Carolina Beach, NC, United States | Member Since 2007
My first experience with McCammon was Swan Song and I was, quite frankly, amazed by it. When I saw that this was "historical" I spent some time reading reviews before I finally decided to download the first book. The word "historical" is usually a turnoff for me. I like my fiction totally fictional, but luckily the "history" in this book was so cunningly woven into the story and characters that it didn't distract me at all.
First, the author is an astoundingly good writer. His descriptions really give great mental visuals. Even his description of clothing, which would normally bore me a bit, seem to really aid in the character development. His turns of phrase are quite clever as well, and although much of the book is very dark in character, there are moments where I laughed out loud.
Second, this book is all about characters. The plot, as one reviewer said, is to some extent predictable: young hotshot figures everything out and all the establishment figures don't, and saves the beuatiful woman at the end. But think of the plot as just a scaffold on which the author hangs his truly beautiful prose and his deeply developed characters.
Third, Matthew Corbett is just a very likeable young man. Supremely intelligent but not arrogant, confident without being overbearing. The other characters vary from bland to horrific.
Once you get past the rather grand-sounding name (no offense intended at all, it's just that one could go a lifetime without meeting anyone called Edoardo Ballerini) the narrator is extremely talented. His job is made more difficult by the fact that there are so many characters in this book that he must keep separated. He does women's and even children's voices in a convincing manner, but seems never to intrude into the story.
Now I don't see how I can avoid downloading all of the books. I can only hope that somewhere down the line he comes back to Fount Royal and sees what's become of Bidwell and Rachel and the other charcters. I can heartily recommend this book. I'll check back when I've listened to the second one.
I agree with other reviewers who said this is not a lecture on Quantum mechanics -- thank God! It is a fascinating biographical story of things that happened, for the most part, almost a hundred years ago (or more) and are still very poorly understand and agreed upon by the brightest minds of our time. There is, in my opinion, just about the right amount of science to mix with the story. These people were amazing at the turn of the last century. There was one relatively small character in the book who had ELEVEN of his students later win a Nobel prize. You can't make this stuff up. A good read especially if you really like the history of science even more than the science itself.
I'm not sure what my expectations were. I'm a huge second amendment supporter and certainly right of center politically and I agree with the sentiment that guns don't kill anyone at all. I also think that I've never seen a murder on TV (except I guess I did see Jack Ruby shoot Oswald, come to think of it). There are no murders on TV or in the movies, of course. All that said, I guess I expected a more reasoned approach from Stephen King. Some of his novels get a bit preachy (usually on the lefty side of the aisle) but never enough to bother me much, and I was actually surprised to hear he was a gun owner. His arguments are pretty familiar and lame, however. I am still and will always be a fan, however. As he said in the introduction, I'm one of those who thinks he should stick to writing books. In this essay, he's either preaching to the (gun-control) choir, or whatever the opposite metaphor would be (can't think of one offhand).
This is a wonderful story, especially so when it sticks to the horse, the racing, and the people. Occasionally the author gets a little bogged down in lists of how much each horse won and the pedigree of various other horses. All in all, however, it's definitely worth the listen. The author can make a prose description of a horse race pretty exciting!
Whatever it is in Stephen King’s head that makes him a great storyteller was as near dead as he was for quite a while after his brush with the grim reaper. I guess this isn’t all that surprising; who wouldn’t be a little nonplussed when things got so bad that your own obituary was published in a newspaper? But most people’s work doesn’t leave their brain process so naked and exposed. A doctor, for example, after a hear-death experience, might have a lot of changes in his approach to life and work, but very few people would know about the changes, probably least of all his patients. The story-telling machine in King’s head, I submit, was severely damaged after his accident, but not dead. His works since then seemed to lack something, but it was hard, even for a fan like me, to really put a finger on what was missing. When I first read (listened to) Under the Dome, I thought more than once to myself, “He’s back!” And he was… almost. The ending of the book just kind of left me cold, so much so that it’s hard to remember now what even happened. When you read the blurb about 11-22-63 it says it’s about a guy who finds a time portal and goes back to attempt to prevent Kennedy’s assassination. That would have been a short story, but this book is about so much MORE, however. It’s about a man finding a place in the world where he is loved, and a woman who loves him SO much. There are the peripheral and parallel plots at which King is a master both in creating and in keeping straight in his, and therefore in his reader’s heads. And you don’t have to agree with the book’s political stance, which is subtle – but yes, it’s there – in order to enjoy reading/listening to it.
The interesting part about story-telling is that if you’re even a decent writer, if the story is there in your head, “all you have to do is write it down!” Admittedly that’s a little like saying that all you have to do in order to perform a heart transplant is “take the old one out and put the new one in, stupid!” I guess what it comes down to is that story telling, in the final analysis, is an art, and writing is basically a craft, and while “arts and crafts” are often fellow travelers, they aren’t the same thing. I don’t think King’s craft was hurt substantively in his accident, but his art, which seemed to have either left him, or least be pulling away from him, is back. A REALLY good book.
