This books means to provoke. And provoke, it does. Jonah Goldberg's rant against "liberalism", a.k.a. "progressivism" is a veritable assault on conventional, political wisdom. Mr. Goldberg creates exhaustive accounts of how today's liberals are the heirs of old Socialist models. Fascism, he contends, in a stridently defiant rationale, was not and is not the domain of the "right" or conservatives. Rather, it is the stomping ground of the "left" who would only too willingly throw individual liberties under the bus to advance their social agenda. Mr. Goldberg is a true contrarian, who revels in creating disturbing associations between unlikely bedfellows. His account of Mussolini as the darling of American progressives in the 1920s is meant to shock. So is his characterization of Woodrow Wilson as America's first "fascist dictator". All of this is disturbing enough for me to recommend this book only to other "bomb throwers" who relish turning perceptions upside down. Whether or not Mr. Goldberg's facts are accurate or not is secondary to this reader's feeling of being attacked by his anger. He rages against those who have ever had any association with social reform. This anger is so forceful that it is a virtual assault on any possible dispassionate reflection of the content of his arguments. In listening to this, I found myself being reminded over and over again of Mr. Goldberg's lack of tolerance for diversity and compassion. Mr. Goldberg comes off as being hard-edged and intolerant, a thoroughly unlikeable know-it-all. This is his and his book's major failing. He created in me a sense of revulsion for his views and his motivations. Whatever happened to civility, Mr. Goldberg? I'll credit him with being smart and clever. It's just that those attributes do not trump harsh and self-righteous.
Johnny Heller's performance is impressive. His voice sounds like a combination of the effects of whiskey and tobacco, giving a perfect intonation to the narrative. This performance was a triumph over tedium and pedantry. He convinced me that he and Mr. Goldberg were a formidable, tag-team duo.
David McCullough's narration of his biography, Truman was a treat. McCullough's being the narrator was compelling and the story that he revealed about Truman's life and character was deeply inspiring. Truman's reported honesty, straight forwardness and decisiveness even in the face of huge resistance spoke of a character that I find totally absent in today's corrupt world of spin-politics. The story shows that Truman was his own man, a self-made man who did what he perceived as right when he had to do it without regard for the politics. It is clear to this reader that Mr. McCullough was presenting President Truman as a kind of American folk hero stripped of fantasy and legend, but nonetheless a character who was, despite his modest frame, larger than life. This is a good read for two reasons. First, it illuminates the story behind a president who is largely passed over in history. Second, it reminds the reader of what a great president is and puts a clear perspective on the way things are now in contrast. Hopefully, Truman will not be the last of his kind.
This book is for all of us over 50 types, who have treasured Mr. Keillor's anecdotal stories on a Prairie Home Companion, about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. But, this is the adult version of those broadcast stories. Here he deals with death, family alienation, sexual dysfunction and a host of private, personal insights into the lives of his characters. His descriptions of his characters made this reader laugh out loud in the early chapters. But, as the chapters rolled by, punctuated with nostalgic piano interludes, Mr. Keillor's slow, breathy narration starts to wear. There is no great architecture of fiction here. This is not a miracle or morality tale. Rather, it is a sweet and somber collection of provincial characters who are shown to endure life's inanities and ironies. And there is no one who knows these Midwesterners better than Mr. Keillor. It is funny and sad to listen to this, with him doing his own narration as he has on the radio for so many years. I'm glad I spent the time with him. He is like having a friend who is melancholy and removed, giving him a clear view of the big picture in a little town. Thank you, Mr. Keillor and thank God I am not a Lutheran.
This was a fun listen for younger listeners. But, for a senior like me it was an interesting peek into the mindset of the young in the 21st Century. Google, digital code, fantasy worlds, etc. all were engaged throughout.
Yes, if I were 30 years younger.
I haven't listened to other performances, but I enjoyed this one as he spoke in various voices.
Sure. Another book could continue the fun although the conclusion of the story reveals the folly of the whole quest by the characters involved. There is more to say about quests and the tendency we all have to imagine significance in things that turn out not to be there. It's kind of sad. We all want our dreams to come true. But, there is a lesson there and that could be a starting point for another book.
Harold Fry is Everyman, at least everyman who is 65 years old. I am 65 years old and I can certainly identify with Harold, his regrets, his wistfulness, his determination to make an account of himself with one late, great act of compassion and gratitude. Rachel Joyce deeply perceives the delicate disequilibrium of a man who is slipping down into his own mortality, burdened with regret for his lack of courage and responsibility. Harold Fry is not a loser, but he is a man who put his life in a box not to be touched or opened. His box is filled with regret for the loss of his son and for his not taking responsibility for his anger at his job in a brewery and the cost that was paid by a coworker who protected his folly. And so suddenly,on a little walk to post a letter, Harold decides to go thank the worker who all these years later is in hospice dying. Harold phones the hospice center and tells the answering nurse to have Queenie keep living because he, Harold the Called, Harold the Determined will walk across England to to see her and thank her for her act of sacrifice and character. His journey, like all such books becomes a collection of encounters with various persons who inspire, assist, heal, commiserate, join-up or just hang around to witness and participate in a growing news event. And like the rag tassels fluttering on the end of a kite tail in a shifting wind, his devoted wife trys to understand and assist this huge change in her beloved Harold.
The narration by Jim Broadbent is perfectly nuanced for such a tender and gentle story. His usung various intonations and phrasing for different characters keeps the narrative fresh and vibrant.
Of course, when Harold dos arrive at the hospice facility, he finds Queenie beyond the pale, unable to communicate, suffering and dying and at the total mercy of her caregivers. She did keep living. But the things to be said, the touch of once caring are all too late. Nevertheless, Harold had made a statement by his walk of all those many miles. He honored Queenie and himself. I'd like to think that Queenie felt his presence. The love you save is the love you send. By the end of this pilgrimage, Harold was closer to God. And in the end that indwelling God is the coming and going of our souls.
This was quite a journey! There was shock, blood, more shock, more blood and more blood. Wow, does this guy like to shove your face into entrails or what? All of this against an existential nothingness of the vast Pacific, punctuated by marine curiosities and bizarre manifestations of survivalism. This book is not for the delicate. It is raw and deep in the way it attacks the reader's sensibilities. As with the protagonist, Pi himself, there is no refuge for the reader. Yet, it has a kind of narrative mastery that makes this book more than "a good read" and moves it into the realm of literature. Its quirkiness with a Bengal tiger and young Pi alone in a lifeboat is odd enough. But this zoo of carnage and depravity could only be authored by someone who likes to visit the dark side a little too much for my taste. At the end of it all, I am left asking what it all meant. To what purpose were we dragged across the Pacific and made to witness such horror? Survival? I think that I'll take a pass for now on another read from Yann Martel.
The narration of Jeff Woodman is well suited to the whole piece. His meticulous enunciation of each syllable is laser like in its focus. Every word is spoken with a kind of smoothness and dispassionate tone that also has an authentic feeling of an Indian dialect.
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