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Fatastic story of Rinella's hunt for a buffalo in Alaska (he won a permit to do so), interspersed with facts, fiction and musings about the buffalo and their meanings for the prehistoric, native and Euro-Americans who have come into contact with them.
The narration, when speaking in Rinella's voice, is fine - but this is one narrator who should perhaps avoid accents - whether French, German or any other.
Excellent exploration of the human psyche - both our personality and our soul. The concepts, ideas and stories provide great insight into life's struggles - and have, for me, been helpful in addressing some of the bigger questions in life.
Why just short of five stars? A work like this will always include some mystical notes. Mostly I am OK with that - but just occasionally I felt that the writing went a little too far in that direction, and it became a bit disorienting. At those moments it felt as though I had lost a sense of what the point was, almost like having a mild case of vertigo.
This is not a book for the conventionally-minded, and I recommend that if you are at all a fundamentalist (or are dependent on the certainties that much of what religion preaches), you should just skip it. He has a definite opinion of religious fundamentalism, and it's not a kind one.
Also, if you are wedded to the material values of mainstream culture, this book may not be for you - no kind words there, either.
But if you are willing to start with doubt about the easy answers that our culture provides, or you find that you've begun to doubt them, then this book may help you on your journey.
Neil Gaiman's best works are ostensibly about the supernatural, and this is no exception. The worlds and the characters he creates are truly magical, and that is reason enough to read and savor his books. But that's not all.
I realized this when listening to The Ocean at the End of the Lane. His books are also about the exploration of the psyche -
American Gods - a story about a man who doesn't know who he is.
Anansi Boys - a story about a man who is incomplete, because he believes he is incomplete.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - a story about a man who cannot remember the most important thing about his own past.
Each is the story of a man searching to become whole.
Douglas Adams, reading excerpts from the Hitchhiker's Guide! Well, it's only a few excerpts, and he occasionally stables (slightly) in his reading. Still, great to hear to how he expresses some of the dialog and portrays some of his own characters. Plus, there are a couple of asides that provide some context about things in the books (avoiding possible spoilers!).
Dirk Gently is another great Adams character, and the situations (though set on Earth) are as absurd as anything in The Hitchhiker's Guide. I give it only four stars overall simply because it's abridged - I want more!
Normally, I wouldn't even think of buying an abridged audiobook, but this is Douglas Adams - read by the author. So for me that makes all the difference.
OK - those are strong words, and there really has been a lot of great writing in the last 50 years (I did say "possibly"). But the combination of imaginative genius, over-the-top humor and just enough philosophical thought makes H2G2 a true standout. The radio plays predated the published books, and were my first exposure to Douglas Adams in the early 1980s - they remain the best way to experience The Hitchhiker's Guide.
There are only a few audio books that I return to and listen a second time. H2G2 is an audio book that I am moved to listen to at least every two years. Basically, I'd be lost without the Guide... If I could give it six stars, I would.
P.S. Years after I fell in love with the books, I learned that Adams had been a script writer and editor for the BBC's Doctor Who, and that he was a friend of Richard Dawkins - he introduced Lalla Ward (who played Romana on Doctor Who) to Dawkins, they subsequently married. Lalla Ward co-narrates Dawkins' audio books, which I also recommend. That serves to illustrate "the interconnectedness of all all things" (which is something you'll come upon in another of Adams' books - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
See my review of "The Primary Phase" for my glowing - nay, gushing - endorsement of the H2G2 radio plays.
This radio series starts at the offices of the Hitchhiker's Guide, where something is definitely amiss, and ends with a visit to the ruler of the universe - an old man, who's trying to feed his cat a bit of fish. It's as wild a ride as the Primary Phase, and was broadcast beginning in December, 1978 (months after the Primary Phase had been broadcast).
Really great stuff!
This is one of the most superficial books I've ever read or listened to. Far from providing insight on becoming a life coach (and whether you should consider it as a profession), this book provides trite advice on marketing yourself and establishing yourself in the field - advice that anyone could figure out without this book. I consider it to be a fraud.
I really love the novels of John le Carre, especially the Karla series. This may be le Carre's best work - better even than the Karla novels. The vertiginous manipulations, the moral ambiguities, the uncomfortable compromises made by the protagonist Alec Leamas, make this a gripping story with existential reverberations, even 50 years after it was first published.
If the ending of "Smiley's People" is a victory with chilling implications for the human soul, then the ending of this novel is a crushing defeat with hopeful inspiration for the individual. Nothing is ever as it seems in le Carre's best work, and that is doubly true here.
One note: even though it's listed as part of the Smiley series, George Smiley is barely even a minor character in this book - more of a shadowy emanation, and one which hints at another side of his identity.
The facts and information in this book was interesting and in many ways fascinating. It was not always completely clear where the book was heading, until I reached the very end.
Then I understood: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John, 8:32.
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