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Nate

Jackson, MS, United States | Member Since 2006

ratings
159
REVIEWS
22
FOLLOWING
10
FOLLOWERS
7
HELPFUL VOTES
112

  • Tenth of December: Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By George Saunders
    • Narrated By George Saunders
    Overall
    (474)
    Performance
    (419)
    Story
    (428)

    One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet. In the taut opener, "Victory Lap", a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In "Home", a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned.

    Molly-o says: "I could never have known"
    "No Duds Here"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    No duds to be found in this short story collection. What I like is how unassuming the 'tagonists are. (They aren't really 'pro-' or 'ant-'.) Many of the characters have a fragile psyche and plenty of self-doubt and guilt for everyone. The prose remains fascinating and unpredictable, juxtaposing an impressive vocabulary with the simple internalizing that usually goes unspoken. As with any writer, it was cool to see recurring themes, phrases, and concepts that he circled back to, and yet I never knew where each story was ultimately headed. There was social commentary, sci-fi, po-mo, slice-of-life family drama set in the near future, and ultimately a large amount of creativity. I also found a few of his articles in the New Yorker to be entertaining/thought-provoking. He reads his own work well, and sounds good sped up to the 1.25 setting.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Classics of Russian Literature

    • ORIGINAL (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Irwin Weil
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia-you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself.Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems.

    Cookie says: "This is really special!"
    "Excellent Course, But Gaping Hole Without Bulgakov"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie.

    That aside, I loved this course. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him.

    This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronounced Russian phrases and poems, and an in-depth walk through *almost* all the best Russian works.

    I lived in Ukraine for 10 years, and this course still opened my eyes to a lot more about the Russian culture I was unaware of. It's brilliant, funny, educational, and insightful. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and/or literature of this part of the world should pick this up now. 36 amazing half-hour lectures for one credit is a steal!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    Overall
    (294)
    Performance
    (195)
    Story
    (198)

    Dave Eggers scored a worldwide phenomenon with this memoir that topped national best-seller lists and has since become a staple for summer reading and book clubs. A compelling voice for Generation X, Eggers hererecounts his early 20s, caring for his younger brother after their parents’ unexpected deaths and his endeavors in a variety of media.

    Darwin8u says: "Parts I loved, Parts I hated but Playfully Kinetic"
    "Bridge Between Stream of Consciousness & PoMo Lit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You can't write a book like this without JD Salinger. You also can't get the genius of George Saunders without this work. So as a bridge connecting Tenth of December to The Catcher in the Rye, I am very grateful for its existence. As for its own merit, it was honest and rambly and self-pitying and desperate and depressing and irritating -- with what ended up to be very little heart. Or at least it didn't translate into heart for me. Being disgruntled with life and the lemon-throwing machine it can be only transcends it if the characters can overcome and grow from how they handle the challenges.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Masha Gessen
    • Narrated By Justine Eyre
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (161)
    Performance
    (148)
    Story
    (144)

    The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress, making his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

    John says: "very good points, but bias is evident"
    "Mr. Putin looks on with bored, icy blue eyes as:"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    •He hunts without a shirt on.
    •He takes over the TV station/media and exiles the majority stock holders in order to create his own news.
    •The FSB plants bombs in apartment buildings and blames the Chechens (bags of hexagen marked as sugar).
    •He hires 7 ambassador-cronies to oversee the various regions and control the voting process.
    •He reverts to the former Soviet national song… slash fear-mongering totalitarian state.
    •He jokes on Larry King Live about a nuclear submarine that sank during a drill with no rescue attempts, killing 113 Russian sailors.
    •He cuddles with dolphins.
    •300 hostages (mostly women and children) were killed by federal troops that stormed a school.
    •129 hostages were killed post-rescue due to a gas attack by a SWAT team at a Moscow Theatre.
    •The dismantling of democracy reaches completion.
    •Innumerable Russian journalists, lawyers, and dissenters are imprisoned/exiled and/or killed.
    •Polonium murders abound.
    •He steals Kraft’s NFL Championship ring.
    •And much, much more!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jack Handey
    • Narrated By Jack Handey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (65)
    Story
    (66)

    The legendary Deep Thoughts and New Yorker humorist Jack Handey is back with his very first novel - a hilarious, absurd, far-flung adventure tale. "Are you a fan of books in which famous tourist destinations are re-purposed as unlivable hellholes for no particular reason? Jack Handey's exotic tale is full of laugh-out-loud twists. A reliably unreliable narrator and his friend, who is some other guy, need to get out of town. They have a taste for adventure, so they pay a visit to a relic of bygone days - a travel agent - and discover an old treasure map."

