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Len

Cambridge, MA, USA | Member Since 2007

23
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 17 reviews
  • 33 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 16 purchased in 2014
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  • Dearly Devoted Dexter: Dexter, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Jeff Lindsay
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (168)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (160)

    Dexter Morgan has been under considerable pressure. It’s just not easy being an ethical serial killer - especially while trying to avoid the unshakable suspicions of the dangerous Sergeant Doakes (who believes Dexter is a homicidal maniac... which, of course, he is). In an attempt to throw Doakes off his trail, Dexter has had to slip deep into his foolproof disguise. While not working as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department, he now spends nearly all his time with his cheerful girlfriend, Rita....

    Jane says: "Good because it’s wacko different."
    "Unfilmable horrors!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unlike the other reviewers, I like the author's narration -- its "fakeness" is exactly what makes it work for me, because Dexter himself is nothing if not a fake in life.

    The plotting of volume 2 is better than that of 1. But listeners should be warned that the major culprit of this installment (what the TV show creators call the "Big Bad") is so horribly vile, his crimes so absolutely repulsive, that he gives the evil doctor in the Human Centipede a run for his money. I almost retched when I heard the crimes described.

    I can't imagine this kind of horror being filmed, and I am grateful to the TV show creators for not attempting it. Beyond the understandable squeamishness, there's another reason for deviating from Lindsay's storyline, which is that the TV Dexter is actually fully human, so the evils done by the perps don't have to be exaggerated to justify Dexter's actions. Lindsay's Dexter insists so much on not feeling emotions or belonging to the human race that he has to make the Big Bad that much worse. This makes for a much less interesting character than the one portrayed on the TV show.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Herzog

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Saul Bellow
    • Narrated By Malcolm Hillgartner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (88)

    Winner of the National Book Award when it was first published in 1964, Herzog traces five days in the life of a failed academic whose wife has recently left him for his best friend. Through the device of letter writing, Herzog movingly portrays both the internal life of its eponymous hero and the complexity of modern consciousness.

    Chris Reich says: "Grows Within You"
    "Semi-smart, very touching novel of ideas"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In which Bellow presents us with the perpetually outraged, perpetually pampered Herzog. I kept thinking that the book is the male writer's answer to the sophisticated romance novel - Herzog is offered delicious food, love, and great sex by a series of beautiful, intriguing women. A utopian fantasy, isn't it? The only problem is that Herzog is hung up on one of these women, his second ex-wife Madeleine, a meretricious academic wannabe and Jew-turned-Catholic (horrors, according to Herzog!). From the reader's point of view, Madeleine's reason for being is clear enough - she is one of the most unforgettable villains in literature, along with her strange associate Valentine. Bellow's examination of the folie a deux that connects Madeleine and Valentine is more fascinating than the most twisted reality show. But the main character's reason for being is less clear - okay, he's a fully sketched human being, but why should Herzog be interesting enough to narrate this novel? He mostly isn't; he writes countless letters puffed up with pseudo-learning and philosophical gibberish. In the end, the writing is lovely enough to carry you through to the end, but the book's reason for being was not always clear to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Visions of Utopia: Philosophy and the Perfect Society

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Fred E. Baumann
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Professor Fred E. Baumann looks at what some philosophers have had to say on this subject, mostly in the form of stories about utopias. Five are written by great philosophers and the last by a challenging, nearly contemporary American scholar. All have exerted great influence on the history of thought or have expressed influential currents of thought. Professor Baumann's lectures not only examine these texts, but also address the results of attempting to put these utopias into practice.

    Len says: "Provocative and stimulating, albeit conservative"
    "Provocative and stimulating, albeit conservative"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the most engaging and provocative entry in the "Modern Scholar" series. Despite the huge differences that divide my view of politics from Baumann's (I consider myself much more left-leaning), I was challenged by his strong arguments, which are very difficult to refute. He is particularly harsh on Rousseau and Marx, and you can feel a conservative animus driving his critique of Rousseau in particular (his stunning advice about how to read Rousseau at the end of the last lecture about him is much worthier than the critiques that precede it). But it's an animus, not a bias; he's passionate about the material, and communicates his sense of the stakes with piquancy and concision. He gives all the thinkers under consideration their due, without using the occasion as a personal soapbox. He even has some memorable one-liners. And that's everything that one could ask for from a professor.

