I found this book extraordinary and touching. It begins in contemporary San Francisco where a 40-ish, Chinese American woman struggles to deal with her aging mother. At first the mother's fractured English and superstitions seem to make her a comic stereotype, as does her descent into senile dementia.
But, as the daughter (and the reader) read the mother's newly translated diary, this tiny Chinese woman's old world eccentricities begin to make sense in the context of the struggles and the tragedies that brought her to America where she tried to fit into a new country and a new culture.
In addition to a terrific narrative, Ms. Tan works with beautiful motifs, images and themes. The motif of writing as each successive generation takes it a step forward - from ink maker to calligrapher to author - lends this very personal story an epic touch. The symbolism of the fossilized bones of Peking Man and the treasured oracle bones adds depth.
This is the work of a wonderful author, unafraid to let her characters speak for themselves.
It seemed like a "can't miss" selection. Martin Short, the funniest man on the planet being interviewed by Dick Cavett, a brilliant interviewer, wit and raconteur. But Mr. Cavett seemed to forgot that he was the interviewer, not the interviewee. He acted as if he were on the stage to amuse Mr. Short with his own anecdotes.
It would have been so easy to let a brilliant comic like Short loose with all his incredible energy and characters. Everyone would have gone home thinking how brilliant Short was and what a wonderful job Cavett did showing off Short's brilliance. Best of all, I wouldn't be writing this review.
But instead Cavett blocked Short at every moment, recounting stories about entertainers of an era long before Short's (Milton Berle, Fred Allen, Richard Loo?!)
Let's be fair and say Mr. Cavett was having a bad evening, or he and Mr. Short didn't have any chemistry. It happens. But that's no excuse for selling this debacle to Audible's subscribers.
I assure you I will survive very well without my 99 cents, but I should have it back just on principle..
First things first, Richard Price is an extraordinary writer. His work in movies "Clockers" and in television "The Wire" speaks for itself. His novels are wonderful. He reminds me of Tom Wolfe in his eye for subtlety and detail. His characters talk like human beings, not puppets set up to say glib things to show off how clever the writer is.
Joe Morton, the narrator, is a world class actor and narrator. Among his acting credits is John Sayles "Brother From Another Planet" where he starred in a feature film without saying a word of dialog. He often narrates the "American Experience" series on PBS.
But the production on this book leaves me torn. The use of music cues is kind of a turn off. It's not as bad as the audio book of "Huckleberry Finn" I bought on Audible a few months ago with its cutesy banjo and harmonica music, that tried to turn one of America's two greatest novels into a carefree, nostalgic romp, but I prefer my audio books unadulterated.
Finally, had I noticed that this was an abridged book, I probably would not have bought it. Richard Price's writing is too winning to be cut down with an editor's machete.
I know it sounds horribly boring, a book about good people trying to do kind things, but Nevil Shute’s Trustee From The Toolroom charmed me and made me feel good about being human. And that is a lovely thing.
The story concerns Keith Stewart, a gifted machinist who makes his living writing for a hobbyist magazine called Miniature Mechanic that teaches other hobbyists how to make projects in their home machine shops. That's a little nook of civilization I never knew existed and Shute explores it wonderfully.
Though disappointed that they could not have children, Keith and his wife live modestly and contentedly in a poor suburb of London. When his sister and brother-in-law die in a boating accident near Tahiti, they are willingly tasked with the role of raising their daughter.
To recover the modest money left for the little girl's education, Keith must leave the comfort and safety of his home and bum his way around the world to his sister's shipwreck. In his travels, he discovers that, because of his articles in Miniature Mechanic, (and his generosity in taking the time to answer readers' letters) he has a vast network of friends and admirers everywhere eager to help him in his quest.
Listen, I love listening to Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch kicking ass. I love the violent naval battles in the Master And Commander books, but sometimes it's nice to read a book about nice people doing nice things. I was charmed.
Imagine if Richard Brautigan wrote a book about an erotic Disney World. That would be Nicholson Baker's "House Of Holes."
I listened to this entire book (or should I say "hole" book?) waiting to see what the author was getting at, and at the end, it seemed he was getting at nothing. "House Of Holes" is just not about anything. Instead of a strong narrative to pull me along, Baker uses titillation which got quite tedious after a couple of hours.
Jeff Woodman’s narration was good, but his character voices were too cartoony. He made everybody sound like libidinous idiots, especially the women.
And speaking of women, I couldn’t help noticing that all the rave reviews for this book were written by men. I’d be curious to see some reactions from women.
Would somebody on this forum please help me out and tell me what this book is about? Show me what I missed. Let me in on the joke.
If you know anything about current books, you know that this book is brilliant and well worth your time. It's one of most important books of the year. The New York Times rave review was written by Bill Clinton.
But something must be said about Grover Gardner's mastery of the English language. It's missing. It's not that he's a bad reader. In fact he would be pretty good if it weren't for one thing... The man is constantly, annoyingly and distractingly mispronouncing words.
