I admire Alan Arkin as an actor immensely so I was very excited to listen to his memoir narrated by himself. Unfortunately I came away disappointed. Arkin comes across as a very serious man, seriously dedicated to the craft of acting. He gives away little about his personal life and his highs and lows and mainly discusses his professional career in sometimes boggling detail. If you are an aspiring actor this memoir will give you incredible insights into the work required to hone the craft. If you are not an aspiring actor but looking for an entertaining memoir then you might find this somewhat disappointing. Arkin provides almost no anecdotes regarding the many movies he's made and the many actors he's worked with. He does provide blueprints for how to be seriously obsessed with being the best actor you can be.
This is not so much an autobiography, although there are autobiographical features, rather it is Gabriel Byrne recounting random pictures in his head of his experiences in life, whether in Dublin or New York. My mother came from the same part of Dublin as himself so the accent and story telling of the Irish community had a poignant familiarity to me. This is one of the best examples of an author reading their own works that I have come across. Byrne has an incredible facility for impersonation. If you're looking for a straight autobio from Byrne this is likely to disappoint. However if you're looking to listen to an Irishman muse on what's most important in life and the contrasts between their youth and their adulthood then this will appeal. It is a joy to listen to Byrne's voice paint the pictures in his head. It becomes clear that this is partly a gift from Byrne to his children, telling them about the experiences that shaped him.
Fry's delightfully plummy voice discusses the uses and misuses of the English language in consultation with assorted experts. Many quips from Fry and many "I did not know that" moments about the origin of English expressions. You're unlikely to want to listen to this series more than once but it's a most diverting listen for a long drive.
I've read the original book and the audible edition is substantially abridged from the original book. Unnarrated in the audible edition are accounts of Evans whoring, cocaine addiction, criminal trials and possible connections with organised crime. In other words, your grandma can safely listen to the audible edition. And worth a listen it is. Evan's voice is incomparable and his ability to mimick the characters he discusses is highly amusing. This is a very, very entertaining listen. But if you want the full account of Evan's highs and lows then read the book.
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