After hearing the terrific narrator Ron McLarty talk about how he felt this was a book written to be listened to, I had to agree. The story and charactors are clear and the sense of place cleanly defined. While there may not be a lot of depth to Smithy you get a great sense of exactly who he is and what he is about. Also there are holes in the narrative, but McLarty's prose and narration glide so smoothly over them, that you are swept along with Smithy as he travels the U.S. on his bike and traveling his past in his mind. What keeps this book from being great is perhaps the lack of real speed bumps and potholes that would have given the book a sense of tension. Still, the charactors we meet are well worth the visit
Can't say if I will continue with this series, but it does have potential. Kinda like those TV shows whose pilot episode always have too many characters and information, their was a lot of stuff happening that seemed extraneous but could be useful in later stories. Maybe I will give the next few books a chance. Always up for a decent wizard detective. Also it takes place in Chicago which is where I was born, so that's a plus.
Really, after listening to hundreds of books of the years (starting on tapes, then CD's then downloads), I rarely just give up. I mean if I could get through Roberto Bolaño's 39 hour "2666", I could get through most anything. But after 3 hours of "Brothers", I was just getting really annoyed and bored . Then, after reading past reviews and comments, I realized it wasn't going to get any better.
What drew me to "Brothers" in the first place, was the idea of looking at the changes in China over the past 50 years through the eyes of two different men. With such an awkward translation it was making no sense. Made the decision to just stop. Oh well.
Because Audible asks us about performance, I feel that I should bring it up. But first, because of a recent trip to Viet Nam, I decided to get and listen to this book. The story, itself, is remarkable and very prescient regarding American impending tragic and misguided involvement into Southeast Asia. But at it's heart, "The Quiet American" is a tale of two dissimilar men and their love for a beautiful Vietnamese woman. One man is an older British newspaperman saddled with a wife back in England. The other is a young, naive, low level, diplomat from Boston. The bonds, these two forge in friendship and rivalry, whether in a Saigon dance club or in the heat of battle, takes up the majority of this book.
Unfortunately, Joseph Porter, fails miserably on all accounts in his narrating. Aside from his stilted readings of prose that is both beautiful and exciting, his accents, age and sex differentiation's are atrocious. His Englishmen seem to all come from some strange middle-class. Fowler, the stories narrator, is a mid-fifties hard drinking and smoking Londoner and yet he sounds like bland radio personality. Pyle his rival and friend is even worse, sounding like a late forties mid-westerner with an sixth grade reading level. All the other characters just sound canned-spaggetti versions of real people.
Seriously, forget listening and read the book.
Audilble please redo this classic and terrific story with a much better voice.
I didn't know how Perry was going to sustain my interest for such a relatively long time, but he did. It's always fun to watch the hunter pursue the victim and then have the tables turn. In this case, the 'good' guy is only relative to an extremely depraved bad guy, (which can be traced to bad mothering) so our ending could never be in doubt. Still, a wily Chess game is always more enjoyable then Checkers. (Any good game metaphor works, excepted perhaps Bridge.)
After 36 hours, I just wanted this book to end! Part one was actually quite thrilling, but once story skipped ahead 99 years to a colony of people living a dystopian existence, I just could not hang on. Lots and lots of characters whose purpose never becomes clear and then get killed. Waited forever for second part of the story to catch up to beginning. Way way overwritten.
If you are really interested in learning what a 9/11 hijacker felt about America just before his 'big event', here's the book for you. (hint; he's conflicted about women and Americans.)
Otherwise join a group of emotionally damaged people as they go from one mistake to another. Each step is preceded by such deluded justification that it made me want to slap them. Like 'what part of essentially kidnapping a child from from a strip joint's parking lot and then giving her Benadryl to calm down' did you think was a good idea?
I rarely give up on books once I start, but boy, this was a challenge.
Lew Archer is one of the great noir LA detectives. This books starts him out on his journey, seeing the corrupt moneyed culture of Los Angeles circa 1950's. He is certainly up there with Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade (and a lot more stories). A good beginning. Well read.
I've either listen or read most of McMurty and love his easy going style, but this is such a minor story. the characters are really uninteresting. It's so unlike Mr. McMurtry I'm midway through and though I won't give up, it's taking an act of will.
While I think the actor Lindsey Crouse is very good (seen her in lot's of movies and TV), she was a very dull narrator. Still that could have been overlooked if the plot were not so predictable. I'm usually not great at guessing who the villian is, but in this case I was so far ahead of the lead detective Petra O'Conner and her sidekick Issac Gomez, that they began to look like fools. Way to much on their personal lives, which was pretty routine. Lots of glaring set-ups and silly false leads. Near the end, a booklet shows up to explain everything, just like out of an old melodrama, and I just thought Kellerman was really bored writing this one! Better to re-listen to "Billy Straight"
'Baker Towers" is a female centric take on one Polish Italian family whose lives are dominated by the coal mines of Bakerton, Penn. and the two towers of debris that the mines generate. After the death of their father, caused indirectly by the mines, the five Novack children are determined to escape his fate by running as far away as possible. Of course they are not able to go very far without being pulled back by family issues and their own guilt and loneliness. This all takes place during W.W. Two and it's aftermath. America is changing and the role of men and women are changing also. I have read this tale a lot, but usually it doesn't fail to gripe me. This time 'Baber Tower' misses the mark by a mile.
Unlike John O'Hara's best novels about the upwordly strivings people of the working class in the mining towns of Pennsavania, the Novak children are a pretty boring bunch. We watch them go from loveless marriage's to self imposed alienation without generating a flicker of independence. Even after one daughter defies convention and becomes the lover of a divorced man, she does it in such secrecy and with so little passion that it's hard to feel any interest. All the characters are so poorly drawn that I found myself confusing who was who even after seven of it's eight hour or so length.
While I usually like female narrators more then men, Anna Fields was not even up tp differentiating the woman from each other. I don't even think it was her fault. They all sounded and acted alike.
All in all a waste of my time.
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