Yes on H.G. Wells, of course. I cannot fault all three narrators; but one of them I will avoid forever.
They are familiar classics to all science fiction fans and it is great fun to exam them afresh and see "what's really there." Wells has a lot to say.
This Audiobook has some very curious and highly irritating flaws. Although Peter Batchelor, narrator of the "Moreau" and "Invisible Man" books, has a perfectly wonderful, deep announcer's voice, his speech patterns are halting and maddeningly irregular. Sentences are forever falling away into fragments like lost Lego blocks. Narrative rubato? I think not. It's just plain weird. It is possible, however, to get used to it. Self-hypnosis might help. And then, in "The Invisible Man," some mischievous hacker (I suspect) has added some isolated background screams here and there, with a truly comic effect. It's just got to be a college prank played on the recording company. Batchelor also mispronounces some words: "satyr" becomes "satire" for instance. The French word "rit" ("laugh") becomes "ritt."
George Eustice is much better on "The War of the Worlds," but there are very curious background noises going on, not unlike old tape recorders being rewound, and sharply noticeable audio splices occur over and over. Alan Munro's "The Time Machine" is the least troubled of the recordings.
For the money, it's great -- but the low price surely reflects the fact that the publisher knows there are some big problems here.
I think we have all seen the movies by now! "Island of Lost Souls" (1933) is my favorite, but Wells loathed it and never granted his approval on the script. It's fun to read the original story to find out why!
Essential classic stories; irritating and bizarre production problems
With all their scientific improbabilities and impossibilities, H.G. Wells' tales are nonetheless the fount of much of today's speculative fantasy fiction. This collection, a real bargain for the price (or so it seems to me) contains the first great writings about an invasion from outer space; new human species engineered through (immoral) scientific means; the possibility of time travel and the horrors the future may hold for Man; and the dangers of experimentation with drugs that might render you invisible and turn you into an evil megalomaniac.
Lots of this stuff is utterly ridiculous, but Wells's aims go well beyond fairytale musings. "The Island of Doctor Moreau" condemns vivisection and warns us that we may at any time lose our humanity and revert to our beastly natures: Wells's hero is very much like Gulliver, and Swift is Wells's model. "The War of the Worlds" is violent and horrible, but it is also satirical in its view of late 19th-century English society and its pretentions to world power. This book too is a caveat against our losing our humanity and becoming like the genocidal Martians. "The Time Machine," perhaps the best of the novels, sees a predatory and evil caste system lurking in the future, while "The Invisible Man" takes the ageless fantasy of invisibility into a overt statement about the way such a dream can corrupt the dreamer. This is Wells's least new idea: we see it as far back as Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus." Wagner and Tolkien also link invisibility to corrupted morality.
At any rate, these are essential science fiction stories.
Dostoevsky's novel is so rich in its moral complexities. It is also virtually double plotted and almost Dickensian in its narrative breadth and social consciousness. If one has read it before, one perhaps forgets that the axe murderer, Raskolnikov, and the detective, Porfiry Petrovich, are not the only characters. The large canvas includes the professionally licensed prostitute, Sonia; the child molester, Svidrigailov; the pompous manipulator, Luzhin; and the self loathing alcoholic, Marmelodov. The book abounds in fantastic scenes, some of them (as in the case of Katarina's dinner party) hilarious in a characterically dark Russian way.
It is endlessly thought provoking and richly detailed. I love the grotesque humor -- such as Raskolnikov's sister, Dunya, trying to shoot her tormentor at close range and repeatedly missing. But it is really the central hero's Superman complex that fascinates the most. And the fact it really takes him most of the novel to get over it.
Despite his ultra-dignified and impeccable English diction, Charlton Griffin cannot resist adopting an artificially modulated melodramatic tone, and his falsetto characterizations of the women make them all sound exactly like Mickey Mouse. If not Mickey, then Minnie. It is absolutely intolerable to this listener! It's like hearing Francis Flute the Bellows-Mender play Thisbe.
The book is grim with many strokes of black Russian humor. The fact that Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer gave him this novel to read in the Moscow Airport Transit zone is a joke worthy of a scene in Dostoevsky! The book's many comic moments -- in fact the whole ironic Russian mind-set that informs them -- go over most people's heads. I do not find anything in it moving. It's all grotesque. Look for something moving and sentimental stuff elsewhere. That said, Dunya and the charming student, Razumikhin, become a touching couple.
The novel is an essential masterpiece. The production is professionally done. But with all the narrator's women sounding like squeaking mice, you may want to scream and open a real book instead. By the way, that's Bartok being used for the occasional bits of music.
The author's distinctive voice and personality greatly enhance the listening experience. One could say that the reading is definitive.
It is not a story, of course, but an argument about how our nation has "drifted" far from its original ideals and has somewhat complacently settled into an acceptance of perpetual war. Often the hard facts of our national suffering and sacrifice are kept from us, and even more often we just do not see this or get involved.
