Superb Spark book. Early-ish in her career, so not quite so grim as her later ones. Each character, large or small, drawn with clarity and interest, and all set against the background of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. A bit of a spy mystery thrown in as well. Not to mention crime. Such an amazing accomplishment. The narration is perfect, too.
This is beautifully written and beautifully read. The characters stand out, even some relatively minor one. My only complaint? I just didn't believe the ending. I feel like the author lost her nerve. Or some publisher made her pretty it up, as has happened to so many authors going back to Dickens.
No plot spoilers here, but my parents were both from the deep south, and I was born in Florida in 1955. I was in elementary school, in Montgomery Alabama. When it was announced that Bobby Kennedy had died, the middle school and high school students in the building next door ran cheering from the doors, as the black janitor lowered the flag.
NO WAY would ALL the outcomes, personal and communal, have been this benign.
BUT THE BOOK IS STILL a brilliant exposition of a place and time. I had goosebumps at various dialectical expressions, and boy oh boy were some of my Alabama relatives close cousins to some of these characters. Well worth reading.
On the plus side, I usually don't enjoy authors reading their own books, but MC is great! He embodies the different characters beautifully. Less happy, however, is the sense I walked away with that this was pretty slap-dash, over all, as if Mr Chabon just dashed it off. Just because a world is fantastical does not mean that it must lack coherence. This one needed a really good edit, or three.
It's such a dilemma. Jonathan Cecil does a far better job reading the PSmith books, but the Frederick Davidson recordings have much better sound quality. Davidson presents PSmith as if he is essentially a wordier Bertie Wooster. His tone is all snide-ness and knowing. But PSmith is a far more intelligent, and a far FROM hapless, creature. He is stylish, to be sure, and somewhat affected, but more-than-perfectly competent. Cecil nails the tone, and in his various readings, makes each of the two characters clear, and different. I'm going back to the Cecil.
Stunning narration by Richard Poe. Restrained but not unemotional. The book lags in places, speeds up the wrong way in others--pacing in fact is the only major issue. But the unusual characters and mythic nature of the story more than make up for the flaws. One strong edit and this could have been a five-star!
The first story in this collection is beautifully translated and narrated. However the narrator for the second story has such a heavy accent and the recording quality is so poor that the piece is
VERY difficult to understand.
Clearly, by this point in the franchise, Wodehouse was getting tired. The plot is even more than usually derivative, and nothing new really happens.
Some lovely moments, but not essential.
Profane, shocking, strange, but once I settled in, very moving.
These stories are bleak, but compelling. I completely believed in every character, young or old, male or female.
The reading is utterly suitable.
There were a few loose ends, a result, perhaps of the structure, but the book is worth it even if you only listen to the final story.
Authors should almost NEVER read their own fiction. I couldn't distinguish the characters during dialogue, and in general was unimpressed with the reading as a whole.
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