I love books that deftly blend historical accounts (however loose) with easily digested scientific ideas/inventions and fold them into clever stories with believable, achingly human characters. This book succeeds in several of those areas, but falls short in its presentation of characters. Too often, they are flat and predictable. Their comments seem like points taken from a storyboard to propel the plot, not natural expressions of real people swirling about in the events of their lives. To its credit, the narrative is quite fine and the reading is well-matched to the writing style. The author understands how to craft a book with foreshadowing and story tentacles that wrap back upon themselves to create that mobius strip flow that marks the complexity of quirky, rich lives. So, I can recommend this as a good read, but not a great one. If the category appeals to you, I can highly recommend A Case of Curiosities (print only, bestseller and available in trade paperback) or The Invention of Everything Else (print and Audible.com - I found the reading a delight!).
Highly recommended. Easy listening of important lessons.
I listened to this book awhile ago, but decided to revisit it now in 2013/2014 to see if my take might be enriched by the passage of time. The book's stories still hang solidly, and indeed, I had a new insight I wasn't ready for during my first listen a few years ago: many American business owners embraced the idea of China as a solution to their domestic problems, but actually traded familiar and frustrating problems for unfamiliar, incomprehensible, and equally frustrating foreign problems. Rather than see their profits dwindle due to understandable domestic issues, it seemed better to struggle against dwindling profits while swimming in a pool of exoticism (which turned out to be a business culture of pure sociopathy cloaked in "grass is greener" mystique). America lost twice. We lost jobs and we lost that fantasized financial boon that was going to provide tons of cash to benefit American infrastructure, business ventures, education, etc. And perhaps, given the penchant of Chinese manufacturers to use ANYTHING cheap in a sneaky bait and switch game, we gained an exposure to toxins unlike anything we could have imagined just 20 years ago. Other liabilities also abound: just last month, my glass shower door exploded. It turns out that the manufacturer of the hinges (in China) dumbed down the product to the point where it simply could not do the job right and it failed in a spectacular way. Fortunately no one was in the shower at the time. If I had been cut head to toe (tempered glass does indeed cut deeply when it explodes), who in China or here in the US would have known or cared? Thus, we have allowed the sad state of this foreign, sociopathic culture to become our own. Myopic businessmen run after a dollar waved in front of their faces (then jerked away last minute) and plunge off the cliff, taking us all with them. Perhaps if Americans can develop a new, better work culture, businesses will find it appealing to come home again. Yes, in all this doom and gloom, there is hope. Listen to this book now and don't just see what you can learn about how Americans have gladly submitted to being humiliated internationally, but see what opportunities come to mind. Then, pursue them.
Must say that it helps to know a bit about Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, but it's certainly not essential (perhaps a nice compromise would be to listen to The Hours or rent the movie of that book first). Mitz is certainly more light hearted than The Hours and in that way, serves as a great complement to it. But it still is plenty rich in atmosphere and relationship development. And there are quite a few laugh aloud moments. I don't normally associate Virginia Woolf with chuckles, but didn't resist it for a minute. The reading is spot on, I could find nothing to fault. And when it was done, I felt sorry for that -- the best measure of enjoying a book that I know. (It also got me to dig out a few old paperbacks of Woolf's works and enjoy them again, too.)
Just prior to buying this audiobook I bought the hardcover Cloud Atlas. But it turned out it was a different novel, author Callanan. So I listened to this book (nice) and then read the other, wondering if it was in any way inspired by the more famous one. Answer, no. A completely different story, one about WWII and the little hot air balloon bombs sent aloft to the west coast of America by the Japanese as part of their war effort. It's also about some characters who seem soaked in Catch 22 sensibility, a love story involving a clairvoyant Eskimo and choices we all make about life and death. And I must say, I enjoyed it more. Relevance? If like me you've been caught up in the hype about the Mitchell book, it may prove a little disappointing. It certainly has merit and some sections are very strong, but others much less so. Be tolerant if you come on the ride.
I'd recommend it to someone who likes Holmes and perhaps mysteries, in general.
The author fixed many shortcomings of the original stories written 100 yrs ago, calling our attention to important things glossed over and evening out some unnecessary imbalances from back then. But Watson is still too daft and unsophisticated. His lack of insights are unbelievable and his over-emotionality seems one literary convenience milked dry.
Jacobi's a gem. I'd listen to him read a cereal box.
The beauty of this book is that one does not have an extreme rxn to it. It resides in the shade of memory for several days as potential more than form, then grows in intensity and takes its form with increasing recognition of its sublime truth. Kieslowski, the Polish director, made a film about missed connections, misplaced emphases and self-mistrust that springs to mind when I think about this book. Melancholic, wistful, but not without a passionate push to steer you right so that you might discover a different truth for your life.
At just 4+ hrs, it's perfect for an evening (or two, over the weekend). Definitely not for cowards.
Whorter has some very interesting things to say and since he is something of an "odd man out" from majority thinking, it is natural that much of his points are "push off" points. He makes some of them very well, too, but tends to go too far, becoming guilty of the very same kind of arrogance he accuses others of displaying. The last hour is shockingly preachy and just plain odd.
This is a terrific book. I usually transfer 3-4 audiobooks to CD yearly for a listen down the road and this made the grade. It is quite simply, enthralling in its ability to communicate feeling, content and style as only a studied pro in the arms of a loving muse could do. I took time off from grad school to learn Dutch and travel through the Lowlands viewing Flemish art. This book is the closest thing I know to any device that can effectively give one the feeling I got during that wonderful period. It captures mood exquisitely. It transports one back in time as great lit should. The pacing, the words chosen, the phrasing -- all of it, subtle, yet powerfully effective. It doesn???t scream ???look how wonderfully I???ve done this,??? but it does. If this is new terrain for you, it may take awhile to ???get there.??? Given that ???there??? doesn???t exist anymore, it is worth the effort at 10x the price.
I was immediately taken by this story and the reader's presentation. The reader (if not the writer himself) does an amazing job with tone and pacing -- I wasn't just listening, I was THERE with him, walking side by side. I lent the audiobook to one friend and soon had three others knocking on my office door, forming a queue! That has never happened before. This is an extraordinary listen where the total is not just more than the sum of the parts, but something mesmerizing and unforgettable.
Imagine Brother Cadfael as conceived by the writers of Numbers, then edited by Charles Dickens. In short, lots of good, earthy plot lines that are embellished by a cornucopia of enduring values: forgiveness, integrity, perseverance. And the production is great fun, too, just like an old time radio play with a full cast and clever sound effects. At just over two hours, it doesn't beg the whole evening either.
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