In the hands of a skilled narrator, even a mediocre novel can be brought to life in unexpected ways. Sad to say, this is indeed a mediocre novel, despite my high hopes that it would be otherwise.
With author Thomas Harris narrating, Hannibal Rising becomes almost unbearable. His otherwise charming Southern accent is a mismatch for the European locales of the book and his voice lacks the proper nuance for moments of both tenderness and of gripping evil. The end result is a grating and irritating experience.
I really wish I could file a positive report here, but this listen is just completely sapped of all life by the author's flat reading.
Did the real narrator call in sick? Does this narrator not have more than a passing familiarity with the English language? Yes, apparently, on both counts.
First of all, five stars for Balzac because, well, Balzac. It's a fantastic story, but I'm afraid it's rendered unbearable by this reader.
Remember when kids would be called upon to read passages of a story out loud by the teacher in grade school? Remember their flat, unremarkable, dispassionate dictations? That's what you get with this reader who can't even pronounce many English words (conjuring becomes con-JUR-ing in his hands), much less the French accents. A computerized LibriVox version would be preferable to this. John Cleese's silly French knight in "Holy Grail" was more believeable.
Unfortunately, this one is a pass.
That freeing moment when I decided to read the kindle version instead.
Simon Vance or the late Frederick Davidson.
Heller clearly is a poet and he brings a dreamy, verse-like style to this book, which I'd describe as a mashup of "The Art of Racing in the Rain" with "The Stand." It hit all my buttons: airplanes, dogs, apocalyptic survival, a sap-free romance and middle age. Best thing I've read all year.Also worth noting: I have a hard copy of this book and the physical writing style as it's laid out on the page is a bit jarring. Sort of like looking at e.e. cummings' work for the first time. In this audio format, the book finds it's perfect home. Mark Deakins really is main character Higg.
Probably Pops. I won't say much about him in order to avoid spoilers.
Higg, the main character.
"I, Aviator" or "The Omega Pilot" (Not really. It's perfectly named, as is.)
Swanson craftily frames the manhunt for Booth and his co-conspirators as a tale of suspense, relying on witness testimony, trial transcripts and newspaper accounts. He shies away from speculation, and the book is the better for it.
Although the book focuses on the manhunt, providing thrills and twists at every turn, it's actually a great primer on Booth, giving us a glimpse into the motivation of this complex player in American history.
The reading is solid and fast-paced, perfectly matching the tone of the written work. You'll want to know more after listening, and that makes this book a smashing success.
In three years of being an audible subscriber, I've finally found that holy grail book - a pitch-perfect tale that never, ever disappoints and is over way too soon.
Dallek's overview of the Kennedy legacy is a political, not personal one. He stays away from pretty much everything that made Kennedy a compelling figure, focusing on a cut-and-dried political biography. One wishes he'd linger a bit on Kennedy's persona, charm and wit, but he instead plows full steam ahead with a "just the facts" account of JFK's brief White House tenure.
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