This is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite audiobooks. It was also Bellow's own favorite among the books he had written. The Modern Library lists it as number 21 of the 100 all time best novels. Such a shame that it's so little known!
Eugene Henderson is rich, middle-aged, and a man of great physical strength who views himself as an utter failure. He can't escape the voice he hears crying out incessantly within him: I want ... I want ... . The problem is, he can't figure out what it is he wants! So off he goes to Africa (maybe he can find out there) where he winds up being anointed the Rain King in a remote village.
The book is absolutely astonishing in its inventiveness and creativity. It is at once philosophical, gripping and hilarious. Henderson is one of the most memorable characters I have ever had the good pleasure of meeting in literature. I was laughing out loud with sheer joy throughout the book.
Joe Barret establishes himself as one of the very best audio readers ever with this recording in my opinion (and I've listened to a lot of audiobooks over the past 25 years!) I've heard Joe Barret do Bonfire of the Vanities and also a Paul Auster novel, but here he outdoes himself. Mr. Barret virtually becomes Henderson. The man should get an award for this reading!!
Years ago I came across an abridged audio version narrated by Tom Skerrit and have been hoping for an unabridged version ever since. Thanks to Audible's Modern Vanguard Series for making it happen.
I had never heard of this book but was so intrigued by the description (also the description at Amazon) that I decided to give it a try. It is a masterpiece -- one of the great novels of the 20th century. (So why hadn't I ever heard of it?) It's the story of a farmboy who attends the University of MO to study agriculture and falls in love with literature and becomes a professor of English literature at the same school. The book spans World War I & II. The story is almost emotionally devasastating but the author writes with such restraint -- showing not telling -- that the power is heightened all the more. Concealed art at its finest. I couldn';t put it down. Not boring for a moment. The narrator, Robin Field, is spot on perfect for this book. Great, great stuff.
I discovered Thomas Merton when I came upon Seeds of Contemplation while browsing in the stacks of a Library during the early years of my spiritual journey. He has been a spiritual companion and guide ever since. No Man is an Island is the sequel to Seeds of Contemplation. The titles of the reflections will give you a good taste of the content:
1. Love Can Only Be Kept By Being Given Away
2. Sentences On Hope
3. Conscience, Freedom and Prayer
4. Pure Intention
5. The Word of the Cross
6. Asceticism and Sacrifice
7. Being and Doing
9. The Measure of Charity
13. My Soul Remembered God
14. The Wind Blows Where It Pleases
15. The Inward Solitude
These are quite simply some of the most profound spiritual reflections I have ever read by any author from any period of history. Sentences On Hope is the finest exposition of the true meaning of hope, a subject of special interest to me, that I have ever read. The Word of the Cross is a stunning exposition of the meaning and use of suffering. The final chapter, Silence, is rapturous (I use the word advisedly). These reflections can be read and re-read. The sheer weight of the insight contained warrants many readings and many returns. The book is a gem.
The narration is good.
I have long wished Audible would offer for books of serious spiritual literature, especially from the Catholic Tradition. They seem to be moving in that direction. Thanks, Audible, for making such a fine volume available.
Swann's Way is the first of Marcel Proust's seven volume work, In Search of Lost Time, a novelistic exploration of the meaning of time and memory. It is jaw-dropping literary artistry on the level of Shakespeare or Dante. Proust's powers of description are unsurpassable. So sensuous are his descriptions, that I felt like I was walking through the Impressionist wing of an art museum, captivated by one painting after another. His description of a church, inside and out, culminating in the steeple, is serene and stunning; a religious experience just to read. Then there is his description of a flower garden. And the moon. Of special interest is his description of a phrase of music. Though entirely fictional, one feels one knows the piece. No one before or since has described music and the experience of music in memory like Proust. The narrator's description of being kissed goodnight by his mother was so moving and so deeply nostalgic. And then there was the description of his bedroom which seemed to change form as he opened and shut his eyes at night. And then of course throughout the whole is the description, or rather the portrayal, of the inner workings of the author/narrator's mind. I was totally captivated by this audiobook and look forward to the next volumes as they are released.. The narration was superb. Thanks to audible for making this available.
Brilliant. Brilliant. And again I say brilliant. Scintillating insight. Gem-like clarity. Relentless unmasking of illusions. This book is said to be highly admired by President Obama; nevertheless, it is politically uncategorizable. In spite of its brevity, impossible to absorb in one listening/reading. Well read. New introduction.
Audible is to be applauded for making this book available. How about more by Niebuhr?
Justice, by Michael J. Sandel, is a book version of one of the most popular classes at Harvard. In the course of the book, Sandel deals with just about every political/ethical hot button issue you can think of, from abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage to the redistribution of wealth. The purpose of the author is not simply to deal with these issues individually, but to show that how we resolve these issues is dependent on a much larger question: what is justice and what does it mean to live in a just society? Sandel compares and contrasts the three most influential theories of justice.
In the process, Sandel explains the views of Aristotle, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Rawls and others. Do not let this scare you off! Sandel is an exceptional teacher and his explanations are as simple and as clear as possible. Though Sandel has his own point of view, he is up front about it and is very fair in his treatment of different viewpoints. whether you are coming from the Left or the Right, there ismuch to learn and appreciate here. One of the main points Sandel makes throughout the book(and here he is in agreement with President Obama) is that Progressives were mistaken in ceding many moral and religious issues to the Conservatives. This book deserves a wide readership. It is currently on the New York Times Best Seller List.
I'm generally not a fan of authors reading their own books. This one is an exception. Sandel does an excellent job and his sincerity is evident in the tone of his voice.
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