The narration is excellent; the reader does an fairly authentic Maine accent (I don’t have one, but heard one often enough to know), and seems to find distinctive voices for most of myriad characters that are so much a part of King’s novels. I never got tired of listening to him.
Before I say my piece, I’ll state that the book was very well written and the reader was excellent (he had many different accents to perform, even Russian, German, Yiddish and a few others and did well with all of them, to my ear). This book is, of course, really a downer, but when you realize that Bobby Fisher’s entire life, except for a few chess highlights like winning the national championship at age 13 and the World Championship in 1972, was indeed a real downer.
I for one, being an eager chess player but a real potzer in terms of skill, learned a lot from this book – just to list a few: the fact that he was married, the fact that he was incarcerated in Japan for several months and lived for several years in Iceland when a was a fugitive, for tax evasion and some other alleged violation of sanctions against a foreign country The author made it interesting without a lot of specific move notation and no diagrams at all (at least none in the audio edition ) and I think this makes the book understandable to a much wider audience. The almost meteoric rise of Fisher to the stratosphere of the chess world was in such stark contrast to the end of his life that the book couldn’t help having not only a sad ending, but a continually depressing entire second half. I guess I always wondered what really happened to Bobby Fisher, and now I know, I’m wondering if I can ever forget it.
I certainly hope so.
I’m going to try “Searching for Bobby Fisher” next and am hoping it can be an upper.
I think it is important that this is the ONLY audiobook to which I stopped listening after only an hour and never went back to. It just didn't seem that interesting. I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else -- maybe it's because I'm a fiction geek for the most part, and reality just doesn't interest me as much. Maybe I'll try it again later, but I cannot recommend this book.
Yes, I'm a guy, and yes I know this is a "chick" book, but normally I actually like "chick books," which are to me, very rich in characterization and detail. This one I could hardly finish. The alternating between 1942-3 and 2009 seemed almost as if two different authors wrote the stories. I've read several books which used this technique successfully, but this author just did not. While I cannot recommend the book, the narration was really quite good; she used several different voices and read with a lot of expression. I might well try other books read by her. Having spent time on Folly Beach myself (although never living there) sparked my interest in the book, but the local flavor, other than just some references to streets and such, weren't very intriguing either. I'll check and see if other books by the same author are available, and read the reviews a bit more carefully before I invest a credit again.
I wanted to like this book so much. I love long books, I love a series of long books. Overall, however, I'm very disappointed. Simmons is a very good writer, uses language well, etc. I don't mind the sex scenes, although they seem at times gratuitous and don';t add much to the characters, and may just be a bit much. The pilgrim's individual stories, for the most part, were good and, as another reviewer said, one (in my case the story of Rachel growing younger and losing her memories) was very emotionally moving for me. And I agree that one of the stories (the last one, I think) was a bit confusing and not very interesting. I frequently felt like I was not paying as close attention as I wanted to, and finally realized that what kept running through my head was "When does the REAL story start?" It does seem like this is a giant "back story" telling how these characters got to where they are presently. I would have preferred at least starting the action with what (I presume) is in the second book, and then flashback to these backstories, but that is a personal preference.
The ending is not what I'd want, but I guess the author and all the readers knew a sequel (or many) were coming. It didn't disappoint me nearly as much as Stephen King's ending to the Dark Tower series, but then again I enjoyed every single thing in the Dark Tower series EXCEPT the ending, so it's a little different matter.
I'm putting any further downloads of this series on hold for the moment. I might actually re-listen to part or all of Hyperion (fast-forwarding occasionally) and then decide if I want more.
Although I certainly am a rabid science fiction fan (among other genres) I'm not sure I knew this was classified as science fiction when I bought it. Although it takes place in some future where the understanding of brain chemistry and how to manipulate it is far advanced over today, this setting plays virtually no role in the story except to set up the protagonist's eventual decision to be "treated." This book is a character study of mildly mentally impaired man and although it may suffer, as other reviews have suggested, from a case of "over-doing it," it certainly gives the reader/listener a working knowledge of how a GROUP of such folks interacts with each other and the "normal" world.
What seems to be lacking, however, is PLOT. A lot of individual incidents happen to Lou and his compatriots, and we get to know probably a dozen characters very well, but the rest of the story seems a bit rushed. When I realized how little time was left in the book when Lou finally went in for the "cure", I knew that it was either going to end on the way into the operating room, or end entirely too quickly. The latter is certainly what happened; the part of the story after Lou's treatment was WAY too rushed. I wish another hour or two of more richly detailed plot had been inserted at this point.
All the above being said, however, my recommendation would be: if you like a really good character study, getting to know a person whose mind works a little differently from the average and learning that his personality is at least as rich and complex as any of the "normals," then buy this audiobook.
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