, relied on the falls to hold up my town, my families livelihood, etc.
Karen White was a perfect narrator for this book. she had amazing emotion that came through in her reading. i felt like Bess herself had come to life and was reading her story to me.
i really enjoyed this. not quite as much as The Painted Girls...but really really close.
i thoroughly enjoyed the writing of Richard Ford. i am a big fan of repetition in a novel to elicit emotion and create a mood. well, when it's done well...and i think that Ford does it well.
i struggled at first with the naivety of Dell as a teenager..i mean, he was supposed to be 15 years old and he seemed, at times, like he was 7 or 8. but as the story goes on, i understand that this was the way that Ford meant for his character to be written. he was supposed to be extremely immature...i also remember that this story takes place in the 60's...not now. and i think that children were more naive back then. but it still frustrated me and served to make me dislike Dell more than i think i was supposed to.
anyway, there were also parts of this book i did not understand....bits of Dell and his sister's relationship didn't make sense and disturbed me, sometimes the feelings Dell had for his father were a mystery. but once he made it to Canada...i think this story got really interesting. the characters in Canada were very well written.
so...while the great American novel this is not...i do think that Ford has a great manner of telling a story and i would read another book of his.
i think Therese Plummer narrated this just fine. but the book itself couldn't be saved by a good narrator.
so, kevin wilson writes really well. simple but lovely prose, with just enough emotion. the relationship between buster and annie was very intense and touching and beautiful. annie was a great character...truly and understandably f'ed up...and very interesting in the way that great characters are. i think that her character would have been so much better in a different story -- then i think -- if she wasn't in this story, she wouldn't be who she is -- then i think i'm thinking too much about it, so i stop.
anyway...there are also some struggles i had with this story. i truly disliked camille and caleb fang. so much. from the first moment i read about them. it was so difficult for me to embrace them as characters. they were unbelievable. they were loathsome. the art they produced was dumb. and i don't think that they, as written in this story, would have gotten to the level of popularity that they achieved in this story. i also think that the "resolution" with caleb and camille towards the end of the book is very abrupt and i don't understand it at all.
overall, the story is well written...and i guess it evokes emotion in me and so that it's successful in that way, but i didn't actually enjoy listening to it.
as i previously mentioned, i think Tana French is a great author. this book is no exception, its the third in her Dublin Murder Squad Series...and it delivers exactly what i wanted.
i was a big fan of Frank Mackey in French's previous book...so pulling him out as the main character in Faithful Place was a smart move. i was riveted by his family -- how they related to each other (or didn't) -- and how they protected their secrets to the end.
i never thought i would be a fan of a series of books like this one. but this is one set of detective mysteries that has really drawn me in, and i attest that to French's great writing.
i think she especially writes dialogue really well. it's realistic, intense and exciting.
onto Broken Harbor.
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