    Cathleen says: "Mildly Entertaining, Not a good read"
    "Dry. Incoherent. Hilarious."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It's basically Deep Thoughts crammed into a flimsy plot. I love his stuff, but I could only take so much at a time due to dryness desensitization. Then I'd come back to it and it was hilarious again. His tone is hysterical, and I could definitely see re-listening to this in the future.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Michael Moss
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1056)
    Performance
    (927)
    Story
    (921)

    Every year, the average American eats 33 pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and 70 pounds of sugar (about 22 teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese.

    Michael says: "This is all too real, and YOU are the victim."
    "Food = Drugs"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Equal parts Fast Food Nation, The Informant!, and The Omnivore's Dilemma. It does a great job of showing the closed door meetings, food industry rivalries, Wall Street, the government, as well as our own demands that have gotten us into the cluster we are in today. It was highly informative in not only mentioning the key players behind the food giants (like Cargill that provides the salt/sugar/fat and Monell that does the taste research), but also in the gradual developments and insider terms/tricks (stomach share, bliss point, checkoff money, line extension, single serving, vanishing caloric density) that have come together for the perfect storm of our obesity problem. Food = Drugs. I'm not going to lie... it made me want cookies, cheese, and chips pretty bad, though!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By James Gleick
    • Narrated By Rob Shapiro
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (774)
    Performance
    (479)
    Story
    (486)

    James Gleick, the author of the best sellers Chaos and Ge­nius, brings us his crowning work: a revelatory chronicle that shows how information has become the modern era’s defining quality—the blood, the fuel, the vital principle of our world.

    Ethan M. says: "Brilliant book, heroic reader, better in print?"
    "Sprawling, ambitious, and hits its mark."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Sprawling, ambitious, and yet somehow hits its mark. Traces the history of how we communicate, how we measure information, how far we've come, and why it matters. It unapologetically spends time in the weeds to walk through the theories (and their developers) of the mathematical/philosophical/biological underpinnings of what makes information so vital and yet overwhelming.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4856)
    Performance
    (4483)
    Story
    (4497)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Cynthia says: "Shadows Dissolved in Vinegar"
    "More Stardust Than American Gods"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much more fairytale Coraline/Stardust/Graveyard Book than American Gods/Anansi Boys/Neverwhere, but still a decent novella. Felt like a story from Fragile Things carried to completion. It was neat to hear that there was a lot from his early childhood that was pulled into this story, and it was a surprise to him that the short story grew into this -- for my money, though, I like Gaiman when he's more grit and gristle.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Robin Sloan
    • Narrated By Ari Fliakos
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2528)
    Performance
    (2274)
    Story
    (2260)

    The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything....

    Susan says: "Fun, thought-provoking, mysterious.... and FUN !"
    "Ready Player One's Tone Meets Umberto Eco Lite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    But less generously: not half as interesting as either. Foucault's Pendulum is much more worth the time.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Marriage Plot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1749)
    Performance
    (1447)
    Story
    (1440)

    It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

    FanB14 says: "Esoteric, Vapid, Trite"
    "Not pretentious; just smart."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to The Marriage Plot the most enjoyable?

    Some have called this book pretentious, but I think anytime an author's main characters are moderately intelligent, it can turn off the more pedestrian among us. I am tired of reading about dumb people, and also quite glad to see the brokenness and truth with which Eugenides handles his characters, as well as the inter-relationships and complexities of smart college students trying to find themselves. To the first half of this book I would give a solid 5 stars, but somehow it gets a tad tedious yet still very well-written in the latter half. This man has chops, and I am definitely picking up Middlesex soon. As for the reader, Pittu blows the door off its hinges by smoothly transitioning between characters, gender, and accents. I would love to hear more from him.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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