South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010
I returned to this modern classic not really expecting it to live up to my memory of its bite, cleverness and the inventive use of the absurd. I was pleasantly disappointed (a contradiction that might have pleased Heller). The bite is as sharp as it was in the early 80's, when I first read the book. The years, the wars and the cynicism of the last 20 years have not dulled the edge of the humour or the social criticism of the war, victors and who really gets the spoils. In fact, it is probably more pogninant today when more and more young people side with Yossarian to opt out of military service. As he reminds us, we would be crazy not to do the same!
I listened and re-listend to numerous passages (just as I would re-read a book with a clever passage) to dwell in the comic wit and cleverness. I had forgotten Milo Mindbender's explanation for the Syndicate buying at 7c and selling at 5c for a profit. It is Abbott and Costello genius of a "Who's on First" level. I have "marked" passages for the future, too.
As for the narrator, I have to say I oscillated from huge fan to disappointed. His Col. Cathcart and General Dreedle are outstanding, as is his pidgeon Italian. But Yossarian just didn't hit it for me until the 2nd part (by which time I had become accustomed to it). Unfortunately, (or fortunately), I still hear Alan Arkin. Maybe the general narration was too close to Yossarian - I'm not sure. Another reader might not suffer from this limitation, so perhaps my view is a bit unkind. Still, I liked the performance enough to keep going (like Nately's whore). I suspect you will too.
It is always hard to know where to make your pitch. This must be true of every non-fiction title, but I expect it is particularly true of physics. One can't get any more iconic than the formula at the heart of this title, but very few of us know what it really means or why it is so important. I got interested in finding out about the time reports were leaking out of CERN about a particle that was faster than light. I thought it was time to turn to Cox and Forshaw for help (again). Of course they supplied the answers, but pitched at a level that was a bit too general for my liking. I was having fun with the maths (now that I don't need to pass exams) and getting into the dimensions they explore in the text when, suddenly I couldn't follow the math myself and I read the dreaded words (or words to the effect of), "take it from me, if you do the maths, this is the result". I wanted to do the maths. So, i ordered the hardcopy from Amazon, hoping it would be filled with lots of nice tables, diagrams and appendices. There are some diagrams, but the detail is omitted. That's fine of course for where the authors pitched the text, but I was a bit disappointed. I of course went out and got Physics for Dummies (or something akin to it), then went onto a text book and now I'm happy and ready to write this review.
The rub is, if you know nothing and are happy with something, then you'll be well pleased with this. If you want to do the math (like me) then it's a beginning, not an ending.
Jeff Forshaw reads the title with interest and is easy to listen to. No problem with the performace, at all.
Hannah Kent has a very bright future if this introduction is anything to be guided by. So, it is all the more remakable that she begins with such a dark subject. Add to this her youth (28 at present) and one can only wonder how she found the insight into the death throes of her protaginist, Agnes. Perhaps it is her age itself, close as it is to the unfortunate Agnes that loaned her the foresight.
In fact there are many principals in this debut novel; Agnes, the Jonsson family that are forced to harbour her, the assistant reverend Toti that is called to be her confessor, Natan (one of the two victims murdered and for which Agnes and two others are condemned) and the hot headed Frederick, a co-accussed. Also, the unforgiving Icelandic winter is a living character. It suprises me that each of these are developed in a pleasingly short space, with a careful use of language that wastes no words.
It is hard to say I liked the subject matter, but I can easily say I appreciate the skill with which this novel was written. It is a 3.5 star story, really, but again halves are not an option. I balanced this out with the overall 4 given the excellent reading by Morven Christie.
Of course, Ms Kent is a local of Adelaide, from which I hail, and this might have unconsciously effected by judgment, but I think not. I can objectively say this book is not for you if you are looking for a fun read or a ripping adventure. Similarly, it has a feel of "The Piano" (the Jane Campion movie), so if you "enjoyed" that, you will possibly like this title. This quality is enhanced by the performance of Christie. Her characterisation of Agnes is wonderful.
In years to come, you who read this might be pleased to say you read it, and read it before Kent is a well known name. I trust there is more to come.
A good indication of the worth of a series is that each title is an improvement on the one before. Although this might not be the case in a planned trilogy, for example, it must surely be true of a hero or heroine or, as in this case, an anti-hero. Harry is better in this book, there is closure in this book anf Nesbo is cleverer this time too. Just when you think it's Langdon scurrying around out there in a demonic world, you find it might just be Nesbo yanking your chain! Or not?
I enjoyed the adventure of Harry Hole's 5th spin around the block. I enjoyed the quiet familiarity of recognised characters and their continued development. Most of all I enjoyed Barrett's performance and, as foreshadowed in "Nemesis", this has brought a clean sweep of 4s.
Finally, now about half way through the published titles, I am pleased with the decision to start at the beginning. I am looking forward to Book 6. That, I think, remains the best recommendation I can give.