    N.B. You can probably tell from my review that the title of Baumann's course is misleading. This course isn't about the question of human perfectability, let alone about utopian literature. It's about some classic theorists' attempts to eliminate the contingency of politics and the (mostly disastrous) efforts that result.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Ha-Joon Chang
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (537)
    Performance
    (407)
    Story
    (403)

    If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.

    Sean says: "A shallow and destructive book"
    "Bullet point style doesn't work well for audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I thought "Bad Samaritans," another book by Chang also available here, was the best nonfiction audiobook I have listened to, so I was happy to have the chance to listen to "23 Things" as well.

    This one is a bit of a disappointment as an audiobook, because it relies on a "bullet point" style, with headlines announcing the received economic wisdom and then Chang's refutations. This probably makes for a visually appealing book, but it doesn't work so well in the audiobook format, and I found myself getting lost quite a bit.

    The audiobook reader doesn't help by over-enunciating phrases which often the points Chang is actually trying to refute. The reader sounds a bit like Casey Kasem delivering a Top 40 list, which detracted from the seriousness of Chang's ideas.

    As a complete stranger to economics, I learned much from this appealing book, but I had to rewind often to follow the flow of the argument. I may just check out the physical book from the library instead of trying to listen to it again.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Dexter Is Delicious

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Jeff Lindsay
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1389)
    Performance
    (567)
    Story
    (568)

    Dexter is experiencing some major life changes - don't we all? And they're mostly wrapped up in the eight-pound curiosity that is his newborn daughter. Family bliss is cut short, however, when Dexter is summoned to investigate the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl who has been running with a bizarre group of goths who fancy themselves to be vampires. As Dexter gets closer to the truth of what happened to the missing girl, he realizes they are not really vampires so much as cannibals.

    Amazon Customer says: "Odd even for Dexter, but enjoyable!"
    "True to form"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    ***Spoilers*** This installment of Dexter faithfully continues the storyline from #4 ("Dexter in the Dark"), which was probably the best in the series. Lindsay does a good job of characterizing Dexter as a family man gradually discovering his humanity. As if that weren't disgusting enough, he shows Deborah becoming an expectant mother as well. Luckily, Dexter's brother returns to remind the main character of his duties to his "dark passenger." The strength of this installment is that Lindsay does the most soaring writing of the series; there are a lot of gorgeous sentences. But the absurd cannibalism plot is all too reminiscent of the human-sacrifice story of the low point in the series, #3 ("Dexter in the Dark"). This will be a necessary listen for anybody who likes the series, but probably more for completist reasons than for the innate value of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dexter by Design

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Nick Landrum
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1262)
    Performance
    (640)
    Story
    (632)

    After a joyous honeymoon in Paris, Dexter is feeling pretty normal. But when a corpse is found displayed on a Miami beach, Dexter realizes another killer is on the loose.

    Russell says: "Is there a such thing as 'too graphic'?"
    "Go straight from #2 ("Dearly Devoted") to this one"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    After the boring, repetitive, and rambling Dexter #3 ("In the Dark"), "Dexter by Design" represents a return to form for the author, as well as a major improvement for performer Nick Landrum, who sounds a lot better than in #3. It's like #3 never happened; everything just picks up from #2. I found this to be the funniest entry in the series, as Lindsay's satirical eye focuses on the excesses of the two worlds of art and tourism. If you have ever witnessed performance art, you'll laugh a lot. It's great satire. If you want deep reflections on the relationship between life and art, though, don't look here -- this ain't Marcel Proust. Good entertainment all around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dexter in the Dark

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Nick Landrum
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1388)
    Performance
    (554)
    Story
    (548)

    A blood spatter analyst for the Miami police, Dexter has seen his share of gruesome deeds - and committed a few himself. But when he investigates a particularly terrible crime scene at a local university, everything changes.

