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Chris

alameda, ca | Member Since 2004

48
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 11 reviews
  • 15 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 7 purchased in 2014
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  • On the Road: The Original Scroll

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jack Kerouac
    • Narrated By John Ventimiglia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (257)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (129)

    Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951 that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history.

    Chris says: "Stellar, if you know what you're getting into"
    "Stellar, if you know what you're getting into"
    Overall

    A delightful listen. Many reviewers here apparently did not know what they were listening to. This is not "On the Road"; this is an early version of that novel, much more stream-of-conscious and meandering, as typed on a single scroll with little sleep and many stimulants. The narrative structure of the originally published version seems a little questionable to me, and this is even more meandering, with interludes and characters that really go nowhere. But if you appreciated the beauty of the original (and as some of the negative reviewers surmised, learning how to have fulfilling, mature relationships is not one of the things you should come here for), hearing this considerably longer version is wonderful. "Artie Bucco"'s reading is a joy--I kept forgetting that I wasn't listening to Kerouac reading it. He really captures the spirit, and was one of the best matches between reader and material that I have heard.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Gary Marcus
    • Narrated By Gary Marcus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (77)
    Story
    (73)

    Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

    Alex says: "Entertaining if somewhat superficial"
    "Enjoyable account of our relationship to music"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a short but enjoyable account of how and why people play music. Centered around the author's quest to learn guitar as an adult, it touches on many aspects of learning and playing music. The author was an excellent reader. A couple of reviews complained that it didn't give them tips on improving their playing; that is no reason for a negative review, as the book doesn't promise that any more than it promises to teach you to ride a bike. I plan to read more books on this interesting topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By William S. Burroughs
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (163)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (90)

    Naked Lunch is one of the most important novels of the 20th century, a book that redefined not just literature but American culture. An unnerving tale of a narcotics addict unmoored in New York, Tangiers, and, ultimately, a nightmarish wasteland known as Interzone.

    Randy says: "OMG!"
    "Delightful rendition"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Today I started listening to this again as I was re-organizing my audio library, couldn't shut it off, and was shocked to realize that I didn't review this when I first heard it. About the book: It will horrify a significant portion of the population. It is full of brutality, filth, pedophilia, profanity, etc. If you don't know what you are getting into, beware. At its best, it is brilliant satire. I give the story one star because there is no story, but there is not supposed to be. The book will more many of those readers that it doesn't offend. It contains some tedious repetition, and passages that could probably only be interesting if one is as wasted on drugs as the author was when he wrote it. It also contains many brilliantly inspired passages and images that have endured through the years.

    The thing that kept me listening again today is the narration. Every narration is necessarily just one interpretation of a book, and Bramhall puts a unique stamp on this one. His voice is a drawl, I suppose spun off of Burroughs' own, but much more extreme. You might like it or you might not, but I found his style enjoyable when I got used to it. The best part of it is the voices that he gives to the various characters. These interpretations are brilliant and hilarious.

    I do most of my reading at bedtime, and was unable to finish reading this book because it gave me nightmares (as it reportedly did to Jack Kerouac when he helped transcribe the original text). The audiobook let me get through it during my commute. It made me forget the work day.

    The audiobook is highly recommended to those who understand what they are in for.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • David Copperfield

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1116)
    Performance
    (687)
    Story
    (695)

    Based in part on Dickens's own life, it is the story of a young man's journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among its gloriously vivid cast of characters, he e.ncounters his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; the frivolous, enchanting Dora; and one of literature's great comic creations, the magnificently impecunious Mr. Micawber.

    Darwin8u says: "More saints per capita than any book by Butler"
    "Great listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first Charles Dickens; I think the review "Dickens in Full Sentimental Mode" captures my reaction well. The characters were brilliantly drawn and vivid. I think it could have been trimmed a bit without being hurt, and a few of the resolutions of story lines and the happy ending did feel a bit contrived, but I loved spending time with these characters. I stand in awe of Simon Vance's narration, and wish I could shake his hand. By chance I listened to the interview with Lemony Snicket that's available (free) on Audible just as I started this novel. Snicket narrated three of his wonderful "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels but, as he describes in the interview, he found it the most grueling experience of his life and had to pass the job over to Tim Curry (too bad, as we loved Snicket's readings). He conveyed how very difficult it is to narrate a book, which made Vance's narration of Copperfield seem all the more awesome. Vance can do voices, and brought them all to wonderful life. All in all, a great listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Elie Wiesel
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2082)
    Performance
    (866)
    Story
    (877)

    Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel offers an unforgettable account of Hitler's horrific reign of terror in Night. This definitive edition features a new translation from the original French by Wiesel's wife and frequent translator, Marion Wiesel.

