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David Harris Mitchel Grp

Kingston Springs, tn United States | Listener Since 2001

10
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 9 reviews
  • 11 ratings
  • 820 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2014
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  • Loitering with Intent

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Muriel Spark
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    "How wonderful to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century," Fleur Talbot rejoices. Loitering about London in 1949, with intent to gather material for her writing, Fleur finds a job "on the grubby edge of the literary world", as secretary to the odd Autobiographical Association. Are they a group of mad egomaniacs, hilariously writing their memoirs in advance, or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? Rich material, in any case.

    Cariola says: "As Good As Pym--Maybe Better!"
    "A strange outing for Muriel Spark"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I won't say much about Nadia May here; she is reliably fine with every aspect of her reading, as she always is.

    But the book is rather odd, even for Muriel Spark, who usually has more than a touch of the odd in her stories and characters. Right through to the end, I could not be certain about the nature of Fleur Talbot, the narrator and protagonist. She is, of course, a novelist, a professional liar, so we should be suspicious of her from the start. But I could never quite decide if she's just a little self-aggrandizing or completely unreliable in giving us the connections between her novel, Warrender Chase, and the novel (or, within the fictive universe, memoir) she is recounting.

    It's possible, I suppose, that (SPOILER ALERT) Sir Quentin is just crazy enough to pattern his fate after that of Talbot's Chase, but only a slight adjustment of the dates (and the book was not published until some months after Sir Quentin's odd death) would be required for the novel to have been patterned after, or revised into the pattern of, the events of Talbot's life.

    And, of course, we have no information other than what Fleur gives us, and that includes a good deal aout how everyone (or nearly everyone) around her is lying and manipulating the facts to make themselves look good, or make Fleur look bad.

    It is, as the bard says, a puzzlement. But it is also great fun, as Spak always is, and well worth the listen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Christine Falls: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Benjamin Black
    • Narrated By Timothy Dalton
    Overall
    (748)
    Performance
    (315)
    Story
    (310)

    It's not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It's the living. One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse, and concealing the cause of death.

    Stephen McLeod says: "Great Listen"
    "Mystery without apologies"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm not really a big fan of mysteries, but there are a few authors I'll read: Kate Wilhelm for the characters, Ellis Peters for the backgrounds, Tony Hillerman for the textures of Navajo life. Now I can add Benjamin Black to the list. Unsurprisingly (in his other identity of John Banville, he is a Booker Prize-winning literary novelist), Black writes fine novels that happen also to be mysteries.

    Some level of mystery is an element of most literary novels. How will the protagonist resolve this problem? But Quirk, Black's hero in this series, is a pathologist, the man who does the post-mortem on patients and on his own sins, as he sees it. He is, in fact, no more a sinner than the rest of us, but being an Irish Catholic in the 1950's, he feels it more strongly. And it is his character that keeps us enthralled from book to book.

    The mystery here is more than sufficiently complex, but it is used as a vehicle for a portrait of a world, of the power elite of a place and time that was no more or less corrupt than any other. Even the villains are human, and get to speak for themselves.

    Actually, Timothy Dalton speaks for them, and there are few readers who are better than he. Don't think of him as James Bond, but as, say, the young king of France in The Lion in Winter, and you'll get an idea of just how fine an edge he brings to these books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A Damsel in Distress

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By P.G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (178)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (29)

    Strange things are happening at Belpher Castle. For starters, the Earl's sister is intent on pairing off her stepson, Reggie, and niece, Lady Patricia (known as Maud). Maud, however, is in hot pursuit of Geoffrey Raymond, and she is also being pursued by the unacceptable composer, George Bevan.

    Christine says: "Very Entertaining!"
    "Wodehouse! What more do you need?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I suppose there may be bad performances of Wodehouse's books, but I haven't run across any of them. And the late, great Frederick Davidson was one of his best interpreters. This book, made into arguably the most bizarre of all Wodehouse films (it features Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Gracie Allen), has the same basic story as most of them: boy meets girl, falls in love, and faces silly obstacles. But it isn't the destination, it's the journey, and this one is a ride like Space Mountain.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Human Stain

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Philip Roth
    • Narrated By Arliss Howard, Debra Winger
    Overall
    (454)
    Performance
    (47)
    Story
    (45)

    It is 1998, the year in which America is whipped into a frenzy of prurience by the impeachment of a president, and in a small New England town, an aging classics professor, Coleman Silk, is forced to retire when his colleagues decree that he is a racist. The charge is a lie, but the real truth about Silk would have astonished his most virulent accuser. Browse other Philip Roth on audible.com.