Mr. Gardner needs a producer or a director... someone who can tell him to take a moment and check the pronunciation of the words he's reading.
A quick search of Audible reveals Mr. Gardner's name on 285 titles. That's thousands of hours of recordings. Perhaps he's too busy recording books to check pronunciations. Perhaps Audible has kept him so busy that he hasn't slept in 12 years and can't concentrate. Perhaps he records books in his sleep.
My point is not to attack Mr. Gardner, but rather that a brilliant and important book... a publishing event if you will, like The Passage Of Power deserves a lot more care taken with its audio version. We would certainly not be pleased with this book if it were filled with mis-spellings and typographical errors. Grover Gardner's mispronunciations are the audible equivalent.
A few weeks ago Audible had a sale and I picked up 5 books thinking, “What the hell. If I hate it, I’m only out $4.95.” Well, with "Shadow And Fog," I picked a winner.
It’s been years since I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries and I won’t try to pass myself off as a Baker Street Irregular, but I do love a good mystery and this one more than qualifies. Author Lindsay Faye builds on a conceit I first encountered in Nicholas Meyer’s “Seven Percent Solution.” He places the Holmes and Watson characters in the middle of an historical event or among historical characters. In Meyer’s book, Holmes is tricked into going to Vienna to be treated for his cocaine addiction by Dr. Sigmund Freud. In this story, Holmes finds himself matching wits with Jack The Ripper.
Sherlock Holmes and his companion/biographer, Dr. John Watson are unquestionably among literature’s most enduring and beloved icons. Faye captures their voices perfectly. A lesser writer might have made Dr. Watson sound like the buffoon Nigel Bruce played opposite Basil Rathbone in the Sherlock Holmes films. Faye creates a number of those wonderful moments when Holmes’ dazzles someone with the conclusions he draws about them, moments that have always left me as impressed with the writer as Holmes’ clients are with his observational powers. And Faye adds a cast of memorable characters, in particular Mary Ann Blunt, a streetwalker with an unexpected talent for sleuthing.
Simon Vance deserves special credit for his wonderful performance. He certainly seems to know his London dialects neighborhood by neighborhood. Very impressive.
My conclusion… “Shadow And Fog” is great fun and well worth your time.
At his best, Michael Connelly is a great entertainer and a wonderful story teller. I'm happy to say The Reversal is Connelly at his best.
Lately, I've found the Harry Bosch books to be over the top and, well... silly. But this story is told by both Bosch and his half brother, Mickey Haller (Lincoln Lawyer). That's a perfect combination. We get Mickey Haller for the always perceptive, chess-like court room moves and Hieronymus Bosch to add a bit of action and violence.
Peter Giles does a great job on the reading although I do have one gripe. His voice for Harry Bosch sounds more like an aging surfer dude than a veteran detective, struggling father and former Vietnam tunnel rat.
But aside from that, the moment this story starts, you won't be able to stop listening.
Steve Wozniak was a key player in a moment in the world's history that may be as important as Gutenberg's invention of the printing press so if figures that this should be a thrilling read, full of insights (and gossip) about the process, the discoveries and the other important players. Instead, we have a book written at a 5th grade reading level that tediously recounts each clever engineering accomplishment of Mr. Wozniak's.
We get it, Mr. Wozniak. You're a clever engineer and a nice guy, even if you do have to say so yourself OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. What you're NOT is an author or a raconteur.
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is an amazing novel. It is often hilarious, occasionally revolting and never stops asking, "What exactly does it mean to be human?"
Bruno Littlemore experiences life on both sides of the glass wall that separates the chimpanzees from the visitors at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. That unique perspective is what makes this book so wonderful.
This is Benjamin Hale's first novel and he's created something very special. Robert Petkoff does a tremendous job reading the book.
This is the kind of book I will listen to again and again and every time find something new and amazing.
Do yourself a favor and get this book. And once you've read it, tell all your friends about it. I have.
Ever since reading Seabiscuit, I’ve been eagerly awaiting another book by Laura Hillenbrand. She is not only a magnificent story teller, she has a magnificent gift for picking stories to tell. Nine years ago, that story was Seasbiscuit: An American Legend. I had no interest in horses or horse racing, but I picked it up because the reviews had been so good. It was one of the most enthralling, memorable books I’ve ever read. (If you get it from Audible.com, be sure to get the Unabridged version. The abridged version is not worthy of your time),
Nine years later comes Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption. It’s the story of a bombardier whose plane crashes into the Pacific and, after surviving 47 days on a raft, must survive a year and a half of torture and slave labor as a prisoner of war. In the hands of a lesser story teller, the relentless ordeals this man endured could have become maudlin, boring or even comical. But in Hillenbrand’s telling, it’s an emotional rollercoaster that leaves one in awe. There were times the book had me in tears and it’s rare a book can do that for a reader.
Edward Hermann deserves applause for his excellent reading. This is a book you should not miss.
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