    Ella says: "This book consumed me"
    "Buy this now"
    Overall

    I scanned some reviews here and I see that others have said it more eloquently than I can, but I had to post my five-star review. I just finished this and it was an absolutely stunning book. I wondered ahead of time if such a very short book would tell me anything about this time that I hadn't heard before, but indeed I've never heard anything like this. Short, eloquent, and narrated by a voice that was absolutely perfect, it packed a huge punch, and left me thinking deeply about my love for my family and for others. As the author says, no one who has not experienced something like the camps can imagine it, but the book gave me a hint of the limits of human endurance, and left me thinking about how to better love my fellows in this world. One of the best listens/reads of all time for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Odyssey

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Homer
    • Narrated By John Lescault
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    In his perilous journey home after the Trojan War, Odysseus must pass through the land of the Cyclops, encounter Circe the Enchantress, and face the terrible Charybdis and the six-headed serpent Scylla.

    Chris says: "Great"
    "Great"
    Overall

    I never read the Odyssey in college or anywhere else, and found that it was becoming impossible to get through life without understanding all the references to it. The first time I started the audiobook (on my commute) I gave up and put it away for a while, due to what seemed a flood of unfamiliar names, son of so-and-so, etc. Recently I tried it again and after the first few minutes got quite pulled in. You have to be in the mood, and able to devote full attention since it is different from modern literature, but it is a stellar experience to finally hear this story, and I thought the narrator was excellent--just right for the material. Beautiful literature, beautifully presented.

    After this I wanted to hear him read The Iliad too, but now I gather that The Iliad is a lot harder slog than the Odyssey.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: Selected Letters of Richard Feynman

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Richard P. Feynman
    • Narrated By Richard Poe, Johanna Parker
    Overall
    (94)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    Few scientists have enthralled more people than Richard P. Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Six Easy Pieces and Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Beloved for his engaging character and zest for life, he is an American icon. In this selection of letters, Feynman's towering genius and singular personality shine like dazzling stars.

    Chris says: "Absolutely delightful"
    "Absolutely delightful"
    Overall

    This was one of the most enjoyable audio books I have listened to. The readers were fine, and the content was wonderful. Particularly memorable were the one-two punch of Feynman's letter to his mother describing the first atomic bomb test, followed immediately by a love letter to his wife Arlene, written more than a year after her death. Very moving. Other highlights for me were his advice to people to never stop pursuing the things in life that they are really crazy about. Feynman was a fine example of the great results that can come from doing that. I am a physicist, but the book is highly recommended to anyone who would like to spend some time with a great soul--no knowledge of physics required.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Dry: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Augusten Burroughs
    • Narrated By Augusten Burroughs
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (621)
    Performance
    (172)
    Story
    (172)

    At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten lands in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downey Jr. are immediately dashed by grim reality of fluorescent lighting and paper hospital slippers. When Augusten is forced to examine himself, he finds himself in the worst trouble of all. Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return to his same drunken Manhattan life - and live it sober. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power

    Heidi says: "Sobriety with a sense of style...."
    "Very worthwhile"
    Overall

    My first impression of this was that it was not as well-written as "Running with Scissors." (I heard that this was written first, even though it comes later chronologically, so "Scissors" may be a more mature work.) I very much warmed up to it, though. There are priceless descriptions of alcoholic craving, of the regrets and failures that feel impossible to face up to, and of the moment when one faces the pain, which is the first step toward recovery. As another reviewer stated, alcoholics/addicts will recognize it all, while others will learn something about the disease. Another reviewer stated that he emphasized his gayness and spent a lot of time talking about his sexual feelings; this was not the case. There were places where the writing didn't grab me, but the treasures scattered throughout make this an easy recommendation.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Mark R. Levin
    • Narrated By Jeff Riggenbach
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (457)
    Performance
    (90)
    Story
    (89)

    The Supreme Court endorses terrorists' rights, flag burning, and importing foreign law. Is that in the Constitution? You're right: it's not. But these days the Constitution is no restraint on our out-of-control Supreme Court. The Court imperiously strikes down laws and imposes new ones purely on its own arbitrary whims. Even though liberals like John Kerry are repeatedly defeated at the polls, the majority on the allegedly "conservative" Supreme Court reflects their views and wields absolute power.

    James says: "A concise account of an originalist viewpoint"
    "Double-Plus-Good Duckspeaker"
    Overall

    War is peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength!

    10 of 55 people found this review helpful
  • 1984

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Richard Brown
    Overall
    (622)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (80)

    The year 1984 has come and gone, yet George Orwell's prophetic nightmare vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "Negative Utopia", a startlingly original and powerful novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words.

    Erik says: "Good narrator, great book"
    "Essential"
    Overall

    I recently listened to this audiobook, about 30 years after last reading 1984. It was unbelievable how much of this book has come true. The novel provides great insight into modern politics and mass media, particularly under the Bush regime of 2000-2004. (I'm sure George never read it, but the people running things clearly studied it carefully.) Besides being prescient, it is also very well written for the most part. It drags a bit during a couple of long expository passages that provide background, but those minor offenses are easily forgiven. The audio was quite outstanding as well. Perfectly read. (Note to antother reviewer: I believe that the bad singing on the part of the reader was intentional.)

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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