San Francisco, CA USA | Member Since 2008
The structure is ideal. The craftsmanship is wonderful -the novel was constructed and finished like some complex engineering creation, say a high rise or, perhaps a tennis court, cantilevered over the sea. This is not a slight -great art often depends on great craftsmanship. The language shines though for me, Edoardo Ballerini's reading may have taken it farther than reading it myself.
I rarely laugh out loud listening to novels, particularly since I might be listening with my wife or the three year old asleep next to me. BUT, this made me laugh out loud twice. Once at dialogue and once at a plot twist. Naturally, Beautiful Ruins makes me want to visit Liguria AND perhaps rent Cleopatra.
and a bit trite. And it is not the embedded quasi-technical information that makes it so -I am reasonably familiar with information system security. The plot just doesn't seem to have weight or momentum -the characters are not there. Couldn't finish it. The saving grace for me was learning High Frequency Trading. It is horrifying prevalent and - still accounts for 50% or more of all trades and seems to add fragility to the markets. I can't articulate why taking profits (only a billion or so a year) from algorithm driven almost instant trades seems so wrong to me so I guess I'll go off and read Michael Lewis. Johnny Heller seemed wrong for the part.
particularly with the excellent Humphrey Bower narrating. Though, unlike Courtenay, there aren't any big plot twists; it reads like someone's autobiography. Just before starting it, I met someone who had been sent away to boarding school at age 5 and I was obsessing with how this must have felt (and I remembered reading in Ted Turner's autobiography that he went away at4(?). Pennies gives a believable glimpse of a world far away from parents as seen by a child.
I liked the premise, and the eve of WWII period piece details were good as Josh gets transported back in time from 2000 to 1941.
Marginal character development -this has more than a touch of romance novel; Josh is almost perfect in appearance and deeds. Some odd anachronisms in the details and language. I was happy enough to finish it and can even imagine reading a sequel (my standards aren't all that high...) but I did find myself rolling my eyes at some of the language and plot holes.
late in the book Theo remembers or imagines his father saying. And for all else, this IS an intriguing and entertaining story. Picaresque, it ranges from Theo’s coming of age in a forlorn Las Vegas suburb with his inexorable friend Boris to Manhattan and the furniture buying habits of the very rich. Of the many startling but believable coincidences, major and minor, I give one example: The Goldfinch painter and Rembrandt student Carel Fabritius died young in a huge powder magazine explosion in 1654 and, early in this book his painting is in an explosion at the Met in New York. (The painting is amazing and a most elegantly simple masterwork. I want to see it in the Hague someday).
Like complex clockwork, the story needs all of the small pieces that add up to 32 hours. Some scenes could even have gone longer; more could have been said and it would have been okay. There is a delicacy to the detail of description and narrative that I find appealing. I have always loved picaresque novels most of whose plot twists seem far less plausible than these.
The narration is great. I am speaking with Ukrainian eccent all the time now I finish book. A good listen.
the setting and events of pre-partition India (1930-1947), mainly Calcutta, and the early horrifying picaresque plot take it farther.
The heroine, born Pom, is terrifically honorable yet she is tormented throughout by having to keep her origins and early life a secret. A few easily swallowed implausibilities in her early life kept me aware that this was fiction. Lovely descriptions of her world -colors, scents, textures, food. The hero is missing some dimensionality -while she does describe him, I found I could not picture him and his origins and early motivations -he works for what is in part a secret police organization- are not revealed
I sometimes felt that I was being told the story by someone who, had been part of the Brahmin elite and was somehow narrating someone else's story rather than someone who rose from a very low caste. In a way, it is a credit to Sujata Massey, who did not live in this culture or near this era that she channels the product of some elite Indian boarding school.
Glad I read it.
or, to some, Engineering Porn. There aren't many thrillers that use this much mostly plausible science and engineering. Like so many books, the ending, while appropriate, felt a bit rushed and less complete than the earlier shenanigans
R.C. Bray is perfect. More than any recent audiobook I can remember, he WAS the main character, Mark Watney, stranded on Mars yet cracking wise in the most dire of straits.
It is an important and good thing that this book gives readers a glimpse of the true horror of DPRK. But ultimately this is a story (as Adam Johnson tells us in an afterward) and while I think it intends to show us how REAL people suffer, the fantastical, which makes it such a great read, makes the characters stay on the page.
The narration is super. James Kyson Lee as the voice of the PA system in every home -reminded -irony in some way no?- of the disembodied PA voice in M.A.S.H.
I had tried to post a review with a bunch of links in it. A no-no I guess. North Korea information sites and Kim Jong Il's movie star mistress, Song Hye-rim's Wikipedia page.
His story in last week's New Yorker about his penchant for collecting errant golf balls prompted me to start relistening to this. We had originally listed on a cross country drive so the story of the chemical tanker was perfect. Then, in Wyoming, the BNSF coal train segment was playing as we drove quite close to Powder River where the coal conveyor belt starts. It is a (dryly) FUNNY book (his narration makes it more so) with just the right amount of his personal bias built into the lush descriptions of all these folks who MOVE things.
This is one of the few books I leave on my phone permanently.
First, thank you Melinda. I follow you eagerly. I don't read too many thrillers or spy stories but I trust your judgement and was not disappointed.
This book feels real and feels contemporary. I can imagine it happening now ~12 years later. The Служба Внешней Разведки and the CIA are still at it -not surprising but somewhat out of sight these days. This book is taut, entertaining, and generally well written -Mr. Matthews uses language well. And it makes one think about the geopolitics that for many of us are normally in the background (though Syria is kind of highlighting Russia's ever-present ambitions.) Serious implications for us what with Russia still holding 3000+ nukes. The two main characters, Nate and Domenika are somehat unbelievable but really, suitable for the story. At the end of each chapter is the recipe of something described earlier. A cute twist, not disruptive and it made me hungry.
but still jolted by Mr. McLaren's mispronounciations. How about sluff for slough and rimpoch for rimpoche? Oh, and folks are still barring their teeth.
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