Cotacachi, Ecuador | Member Since 2000
Despite listening to much of the Sedaris body of work, I realized I'd never heard the one that for many was their introduction to him. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" does not disappoint, offering both studio and live-audience readings as only he can deliver. The man who has been called "the world's most eloquent malcontent" (Amazon.com) and "Garrison Keillor's evil twin" (Publishers Weekly) offers a wide-ranging collection of observation and introspection--invariably hilarious, often poignant. Includes fascinating stories about learning to live in a village in Normandy, and much more.
By now, Stephen King has produced such a variety of books that he is increasingly difficult to pigeonhole. Fans of horror will find something closer to a classic detective story in “Mr. Mercedes,” and a good one. There’s the hard-bitten cop (retired), a truly demented criminal, and a range of characters who populate the twists and turns of a complicated whodunit. But in fact, we know whodunit pretty early on. What happens next, and what happens after that, is a nonstop series of surprises building to a heart-racing finale. Horror fans will find some pretty horrifying scenes, too.
A great story, and narrator Will Patton is up to the task. The subtle shading of his voicing for each character, even when not reading their actual dialogue, is a work of consummate skill.
If, like me, your childhood memories of Twain have dimmed, and you tend to think of Huckleberry Finn as “Tom Sawyer (continued),” you’re in for a treat. Tom Sawyer came first and often comes first to mind, but many consider “Huckleberry Finn” to be Twain’s real masterpiece. It’s a true opus of dialogue and social documentary, cloaked in grand boyish adventure on the mighty Mississippi at the peak of the steamboat age.
Elijah Wood is a fine actor who brings to Huck’s first-person story the credible voice of both innocent youth and hardscrabble cunning. Huck can plan an elaborate raid worthy of a general, yet fall for every superstition and witches’ tale that comes along. The book is peopled with a lively cast of dozens of accomplices, con men, doting relatives, townspeople and slaves and they, too, are all Mr. Wood.
And the fine hand of Mark Twain is there throughout, weaving more plot twists and unexpected developments than any other adventure book or movie ever could, always with his trademark humor. An excellent read of perhaps the greatest story by the best-known author America has ever produced. How can you go wrong? I really like this Signature Classics idea.
Wolf’s Head is an engaging story that combines some familiar characters with several new ones in a fresh take on the forest legend. Since Robin Hood’s real historical origins are shaky at best, it’s hard to question the accuracy of the plot. There is a wicked sheriff and more than a few evil noblemen, along with a host of villagers, relatives, and tradesmen who are only too willing to collaborate with the colorful outlaws. The action is often more brutal than the childhood versions we remember.
Steven A. McKay’s writing is colorful and descriptive, but often falls victim to ponderous adverbs that hamstring its flow. The plot moves briskly most of the time. Sometimes the prescient insights of Robin and others approaches the level of magic, but there is no Merlin in this story. Nick Ellsworth gives a warm and enjoyable reading with a light touch throughout. Wolf’s Head is the first in a series, so some threads are inevitably left hanging at the end.
Someone asked, “Why 1927?” The answer, of course, is, “Why not?” What may seem at first like a random year drawn from a hat is in reality a summer of superlatives, achieved by legends like Charles Lindbergh and Babe Ruth. But there’s also a wealth of surprising insight that’s new to most of us, about Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, Henry Ford and the greatest flood on the Mississippi in its history—not to mention scores of colorful eccentrics you never knew existed but will not soon forget. When the author reels off the fates of all his characters in the epilogue, you realize you've been following a cast of thousands.
Bill Bryson delivers a deeply researched and endlessly fascinating account as only he can, finding quirks and unearthing indelible meaning in one eventful season between the Great War and the Great Depression. It was a time like no other, and if America could get through it, it just might survive anything.
Paulo Coelho's tightly crafted little fable has become something of a contemporary classic in the nearly twenty years since it first appeared. It's a thought-provoking, somewhat mystical perspective on values--what really matters in life, and what really doesn't. The obvious things, it turns out, really don't, and anyone who pays close attention is likely to be better for the experience. The reading in the velvety voice of Jeremy Irons is perfect.
The word "epic" is thrown around a lot, especially by publicists. This is a rare case where it is wholly deserved.
I first read "Home Fires" around 15 years ago, discovering a monumental work that is really two ambitious books in one. It is the intimate, multigenerational story of a real American family, which in itself would be no small accomplishment. But then Don Katz uses the family saga as a framework on which he hangs the country's entire postwar social history. There is Vietnam, then folksingers and later rock 'n' roll, drugs, economic turmoil and our migration to the suburbs. It is related in such rich detail that countless throwaway sentences must have taken a week's research apiece.
As a new audiobook all these years later, "Home Fires" seems a new experience, somehow even more substantive and insightful than before. Narrator Joe Barrett weaves his way carefully through the twists and turns of each year, one after another. His voicing of characters is superb. Sure, all the Brooklyn males may sound more or less like Sam Gordon, but Mr. Barrett manages boys and girls, women, singers and prominent figures. His LBJ is passable, and his Richard Nixon pitch-perfect. Like the best of audiobooks, "the read" adds new dimensions to a remarkable work of journalism and literature. It's a long book. Totally worth it.
This is, as most reviews have said, a fascinating new take on an old favorite: Jekyll and Hyde from the perspective of a monster who becomes far less monstrous in the telling. He's no angel, either, but neither is Dr. Jekyll. It is a complex and inventive story, crafted in rich Victorian detail--a masterpiece of descriptive writing made better by the narration of John Curless, who seems to savor every word. It's another example of my favorite combination: an excellent book made even better in audio form.
This is a rarity for me--an audiobook that would better if you read it yourself. Fascinating subject and material that sparkles in comparison to conventional American history, but the reading is as deadly as the lecturer you no longer remember from college. I was looking forward to this one, but couldn't stay with it long at all.
David McCullough has crafted a warm and deeply human portrayal of Harry Truman, with generous attention to his early homespun upbringing, explaining so much about the remarkable man he would become. Ascending to the presidency with the sudden death of FDR, and scorned by most political observers, Truman proceeded to take one historic initiative after another: the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, NATO, the Korean conflict, and of course, the atomic bomb. It is impossible to come away without an appreciation of Truman’s critical role in the history of the Twentieth Century—and beyond.
McCullough is not only a superb historian and master storyteller, but also a marvelous narrator. He has always reminded me of the late John Chancellor of NBC. The writing, the historical depth and the narration combine to create an audiobook that seems to end much too soon.
It’s a simple, sinister plot with shades of the classic short story, “The Lottery.” One hundred selected teenage boys compete each year for a prize of unimaginable wealth by walking for days until only one of them is left. No stopping, no resting, no slowing down. Whenever one falls behind in the grueling march, he doesn’t just lose a shot at the prize; he is shot dead. Soldiers do the shooting and enforce the rules. An Orwellian government is implied but never detailed. All along the long route over back roads and highways, sometimes through cheering crowds and often alone together in the night, a little community develops among the characters, who both compete against and support each other in a struggle that all but one must lose. It is a long book – nearly 11 hours – and probably couldn’t fully impart the marathon nature of The Walk if it weren’t.
An interesting aside on grammar: In King’s book, “On Writing,” he rails against the over-use of adverbs, and suggests that the last step in writing a book is to go through and remove about half of them. Maybe it’s because I just heard that book, but in “The Long Walk” it seems like someone put them all back in, and quite a few more. Or maybe it’s because the fictitious Richard Bachman really does, as King claims, have a style of his own.
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