    James says: "Different Direction"
    "Dexter Is Disoriented"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I liked volumes 1 and 2 in the series, but this one is a complete disappointment. Dexter is disoriented from having lost his dark "powers," which should make the story suspenseful, but it's not. I never felt Dexter was in danger. Part of the problem is the author, who allows his narrator to ramble through a lot of vague philosophizing, and part of the problem is the new reader in the series, who sounds flat, and is excruciatingly slow: I had to turn it up to 3x speed to make it halfway engaging. The only things that kept me listening is my desire to hear the rest of the series, as well as the occasional spots of humor, such as the semi-funny wedding caterer and Dexter's spot judgment on himself: “I wasn’t schizophrenic. Both of us were sure of that.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter: Dexter, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Jeff Lindsay
    • Narrated By Jeff Lindsay
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (284)
    Performance
    (269)
    Story
    (267)

    Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened - of himself or some other fiend.

    Jane says: "This was fun because it was different."
    "Better prose than plot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Beyond question, Jeff Lindsay can write really good sentences, even better than Poe could, who seems to be one of his inspirations. He's also come up with an engaging narrator/hero-villain here. He also reads his own prose really well (I usually get annoyed by authors who don't use professional readers, but Lindsay does it well).

    But the plot development is clumsier than it is on the TV show, probably in large part because the author has restricted everything to Dexter's point of view. The final scene of the novel pales by comparison with the brilliant finale of the TV show.

    That said, I came away from this wanting to listen to more of Lindsay's work - because of, not despite, its difference from the TV show.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Ha-Joon Chang
    • Narrated By Jim Bond
    Overall
    (131)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (57)

    With irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a battery of real-life examples, Ha-Joon Chang blasts holes in the "World Is Flat" orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and other neo-liberal economists who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open international trade can lift struggling nations out of poverty.

    Joshua Kim says: "Would Be Better As An Article"
    "Brilliant as history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Chang has written a fine corrective to the reigning conservative tradition of developmental economics. The strengths of his approach are a grasp of the long duree of historical development (which doesn't usually figure in most economic theory), a strong narrative style (as evidenced in his account of South Korea and the "science fiction" with which he imagines Mozambique's rise to prosperity), and the witty use of detail (the reconstruction of how Germans and Japanese were widely regarded as stereotypically "lazy" in the nineteenth century is both interesting and historically accurate). His historical depth allows his view to avoid doctrinaire claims -- he certainly doesn't argue that protectionism is always good. There are not a lot of weaknesses, other than the fact that he is too quick to discount culture and religion as factors in economic development. (He should take Weber more seriously.) I would have liked to see the historical range pushed back even further -- the paradoxical connections between the rise of the bourgeoisie and absolute monarchy could be another support for his argument. I will definitely be looking for other books from this provocative thinker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Henry Louis Mencken
    • Narrated By Charlton Griffin
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Mention the name of Friedrich Nietzsche almost anywhere and you are apt to receive a strong emotional response, either negatively or positively. Few persons will say they have no opinion. And for good reason. Employing some of the most withering attacks and scathing criticism conceivable against, among other things, Christianity, education, government, Wagner, and the judicial systems of his day, Nietzsche was a one-man wrecking ball of European society in the latter half of the 19th century.

    Len says: "Interesting introduction to Mencken"
    "Interesting introduction to Mencken"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Mencken deserves credit for having written a book on Nietzsche at a time (1908) when almost nothing was available to English readers in translation. As an introduction to Nietzsche, however, this book is not very credible; it relies heavily on the distortions perpetuated by his sister, and does not really get into the works that more recent readers of Nietzsche treasure (The Genealogy of Morals, "The Uses and Abuses of History"). The person who's never read Mencken before (like me) will find the book valuable as a reflection of post-Victorian America, where Social Darwinism and outright racism abounded, both of which are to be found in Mencken's account. Charlton Griffin channels Mencken pretty well, embellishing the prose with oratorical and sarcastic flourishes that will definitely annoy some listeners and please others. All in all, there's not much Nietzsche to be found here, so I guess you have to take what you can get.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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