This is one of the best books I've read/listened to all year. Skloot paints a compassionate, 3-dimensional portrait of a person, her family and an era. The subject matter is beyond belief and will have you with your jaw on the floor several times over. You'll be in awe and horror. You'll be touched, you'll cry. You'll be indignant. You'll be inspired. The story focuses mainly on Deborah- the daughter of Henrietta Lacks. This greatly humanizes what could otherwise be a dry, bioethics case-study. I can't recommend this book highly enough-- you will learn so much.
I keep hearing about how great Franzen is . . . so I gave this book a try. Not for me. I came away unable to care less about his characters, their sordid affairs, and his cynical perspective on American culture.
Granted, the book can't be too bad because it's about an interesting story. But for all that, it could have been both written and narrated in a much more interesting, gripping fashion. First of all, I disliked the narration. I found the pace a bit too quick and monotone to keep my attention.
That aside, the story-telling is more or less chronological, sacrificing artful construction of the narrative, which could have been more compelling. So we wade through hours of scene setting, discussing every executive and minor player along the way. The meat of the story and main event comes much later in the book. Also, the book references quite frequently the Letterman/Leno debacle-- without fully exploring or explaining it. I still don't understand how Leno is to blame for that situation. So, all in all, I think there were opportunities to tell a better, more interesting story. But, on the other hand, all the details are there! You'll know a ton about minor players and minutiae.
I don't think the above comments should keep any Leno/Conan fans from getting the book. The story sells itself. But it sure could have been better crafted/told.
Fascinating book for runners and non-runners alike. For the former-- seriously inspirational and motivational. For all--full of gripping characters, a great story-line, interesting scientific/evolutionary explanations for humans and their need to run. All around, multi-faceted, excellent story-telling. You won't be able to stop listening.
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