South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010
Until relatively recently (the last decade, say) I thought that the only entertaining science was Science Fiction. Dawkins proved to me (yet again) that the best of fact is so much better than most of fiction. Of course, like any argument, one doesn't have to accept the conclusion to recognise a good argument. That I do accept the conclusion probably helped me enjoy this work, but I could have been the Bishop of Birmingham and, I hope, still have recognised a well structured, logical and persuasively argued thesis when heard this one.
The argument is presented so that you don't need to understand all the science to enjoy the cut and thrust. And cut and thrust there most surely is! Dawkins is not afraid to tilt at apparently well respected opinion and, generally, he doesn't mince his words. I found this occasionally annoying when it seemed a bit mean spirited and an immediate reposte was not available from the butt of the comment, but I was able to get online and see if there was a response from, say, Gould to the criticism and this helped weather the frustration. That said, these flourishes were few and far between. Most of the criticism was obviously carefully considered and well reasoned. I particularly liked the examples. The bat was my favourite, and I did enjoy the bat with angel wings paradoy (even though I had to play it a few times to get the nuance - as I would have had to if I'd read it and had to re-read). Even though the paradoy wasa bit of a flourish, it wasn't personal (or it didn't appear to be so to me).
As for the performance, I was abit apprehensive at first about Lalla Ward's role. Of course she is Dawkins wife, but I just wasn't sure a second voice was necessary, except to highlight quotations and examples. As the performance proceeded, I changed my mind. The change of reader added interest and, after all, Ms Ward has a wonderful voice. As for Dawkins, his infectious enthusiasm is literally bubbling up in his voice. I will never forget the fantastic end to Chapter 10 as a consequence. I am looking forward to listening to him read his Selfesh Gene (one of the first books that opened my mind to Science Faction).
Given the journey it was hugely important that the last stanza lived up to its billing. In my view it does. There will be those who are disappointed with the very end, but generally the threads are well woven together and the ultimate duel is a great revelation. I won't give it away, but it suffices to say that it is not Almoth Plain again, or Dumai Wells, but something deeper and more considered.
Sanderson is to be congratulated for rescuing this epic work that seemed on the verge of expiring with its erstwhile creator, prematurely. His rejuvenation is the hall mark of the series after its fantastic beginning with the WOT.
The Narration is steady and consistent. I still felt the doubling up of character voices was unnecessary (for example, Talmades might be read by Kramer or Reading, meaning that the character sounded different depending on who was narrating), but overall it enabled a long piece of narration to remain interesting.
Fans will be happy, I think.
I regret to say that my favourite Scandinavian Knave detective really pushed the boundaries in this outing. Whereas to now Nesbo has been building to the level of complexity that others (the UK reviewers, notably) compare to Larsson, I could not help but feel that in this episode he crossed the edge of reality. There was too much evil, too much counter-point and too much that was just not "real".
What I've always liked about Harry is how real he is; flawed in his many ways, but deep down, honest. This time he was too resilient, he survived too much. I barely recognise the tall, thin blond cropped anti-hero of the past novels. I can only say that I hope Nesbo returns Harry "home", where he belongs.
For all that, the story is suspenseful and the action exhausting. That's another thing; I felt like I was reading a movie plot, not a Harry Hole. This won't keep me from reading on, but I am trusting that Harry has not plateaued.
Sean Barrett is, as usual, excellent, but I got the impression that even he was having trouble believing what Harry was up to.
I was gifted this title for my birthday a few months back and was surprised to realise that I had missed reading it during my school years. First, the Raj, where I was born, has a special fascination. Secondly, I thought I'd read most of the Booker winners. Thirdly, I've read Scott's other works, so how did I miss this. Then I started reading it and got an inkling. I think I might have started this twenty years ago and just not got into it. Fortunately, times have changed and I truly enjoyed this very pleasant listen.
The Raj parts were a bit dated, a bit like Raj India now. It reminded me of my grandparents. I smelled the old decay in the early evening and the transition of a time that refuses (even to this day) to finally lie down and die.
The story really is a bit of nothing, but it is told well, with a suppressed love and a slight longing. I enjoyed the odd pidgin word and the figurative shake of a be-turbaned head.
It took me a bit to get used to Paul Shelley, but ultimately I warmed to him and he to his subject.
I will be passing this little gem onto those who love and have loved old India.
This is plainly one of the best titles I have ever listened to and, I suspect, it would be a pleasure to read. The language hangs in that shadowy place between prose and poetry. In many ways, it reminds me of Rushdie's "Enchantress of Florence", without the complexity of plot.
A love story told over a generation and an half, borne of experience and tested in adversity. It also reminds me of Ben Okri's "Famished Road" and and there is no small resemblance to Don Quixote, too.
I loved the plot. It is just so simple, yet it carries the characters along their paths, like the river does at the end. It begins with a death by gold cyanide and there is a hint of fatality in what then follows. I enjoyed the personification of the disease, Cholera, the structure that it brings to the story and the melancholy it drips. All the while the story follows the lovesick "fool", Florentino Ariza. As he relentlessly pursues his love of Fermina Daza, amidst long and strange dallying with the recently widowed population along the Caribbean coast, one comes to like, dislike, pity and then envy the man. Similarly, one comes to smile, frown, swear at and then congratulate Fermina. The emotions are truly cyclical.
Finally, it would be remiss not to comment on the lovely reading by Duran. At times he reminded me of the actor, Peter Coyote, rasping his way in a surprisingly melodious way across the beautiful language.