This historical search for the lost Second Book of Aristotle and the murderer of seven monks follows a labyrinthine path, like the rooms of the library the monks have sworn to protect. Now, 30 years since it was first translated into English, the pace seems too slow for modern tastes (compared to, say, "Wolf Hall"). The amount of detail is comparable, if not in excess of other very good historical fiction, but the "care factor" is lower. I have commented before that I never though that I could like Cromwell until I read Wolf Hall. I'm afraid I simply have no care for the dead monks, or even William of Baskerville (whom I pictured as Sean Connery throughout, although the narrator, Adso, I saw as no Christian Slater; more a minion than a martyr). I found the tale too dense, the characters unappealing (even the ones that you suspect you're meant to dislike, like Bernado Gui, the inquisitor) and the discourses too frequent to maintain the pace of the investigation. That investigation takes seven days, but it took me considerably longer to listen to the whole title. None of this can be laid at the feet of Sean Barret, who performs the roles with dexterity and good character differentiation. I wanted to like this more than I did and I suspect I will be condemned as a Philistine for the overall rating, but it simply was not my cup of poison.
It is difficult for me to think of a better version of this wonderful piece of verse (A Play for Voices). It begins at the beginning, with Dylan Thomas' fantastic ear and his fisheye for detail; and then continues on with the soothingly lyrical tones of Richard Burton, as only he can sound. It concludes with a whimsical quip, leaving the listener ever longing for just one more verse of all those lovely voices.
I first listened to this as a young boy on long drives to the beach, marvelling at the words and the voices that match so perfectly. It still conjures up for me those times and brings a smile or a frown, as if on cue. It is a little piece of heaven to be treasured. I would give it a perfect score, but alas, the technology cannot impose what the original had not; and perhaps, that's the way it should be. I can almost here Van Morrison, that more recent Gaelic poet, crooning just that!
I was recommended this title by a friend with the introduction that Silva is allegedly Bill Clinton's favourite writer of thrillers. I can see why. The plot is fast paced, the characters are alluring and the dichotomy between good and bad is starkly written. It is this last part I found disturbing. Terrorism is hard to define ("one man's terrorist is another's patriot" and all that) but you know it when you see it. By contrast, it's easy to define retribution for what it is. The justification for revenge is always hard to rationalise and even harder in a global context. Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Tamil, Beruit, Munich. It's a never ending list where Hammurabi's Code dictates ever more escalating responses. So you can see it and know it for what it is. Somewhere, does it shade into terrorism? Hard questions with harder answers. The problem for the listener of this book is that these questions lie just barely below the surface. I found it hard to read without thinking about them. Perhaps I should just chill out and read it for the exciting story that it is, but I could not.
I think the book would make a very successful film (and I understand that at least something is planned to this effect). The performance is strong and well paced. Armstrong reminds me of the narrator for Air Crash Investigation, too. That added to the tension! If you can read without thinking, I suspect you will like this title.
The seemingly contradictory title for this review really sums up my feelings. I truly loved this book the first time I read it (the year it was short-listed for the Booker Prize). I even recall being vaguely upset that it did not win, because I thought it more engaging that Peter Carey's, "True Story of the Kelly Gang". However, about a decade on, I simply was not as taken with the whole piece. I felt the female characters were a bit predictable (in the sense that this is how McEwan draws his female characters) and the male characters (especially Robbie) are surprisingly wan. Of course one might expect Robbie (in Part 3) to be jaded, but the vitality that so marked him out in Part 1 (sufficient for him to wite the forbidden word) is completely absent by Part 3. It makes you wonder how Cecelia can bear to be with this shell of the man she loved. Maybe that's the point; Briony's deceit having forced everyone to live in the past. If it is, then I simply didn't enjoy the second visit to this well crafted novel.
There is no doubt about the craft of the book. In fact, re-listening to it re-minded me why I hadn't enjoyed Sweet Tooth when I listened to it earlier this year. The female characters are very alike (even to the point that Briony's buxom, but fun friend in nursing training is a very close match to the MI5 friendship i Sweet Tooth) and the "twist" is very similar. Maybe that's why I picked the "twist" in Sweet Tooth, but what ever it was the comparison between the two titles is unflattering. This is one of those rare books that I enjoyed on a first read that I should have lived with the memory of and left alone.
A thought Carole Boyd's performance was good and, again, very like Juliet Stevenson's in Sweet Tooth. I suspect if you listen to this first you will enjoy it (as I did the first time). If you read it after Sweet Tooth, you will prefer the former. For me, they are too similar. The rating for Story reflects my first read. The overall rating reflects this second listening.
I raced through this title, just as I did the first time I read it. It is such a wonderful piece of prose, come poetry that it keeps you returning to its words.
