I am a Dan Savage fan, having read his sex advice column for many years. He offers good information that other writers wouldn't dare publish. And like his columns, this book contains a core of thoughtful history and insights on marriage, gay and straight. I learned from him. But, alas, Savage's personal history and relationship with his husband wasn't one to which I could relate -- a series of argumentative, unpleasant encounters, especially when the two of them were on the road with their son. Since the memoir leads up to the decision of whether to get a tattoo or get married, Savage convinced me that they should have the right to the legal and social benefits of marriage, but I couldn't help feeling that perhaps marriage wasn't best for this couple, a feeling cemented by his description of the ceremony.
Perhaps my negativity was compounded by the reader, who read slowly and with overly clear diction. I found him unable to convey the narrative voice and humor of the book in the spoken voice.
For anyone interested in Africa, or in European history, this is an important read. Economics and politics -- along with the obsessions of the Belgian monarch -- give structure to relentless tales of torture and murder. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Alas, the flow comes to a stop every 40 minutes or so, and for that I downgraded the performance. Clearly Audible bought an earlier, taped audio book, which in the old way of listening repeated the last line of the previous tape to orient the reader to the next one. New technology makes this not only unnecessary, but annoying, and I hope Audible will edit out these repetitions..
In the first chapters of this book I thought this shallow, narcissistic writer must be presenting herself in a harsh light in order to show how the Peace Corps and developing world would change and strengthen her character. No such luck. Rarely has such a self-absorbed person set carelessly written, shabbily edited words on paper. As a returned Peace Corp Volunteer who worked for 3 years in Sierra Leone with my husband and 3 children, I am interested in the experience of other PCVs. Yes, I have had malaria and so have 2 of my children. Yes, as the "non-matrix spouse" I had challenges defining a job for myself. Yes, I have subsisted on a limited diet and pined for American food and physical comforts. But Ms. Waite's experience with deprevation is appallingly self-centered, and whatever growth she experiences happens off stage or is instantly erased by her needy, whiny attitude. Count me in among the Audible reviewers offended by her writing on perceived African body odor -- and it's not just a mention, it's a rant.
As for her signature chapter sign off, "I'll keep you posted," my response is, "No thanks, I've had enough."
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