    David says: "Delve into the characters"
    "I'm a sucker for Zuckerman"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Granted, Zuckerman is in the background of this novel, the narrator who puts together the complex story of Coleman Silk, distinguished professor at a small liberal arts college in New England. But the Zuckerman books are all about identity and assimilation, and Silk has concealed his identity so well and for so long that he is ultimately the victim of his own success. And really, who would suspect anyone of passing for Jewish in a culture (American in the Fifties) where Jews were not much liked? But Roth faces up to a different American racism in this novel than in some of the other Zuckerman books, to look at the cost of escaping it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Vanity Fair

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By William Makepeace Thackeray
    • Narrated By Jill Masters
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (7)

    Becky Sharp, a willful, resourceful, and charming pleasure-seeker, uses her finishing school credentials and connections to get a job as a governess. In her new position, she wins the hearts of the moneyed young and old and is soon living well beyond her means. Meanwhile, her boarding-school friend Amelia Sedley is honest but poor and must give her son into the care of his grandfather, who will have nothing to do with her. The two meet up again at the novel's ironic climax.

    Lissa says: "Improved quality recording?"
    "Second time was the charm"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first time I tried to listen to this, I just couldn't do it. But I had been told it was a classic, so I gave it another shot, and this time I picked up on the irony -- that Becky Sharp, the one everyone pities and scorns, is really the finest person in the story -- and that is the quality that makes it a classic. The reading is good and unobtrusive, letting this "novel without a hero" make its acute social observations through Thackeray's opinionated narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mansfield Park

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Flo Gibson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (105)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    One of Jane Austen's most complex and mature works, Mansfield Park shows the writer at the top of her form, tackling the manners and customs of early 19th-century society with wit and irony that still resonate with readers two centuries after the book's initial publication. Flo Gibson's compelling narration gives perfect voice to the trials and tribulations of Fanny Price, sent at a young age to live with her rich relations.

    Michael says: "Wonderful story !"
    "Jane Austen done right"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    One of the great pleasures of Jane Austen is how she uses her cool, cultured tone to set up the little digs she takes at her characters. Flo Gibson catches that slight air of detachment. And, of course, it's Mansfield Park -- maybe not Jane's best (I'm sure there are arguments about that), but still Jane, and any Jane is better than almost everyone else.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Borgel

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr)
    • By Daniel M. Pinkwater
    • Narrated By Daniel M. Pinkwater
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    Mary Kyle says: "Borgel"
    "Great, but incomplete"
    Overall

    I think the previous reviewer may have been confused by the fact that the recording, not the story, ends unexpectedly. The printed book has a lot more to the story than the abrupt ending in the file I downloaded.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Service with a Smile

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By P.G. Wodehouse
    • Narrated By Nigel Lambert
    Overall
    (62)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    The description of his ancestral seat as an earthly Paradise would, at present, have struck its proprietor as ironical, full as it was with unwanted and troublesome inhabitants. What Lord Elmsworth needed above all was a rugged ally at his side to remove from Blandings its superfluous guests, leaving him in peace to tend to his beloved pig, Empress of Blandings. However, when Lord Ickenham is on a sweetness-and-light-spreading expedition, there's always apt to be trouble.

    Shannon says: "Pair with _Uncle Dynamite_ to double your pleasure"
    "Two Earls in One"
    Overall

    If you like Wodehouse, you'll like this. If you don't like Wodehouse, you won't. If you've never read Wodehouse, this is a pretty decent introduction.

    Two of his regular characters -- the earls of Ickenham (Uncle Fred) and Emsworth -- come together in various interlocking plot lines that involve (of course) attempts to purloin a pig, to get money out of tightfisted relatives, and to overcome the obstacles to true love. It's fluff, but brilliant fluff, and the reading, while not my favorite Wodehouse reader (Frederick Davidson or Ian Carmichael), is quite fine.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Down and Out in Paris and London

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Patrick Tull
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (182)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (50)

    Jessica says: "Good theater"
    "Orwell's Non-fiction Classic"
    Overall

    George Orwell seems to be best known now for two of his novels, but most of what he wrote and published was non-fiction. We don't have Homage to Catalonia (his memoir of the Spanish Civil War) available, but we can hear this superb reading of his interpretation of his experience with poverty. It is unapologetic and unromanticized, detailing the Depression-era strategies that he, and so many others, used to survive hard times. In Paris he takes a menial and degrading job as a plongeur (pot-washer) in a restaurant; returning home to Britain to take an editorial job, he must fill in the month before the job starts by going on the bum, hiking from one shelter to the next, kept on the move by restrictive regulations. Orwell's prose is always a treasure (connoisseurs will already know his essay, "Politics and the English Language"), and Patrick Tull may be the perfect reader of Orwell, understanding the music and the meaning of the text.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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