"We'll all go together when we go." Perhaps that's too flippant, but Maddow does in fact evoke "Doctor Strangelove" in her final chapters.
Judging by the hate-filled comments about this book on some other websites, it would seem that all one has to say is "Rachel Maddow" and people of a certain political persuasion will begin foaming at the mouth. It's clear to me that they have most certainly not read "Drift," for Maddow's argument is clearly and logically presented, supported by facts and remarkably free of leftist ideology.
This is not to say that her distinctive brand of sarcasm is absent from the text, but her aim is not an attack on Republicans or Democrats, but at a generally misguided use and understanding of our military that transcends party lines. My only criticism would be that the book is not longer and more detailed. It is worthwhile for those who have forgotten all about it to revisit the absurd invasion of Granada and the immoral and illegal Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan years. And it will perhaps come as a surprise to many that several astounding near nuclear disasters have been avoided only by a miracle.
As Tom Brokow has said, this books is "a long overdue and provocative examination of the abuses, excesses and just plain foolish elements in our national security systems. These are issues that deserve our attention."
I very much wanted to like this book for several reasons: (1) I heard Andrew Imbrie's operatic treatment of the story during San Francisco Opera's "Spring Opera" season in 1976; (2) the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus has named their current 2011-2012 season "Angle of Repose" as a tribute to the author, Wallace Stegner; (3) it gets very good ratings in surveys of the best American books and is, in fact, #83 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels list. It even received a Pulitzer Prize.
Stegner is undeniably a fine prose stylist and the way he chooses to tell his story is rather complex and interesting, although this very narrative complexity undermined my willing suspension of disbelief. Everything is filtered through the imagination of a grouchy, socially reactionary scholar (who may or may not be a projection of Stegner) named Lyman Ward, who at age 60 is doing research on his grandmother, Susan, the long-suffering wife of a brave but congenital failure for whom nothing goes right in the wilds of California, Idaho, Colorado and Mexico in the late 1800's. Stegner has controversially "lifted" the actual letters of Mary Hallock Foote, the only authentic voice in the book. Her correspondence, quoted verbatim I am told, constitutes 10% of Stegner's finished novel. But then Lyman lets us know that he is inventing virtually everything else he tells us about his grandmother and grandfather, which for me, at least, creates an alienation effect I cannot quite overcome. The final dream sequence of the book is, I imagine, a metaphor for the whole thing. Interested readers are left to puzzle together how Lyman relates his broken marriage to the lasting bond of his grandparents.
I am especially interested in books that deal with women's issues and experiences, so I was moved by Susan's (Mary's) letters and the general tale of her fortitude raising a family and dealing with her husband in an environment so unlike that to which she would have liked to have been and could have been accustomed in the American East. The story itself, however, seems overly drawn out for the number of truly significant incidents that occur in it. The narrator, Lyman Ward, also lacked appeal for me, perhaps because I was a member of that very UC Berkeley generation he so continually disapproves of. A contrast between the current times and the past favor the heroism of the latter.
I was frequently extremely irritated by the reader, Mark Bramhall, who would be just fine if he did not adopt an absurd, breathy falsetto when reading Susan's words. She sounds more like a whining child than a mature woman. Oliver Ward comes off as sounding unpleasantly growly. But, my hat's off to these Audiobook readers; and I cannot imagine the challenges of reciting this long book out loud.
My only annoyance with the otherwise superb narrator was his tendency, when creating a variety of national accents, to make all Americans sound like idiots. Naturally, with a book this long, it was a pleasure to sit passively or attend to the third-person narrative while walking. Yes, it's a third-person narrative: Rushdie refers to himself as 'he" -- meaning, of course, his adopted persona whilst hiding from the fatwa assassins as Joseph Anton.
Rushdie rarely flatters himself and frequently reveals his weaknesses. As far as food for thought is concerned, the whole memoir seems like a metaphor for a world stripped of logic and common sense. It's a theater of the absurd, potentially and often actually tragic. Men and women act on unreasoned fears, they are victimized by their prejudices and ignorance, and almost nobody knows what's going on or what they are talking about.
The book also chills the spine with its enormous specter of religious fanaticism.
And for those who believe the victim is too often blamed for the crime, this is wonderful fuel for your argument.
Balzac's powers of description are amazing -- and the characters are memorable.
Without doubt the young student Eugène de Rastignac, an attractive but misguidedly ambitious young man -- whose last name has actually entered the French language as a synonym for an opportunistic social climber -- an "arriviste." Rastignac wrestles with his own moral conscience as he manipulates people to achieve his social ends.