In my opinion, this is one for true listening pleasure.
This is one of the titles I picked-up on recommendation. I can't say that I enjoyed it, although at times it made me smile; for example the Title.
It's written under topics that purport to be inclusive, but I got the impression that it was a selection of prior advice columns collected together under a general tag. For example, the same sentence or series of sentences appears on two or three occasions and really do not warrant repetition.
Also, the text sounds a lot like extracts out of "Sex in the City", without the fourway tension or bedroom antics. Much of this text I disagree with (particularly the misleading of others to avoid a confrontation and anonymous notes). I think I am too direct to apply much of The Goddess' advice.
Still, that is not a good reason to pan a book. The narrative is entertaining and sharp (like the bits that bite - kids on planes, for example).
It's not for me, but if you like "She's Not that Into You", then you'd probably like this too. I liked "Sex In the City" (eventually), but I guess I'm not ready to take Amy's advice (which, I suspect, she's cool with).
Now I think I know Harry a whole lot better than when I picked up "The Bat". He and I have been through a lot together; he, and I and Jack and Jim. Long hours searching and not finding; looking in the right places for the wrong things. We have come such a long way, he and I. Well, that's what it feels like.
Jo Nesbo has come a long way, too. I wrote in an earlier review ("The Redeemer") that the plots are getting more complex and the stories richer. But, even then (only two books before this one) for all of Nesbo's Hole anti-hero charm, it was still a far cry from the sticker that appears on all his books, "The Next Stieg Larsson". I understand (from web reviews) that Nesbo hates that epithet, and who would blame him. Still, it was meant as a compliment, I'm sure, and this book takes a huge stride in the Larsson direction. It is blacker, more daring and very suspenseful. I can well see why it is being mooted as a motion picture. For my part, I highly recommended it in this genre, .
Barrett is, as I have said, now Harry Hole; tall, thin, gaunt, with the alcoholic's pallor. All of that is in his voice. Worth a good listen.
This time I read the blurb correctly; it is indeed Rusdie interviewed by Hitchens. It's not as good as the one I picked up by mistake (which is all interview and wherein they rehearse some of the stories that they abbreviate in this version), but it is still very entertaining.
Rushdie reads extracts from his then new release, Shalimar the Clown ( a great book). The reading is not great, but the insight, the wit and the freakish brilliance of Rushdie is on show in every word of every line. The little tribute to great Indian writers (by Hitchens) is also very interesting.
Another hour well spent. When someone asks you that old chestnut, if you could have dinner with anyone at all, you'll know to say Salmund (alas, Hitchens has left us).
First, my thanks to Ted (whom I follow) for alerting me to this series. It is truly a great find. It has set me on a course to explore the lesser known Shakespeare's.
Secondly, a quick note about what you might want to have handy if you want to do the same thing. Unlike a novel, it is not easy to follow the many voices unless you have the script handy. I struggled with this until I got the Letterpress Folio edition out. So, bonus, I get to hear a play I don't know so well and the sublime pleasure of following it in one of the best reproductions in print. If you don't have a Letterpress handy, any old version will suffice so you can follow who says what.
Thirdly, I found the production values to be a bit dated, but that was more than made up for by the full cast reproduction.
Finally, I thought the play itself a very interesting and topical one. It has so many ramifications for the present day lust for power, the spiral of power and corruption and the modern parable that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Acton). One can see how easily it might be adapted to more contemporary times. I have got the Raphe Fiennes movie on order now so that I test the theory.
I am looking forward to the next wet, winter day encounter with a lesser known William
It has taken me a while to get around to listening to this Member's Gift, but I am glad that I have now taken the time. It tells an all to familiar story of colonial misconduct perpetrated upon an essentially honourable, less modern civilisation.
In this autobiographical account, the Chief of the Sauk nation, Black Hawk, tells his life story concentrating on the years of the American Revolution and the expansion of settlers across indigenous lands. He states this is to correct the record. The tale is very familiar, although at least the Indians were required to be conquered and, in theory, they were protected by law; something that did not occur in my home until 20 years ago, this month (June, 2014). Even allowing for the fact that the story is likely to seek to paint the Sauk in the best light, and thereby paints the settlers in the worst light, the tale is too familiar to be fanciful, in my opinion. It made me angry and sad to listen to it and to feel its resonance.
The text is read by Brett Barry as written (or I should say, dictated) by Black Hawk. The telling is appropriate and authentic, without being inflammatory.
A thoroughly good listen to a thoroughly bad experience.
I have read a lot Dawkins and Hitchens and the difference between the two, telling the same tale about gods, is usually quite stark. On this occasion however Dawkins delves down into the arena, get his hands dirty with invective and (particularly at the start and the finish) resorts to rhetoric. Of course, in his inimatable way, he acknowledges he's doing just this and he even has the good grace to sound apologetic about that. However, the method is not as persuasive as I have come to expect from him, although the key (middle) Chapters return to the well learned practices of his past writing, full of sound reasoning, inferences and evidence.
I have some sympathy for the lack of evidence, but then I am already a "convert", to borrow from the iconology of the religiously minded. It is hard to prove a negative, as every lawyer will confirm. Still, I would have been happier with the central Chapters without the soapbox start and finish. That said, the starkness of the language and the boldness of the frontal attack have the consequence of making even a convert think about the extent of their conversion; has it gone far enough? To paraphrase a former PM, this is a book for the true disbelievers. It will probably not persuade anyone else, which is a pity.
Again, the combination of Lalla Ward and Dawkins works well for the listener.
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