I was first introduced to Murakami (Norwegian Wood) by a good friend and I loved his work from the first page. Because it is like poetry, you can read it (or in this case, listen to it) over, and over again. For me it captures the very essence of a paradigm Japanese skill of beautiful understatement, whether that is in art, in haiku, in arrangement of flower or furniture or in the written word. I can almost hear the soft trickle of water in the background and feel the calming presence of space. Perhaps the shortage of space has helped grow the appreciation for the smallest serving of it. Murakami is like an oriental (in the literal sense) Rushdie.
The plot is complex, but not complex.
Dealing with the latter state first, in substance this is a tale about a boy on the verge of manhood, his adolescent brush with authority (his father), his search for a missing presence in his life (his estranged mother and sister), and to find the hidden beauty that is before him, but which he is struggling so be interpreted.
In the former state, we have a Cat Whisperer, the refugee of a bizarre incident toward the end of WW2, looking for a cat, the wonderful imaginary world of the boy's alter ego, Crow, and the unveiling of a gruesome murder . All of these pieces fit together, sometimes in the most unconventional way, but never in a way that makes you want to throw out the fantastical because you want the facts to prevail.
I love this book. I could listen to it again, immediately; like a loop on an old reel to reel recording. In large part this is the work of the author, but it could so easily have been lost or abused in the telling. Fortunately, it was reproduced, it seems, with love and care. Oliver Le Sueur is terrifically paced as the boy and his alter ego, with a few bit parts in between. Sean Barrett is at his best as the Whisperer. There are some cameo voices for some particular one chapter characters which are appropriate too, and add to the overall performance. I would have given it a perfect score all round but for the transfer. In parts it is a bit soft, so I'd turn up the sound to max' and leave it there. Even then, in parts this quiet added to the atmosphere.
Overall, if you like lyrical, imaginative literature, I think you'll love this.
This is one of those titles I've been wanting to listen too and, before, to read, but couldn't bring myself to making the commitment. Thirty-eight and an half hours of audio! That's daunting. However, I'm well ahead of my contract for this year, so what the hell. I am pleased (perhaps relieved is a better choice of word) I made the leap.
The book, 13th as you know in this epic series, is a good bringing together of many of the threads from previous episodes. The ta'veren fulfil their threshold quests and are paused to re-unite for the Last Battle. Mat remains the most amusing character, while Perrin grows more serious. Rand calms down and Elayne grows outward. Egwene has re-united the White Tower and there is at least one less Chosen within the weave. Min continues to intrigue as any good oracle ought to. Only Aviendha's questions have not been answered, so setting the scene for the beginning of the Last turn of the Wheel.
I found the plot in this title more adult. A couple of the middle titles were a bit on the young side and meandered unnecessarily. As one would expect as the story gets to the pointy end, the telling is a bit more direct. Also, as the main characters come to grip with their responsibilities, the issues are dramatically more engaging and more adult. There is still some embarrassing prose trying to reflect the star-crossed lovers themes that punctuate the Egwene and Elayne plot lines, but they are mercifully a very small part of this long book.
The performances are tight and well maintained. I think I preferred Michael Kramer, but this was not a big thing overall. My 12 year old daughter kept laughing at Kate Reading's male voices and I think this jaundiced my impression, unfairly. I think they collectively portrayed the narrative well, although I think I would have preferred them to take particular characters consistently. That of course is a huge ask at the best of times and, I suspect, impossible for a series of this duration.
Listening to the title has given me the confidence to listen to the last stanza instead of reading it. The title is a must for any one who has read the first dozen and a suitable reward for the perseverance.
I have long meant to read this book but I had resisted in case it didn't live up to its legendary status. In the end, I think it was the fact that Matt Dillon was to narrate it that persuaded me to take the plunge. I now feel vindicated on two scores; first, the legend is alive and well and, secondly, Dillon was a terrific narrator.
There's no point spending too much time on the plot. The listener needs to experience it with Sal Paradise, with the words blowing through your mind like wind through your hair and the drug of sex and excitement invading your imagination like the drugs that invade Sal's system. It is the seminal "Road" tale populated with huge characters like Dean Moriarty and Marylou, his "little sharp chick", the Frenchman poet, Remi, Carlo Marx (poet and adulterer), Montana Slim and "Big Ed" Dunkel. Sal, it seems, is a metaphor for Kerouac and you can trace the rest of the characters through the many reminiscences written about this work by the characters themselves. But, in my opinion, the story is not the main thing. It's the living of it that makes it eternal. I found it a bit like looking back on a fond, but now past, phase of my life (not that my was ever as eventful as Sal's). It has that intimate feel of your own personal memories. I wrote a lot of notes about it to write this review, but most of them are just not important enough to mention, although they seemed important at the time. Again, these are like the events in the book.
Returning to Dillon, really there is not much to say. He captures the book's racy sexuality, the atmosphere of a jazz age and and a youth that was looking for something that is too elusive to capture. There were times when he brought to mind Springsteen ("Lost in the Flood", "Backstreets") and at other times Van Morrison ("Coney Island"). Musical and noisy.
I enjoyed this journey.
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