I found the book to be utter torture, but it is superbly read on NAXOS by Nicholas Boulton. I listened all the way to the bitter end only because I did not want to dismiss a work so highly praised (it's on many 100 Best Novel lists) without reading all of it. Otherwise I found it a waste of time. The characters are utterly shallow and uninteresting: they often seem like literary projections of adolescent sexual fantasies. The prose is laden with so many clichés that the printed book, if indexed, could serve as a list of sentences and expressions for authors to avoid. As a character, only the central figure of the magus himself is interesting, but when all the views of him are finally assembled, they add up to zero. Fowles himself probably didn't know what he was getting at. The entire book is full of pseudo profundities. The '60s were the breeding ground for hollow genius.
I imagine "The Magus" is his weakest work -- at least I hope so! It will be a long time before I am tempted to read "The Collector" and/or "The French Lieutenant's Woman." "The Magus" seems produced for a youthful '60s audience easily beguiled by fathomless mysteries and psychedelic nonsense. There are some striking moments (the passages dealing with the Nazis on the Greek island), but nothing adds up in the end. Watching "The Magus" movie, BTW, is an interesting way to compound one's irritation. Fowles himself wrote the dreadful screenplay which does not match the book in hundreds of important ways.
The man is superb -- getting all the characters' accents clearly distinguished from one another, and reading with conviction. He seems unfazed by passages in foreign languages.
I would rather hear him read this to me than to have to sit still with the book itself.
Yes. I will forever avoid 100 Best lists! I think this novel made it because a generation of LSD stoned English students ended up teaching in college lit departments. Then they got to vote on their favorite novels.
I think you can love this book if you are very young, your hormones are raging and you can project your amorous fantasies onto the characters. It also helps to be fond of detective stories -- although this mystery has no definite resolution. "The Magus" is pulp fiction at its core, but it pretends to be high art.
George Eliot must be one of the most gorgeous prose stylists who ever wrote in English. Her psychological insights are astounding. But just looking at the many pages and the small print in the book itself is daunting -- so it's lovely to have it read to you by a first-rate reader.
I think the brilliant novels of Edith Wharton -- especially "The House of Mirth." But, because of the complex double- and triple-plotting, something by Dickens is probably the closest match. To me Eliot is superior to Dickens.
Stevenson is a superb reader, but I think her male voices are a bit exaggerated and often do not fit my visual image of the characters. Her female voices (surprise!) are the most effective. This temptation of readers to "act" everything out is often more of a distraction than an asset.
The entire saga of Dorothea Casaubon is a moving feminist statement, but Eliot carefully balances this with the saga of the young doctor, Tertius Lydgate. The plotting is amazingly good.
One of the great books in English. Belongs on a Top Ten list.
This is the best of the series of seven books now known as Proust's "In Search of Lost Time." Unfortunately, only five of the seven volumes have beed recorded on NAXOS in an unabridged form. The series will be completed soon, I imagine, but the main frustration altogether resides in the sad fact that after all is completed, it will be of an outdated translation by Scott Moncrieff which, however excellent and widely celebrated, is inferior in some ways to the brand new translations published in England by PENGUIN BOOKS (General Editor Christopher Pendergast) and which, because of a US Random House copyright, are NOT FOR SALE [at least the last four volumes are not] in the United States. One has to explore various Internet bookstores to find them in this country. Furthermore, the audiobook is the UNCORRECTED C.K. Scott Moncrieff version which was famously brought up to date several years ago. Sigh! So, as good as this recording is, MR NEVILLE JASON is exhausting himself on outdated material -- 2,500,000 words of it before he is finished. One notes that the first audiobook in the series is called THE REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST for which the newer translation is given as IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME. Right away the reader sees the problem. However, this book -- THE GUERMANTES WAY -- is wonderful to listen to, and some generation (my grandmother's perhaps) was delighted with this translation which -- indeed -- was the only one in English and made the book famous in the English speaking world.
The book is packed with memorable incidents. The "classy" party scenes, of course, are always to be looked forward to since Proust's commentary is hilariously satirical. Most people do not realize that Proust can be very, very funny -- and in a very cutting manner as well.
This man is SUPERB -- and he makes everything totally comprehensible. Long Proustian sentences I cannot figure out when reading them on paper come over with total clarity and sense.
Yes. I am 71 years old and am thrilled to be reading this masterpiece at long last. I am glad I skipped it in my 20s and 30s, however; it's far too cynical in its world views. Nothing is as it seems at first! I would have been disillusioned for my entire life! Proust turns the world upside down. And did I say there's an awful lot of sex in it? Nobody warned me about that.
I am delighted with the recording -- but sorry the newer translations will likely not be recorded in my lifetime. Proust is easier to listen to than to read, so the audiobook is a blessing. I did, by the way, order the new print translations from England and have had fun comparing them with this one.
The narrator understands what he is saying and superbly navigates his way through Proust's endless sentences.
The dipping of the cake into the tea, of course. That is the "most memorable" because everybody who has head about the book knows about that scene already -- and almost nothing else about the 2,500,000 words in "In Search of Lost Time."
All are superb and not to be forgotten.
Surely you jest! It's very, very long.
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