What a great surprise! To hear these stories, most of which I had read before, performed by good actors before a live audience! I laughed--a lot. The stories really cam alive in a new way.
I loved 2666 and didn't want it to end, so naturally I chose this book, recently published posthumously. Some of the characters had the same names as those in 2666, The works of fictional author Archimbaldi showed up--in fact there is a list of his complete works. What's wrong with this, I asked myself? Why am I falling asleep? Why don't I care about these people? This novel lacks the sparkle and polish of Bolano's other works. It lacks humor. I often felt like these were scenes he had tried out for 2666 and then discarded in favor of more interesting ones. t was interested, and I finished it, mainly as a window into Bolano's process and style.
That said, there is a beautiful and touching series of letters near the end of the novel that were worth staying for.
I could not sort out if the narration was a problem or not. It was easy enough to follow.
If you haven't read Roberto Bolano yet, try the Savage Detectives or 2666.
39 hours long and I didn't want it to end.
For one thing, I had no idea where Bolano was going with this one--andl that is a treat. For another, even though this touches on some grim facts of life as humans in the world there are in this book a myriad of interesting tales and people. Very entertaining and often funny Sometimes I found myself in the midst of a conversation and said to myself--wait a minute, who are these people and how are they related to the character I was following? Going back just a few minutes always cleared that up.
On the performances--I enjoyed them all. But the first reader gets extra stars for making a very difficult text enjoyable, funny, easy to follow. There were four professors of German Literature, one from France, one from Italy, one from Spain, and one from England who just kept going to meetings and he made that fascinating. He is the reason I could get into this book--which was utterly rewarding.
I'm not much for Sci-Fi though I do enjoy Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut. So I hesitated to try this one. Until I heard someone read Chapter 1 on a Selected Shorts podcast and became intrigued. I thoroghly enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end.
The seemingly slow pace was perfect for the very interior quality of the story. We really get to know the main characters through their thoughts. The shifts of perspective among the characters were well timed, not confusing. I thought I might have trouble with the Japanese names so I started out writing them down but there was no need--they were different enough and each character had such unique distinguishing features that it was no problem!
In spite of--or because?--the characters are so odd, flawed, not totally consistent (consonant!) annoying even--. I would not have missed this for anything. Like dear friends who are sometimes exasperating, I hung in there with them, listening patiently. And, surprise, when the book came to an end, too quickly, I find I miss them terribly but was very glad they were part of my life.
Michael Ondaatje reads this memoir-like novel so lovingly it s a treat to listen to. in fact, I keep listening again and again to parts at random. In this way the book is a collection of magical stories and can be enjoyed in any order and repeatedly. The magic is in seeing the events unfold on the ship from the point of view of a curious and sensitive child.
Worthy of the prizes. Best narration. Amazing writing. Haunting story. The clash of the immigrant's hard working son and his suburban New Jersey daughter. An intimate portrait of a man's psyche told from the point view of a writer who knew him in his youth, the reader gets closer to a character than his wife or anyone else.
The part of me that loves good literature so amazed to read this, I probably would read it again. It was hard, though--to be left so sad.
I don't follow the stars, much--but read this because of all the rave reviews. I will say Rob is a good story teller. I listened all the way through. And all I thought at the end was, "Gee, Rob Lowe is such a nice guy". And he is. He doesn't name names. Doesn't gossip about his friends. Good qualities. But not a good story.
How can a writer and a reader together make an aging man's musings about his failing memory be so compelling? I asked myself, as I continued listening to the very end. There is a mystery to be solved. Why DID his ex-girlfriend's mother bequeath him a small legacy and the diary of an old friend? And what does his ex mean by saying "you just don't get it", and a haunting line from the diary. The book felt really true about what it is like to be aging and find out things are not as you believed. Good one. Satisfying.
I enjoyed reading this book. The minotaur? An unusual and appealing character. Yes, I've known people who did not use a lot of words. And people who have a past they would just-as-soon forget, and who are very neat and tidy with their things as a kind of protective ritual. The loneliness of living 5000 years, of outliving one's friends so many times was touching. The voice of the Minotaur--mostly expressive grunts was right on. The ending was a little weak for my taste, but I had a good time getting there--sometimes, that's enough.
Adiche has created a wonderful collection of stories, the characters very different and appearing in the context of different cultures. Some inhabit modern Lagos, others have remained in the rural areas of Nigeria, and at least three of them are immigrants to Philadelphia. One of my favorite stories is narrated by a writer who attends a Pan-African writer's conference, introducing a variety of characters from many countries and skillfully telling a story within a story.
The narrator has done an outstanding job of creating the voices of these characters in such a way that I had no trouble telling one from another. It was pure joy to hear her pronounce the African names. The book is much more than just a sum of the parts--it evokes the whole process of people transitioning from traditional ways into the world as it is becoming. Highly recommended!
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