i love The Middle Way: The Story of Buddhism. it's impeccably and passionately read (and by "passionately," i do NOT mean "over the top" - not in the least - but simply that the readers clearly care very much about what they're reading, and speak each word and phrase with appropriate feeling and intent), highly educational, and provocative of insight; no single influence i've encountered over the years has done more to interest me in the possibility of stepping onto the Buddhist path, nor to help me along in my understanding. i only wish i could find more sources of information that take so purely philosophical and non-religious a view of Buddhism. my personal opinion is that religion is a refuge of the weak-minded - indeed, as this very book points out, "it is much easier to follow rules and commandments than to be aware" - and i don't see any more reason to saddle Buddhism with the taint of "religion" than i do to so saddle Christ's teachings. this non-religious approach is one of the great attributes of this book, and i only hope i'll be able to find such purity of approach elsewhere.
I am quite enjoying this story; it's lively, interesting, well-told. Blackstone Audio's bargain-basement production values, however, distract terribly from the audiobook. While the primary narrator is a fairly skilled reader, his abilities are lacking in some points, including, as mentioned by another reviewer, pronunciation; various words are mispronounced throughout the book, and I puzzled for some time (in disbelief and amusement) over Foote's describing one Army general as "flamboyant in a dress" before I figured out that he meant the general was "flamboyant in address" - a point which could have been clarified with the proper pronunciation. Another problem with the narrator is his simply having been chosen for the job, because his voice has a somewhat grating nasal quality I found it more difficult to get past than I usually do such narrators' quirks. But worst of all are the numerous terrible, obvious overdubs by DIFFERENT NARRATORS that we're supposed to just take in stride and not notice at all. There are in fact at least three and possibly four different narrators' voices heard in this first volume, with the dubbed-in narrators' voices even more grating than Mr. Gardner's, and the combination of their vocal qualities and the abrupt, brief, and obvious drop-ins in which they're heard are so distracting that I seldom assimilate what's said during the overdubs because my mind is stuck in its disbelief that Blackstone would let such glaring flaws make it into the final version of the audiobook. It's really pathetic.
Also, one quality of the written book that doesn't translate well into audio is the way Foote will mention a person by name once and then refer to him exclusively by second-person pronouns for minutes on end, such that if you missed the one mention of his name earlier on, you may have no idea who's being talked about for five minutes at a time.
So in the end, this book is enjoyable, but I'd probably recommend reading it over listening to it.
this is an amazing, poetic work, and i've never heard any book so masterfully read. Anthony Heald reads Moby Dick with passion and precision, not as if he's reading another author's words, but as if he's dictating the work for the first time himself as he recalls the experiences.
evidently quite a few people find Moby Dick boring, but i don't (not even the section on whales, which i enjoyed as much as the rest of the book). if you're fascinated by language and the grace and elegance of the finest 19th-century English, you probably won't be bored either.
i'm glad i only spent 69 cents on this; the story is like a long joke that, when the punch line comes, i don't get. it's not supposed to be a joke, of course - it's supposedly a ghost story - but it's constructed just like a joke, consisting of a long lead-in followed by a punch line, if you will, on which the whole thing evidently hinges...but there's nothing revealed in the punch line; there's no surprise or anything else i didn't see coming. the big scary "sting" sound after the final line makes me think the final line was supposed to send chills up my spine, but it didn't; it couldn't have. it was like someone telling me two plus two equals four. nothing there that i didn't already know. what did i miss here?
the story wasn't masterfully read, either. the reading wasn't horrible, but it was kind of amateurish and over-the-top. i only gave it two stars instead of one because it was effective in creating a certain atmosphere for a while there, but for me it was not an effective story. not really worth $0.69; i would NOT recommend spending a credit on it.
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