South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010
This truly is a revelation. I had read the book many years before, of course, but I had never really appreciated the way the story was told in correspondence. I suspect that lack of appreciation is a testament to Bram Stocker's skills as a storyteller and to my lack of acuity. Whatever the reason, hearing the tale told through the words of the correspondents makes it so much more intimate and exciting. It puts the Twilight Saga and True Blood in their place as pieces for their time and generations, but confirms the traditional view of Dracula, van Helsing and Transalvania as everlasting pieces of literature for all time and a mature audience. In the parlance of the present cinema, it's M15+ verging on R, but not for the sensuality (although that is there) or the viloence (of which there is an abundance), but for the themes.
As for the production, it is first class. For me it was Simon Vance and Katy Kellgren who shone; more so even than the named principals. Alan Cumming was as good as ever. Tim Curry really didn't have enough of a part to make a real impression, more's the pity. Van Helsing is really seen through others' eyes. So the Harkers stole the show. In retrospect, that's not suprising, but I had (wrongly) expected more from the principals. I also missed a voice for Dracula (because he is not a correspondent, of course). I thought Vance captured his intonation beautifully when he recounted the conversations between the Count and Harker, but with Borsi Karlof, Frank Langella and others in mind, it would have been nice to hear him speak. Alas, that was a legitimate sacrifice for the lierarary device that Stoker adopted and which this production brings to life.
I love this book. It has been described by no less a judge than Salman Rushdie as one of the best books in any language in the last 50 years! High praise indeed, and thoroughly deserved. It is a tour de force of imagination, perseverance and detail. The carefully drawn portraits, like looking at charcoal sketches brushed together when the subject wasn't watching, are exquisite in their details and perceptions. I read it with vigor over a few days.
But that was some time ago.
Having listened to "Love in the Time of Cholera" recently, I really had to have another go at this classic. I did this despite the reviews that warned of Lee's narration and the difficulty people had following the plot line. I was wrong; I should have paid attention to reviewer's I trust. That said, I was underwhelmed by this production for different reasons than those advanced in earlier reviews.
My main problem with this production was with the narration. I have scored it accordingly. However, it was not the speed (or not just the speed) and it was not the complexity of the repetition of names (as generation after generation of Aurelianos and Arcardios and Ursulas passed accross the virtual pages of the story). Really, if I am truthful, it was the accent. Lee has a hint of the Scott in his voice that makes him sound like Sean Connery from time to time. With the affected Spanish overtone this reminded me (by unfavourable comparison) with Connery's Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in the "Highlander" franchise. It just did not fit. Add to that the speed and the Spanish/Latin names and it just didn't work for me. I really had to push myself to listen to the wonderful ending to this wonderful book.Such a pity.
In retrospect, I suggest that you get the hard copy and read it. I hope you love it as much as I do. Alternatively, wait for another version to be released.
I have been awaiting some time a copy of Bertolucci's movie to arrive. In the meantime I listened over and over to the Police's "Tea in the Sahara". When the DVD arrived it was from the wrong zone. So it's taken some time to complete the circle of information that I wanted before I commenced on the review. In a way, the waiting was a fair reflection of the tedium that the book so casually describes. "Casual" is an appropriate word too, because Port and Kit (the protagonists) remind me of Fitzgerald's "careless people"; their lives are so self-absorbed, it is really quite hard to like either of them. Tunner (the third leg of the stool) is not any more redeeming.
It took me a while to get into the novel. It wasn't until I started approaching it like a long, un-parsed poem, just listening to the words without really trying to make them mean too much that I started to get a feel for the solitude and lack of solicitude that Bowels brings to the whole landscape. On reflection now, I think it is an inspired piece of writing, but for a third of the novel, I struggled with it and with the narration.
When I got it, then I appreciated the narration that Jennifer Connelly brought to the words. The flat, toneless delivery contrasted so starkly with the eloquence of the language; "the meaningless hegemony of the voluntary" and the title driving, "Reach out. Pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky and take repose". Just writing the words brings forth the images that are so beautifully captured by Bertolucci's lens and Ryuichi Sakamoto's haunting theme.
I must say I loved this book more after I finished it than when reading it. That suggests to me that it is not for everyone. However, if you are the one for it, get yourself a copy of the film after you have finished listening. A young Malkovich and a very young Debra Winger. You won't regret the wait.
I have struggled with the last few McEwan titles although I have been a long-time fan (ever since I first read Amsterdam). This is a welcome return to Amsterdam form. I do not know if my familiarity with the legal themes helped with this perception, but it certainly did not hurt. In fact, there were times when I thought a person who was not intimately familiar with the English common law system and the precedent system particular to the United Kingdom (which is different in nuance from the US, for example), might have missed some of the subtleties of the narrative. It made me wonder if I have missed like subtleties in recent books (say about the publishing houses referred to in Sweet Tooth) and thereby misjudged them. In the end, I ignored the nagging doubt and settled back to enjoy the book. I don't think a legal background is a prerequisite
I thought Lindsay Duncan's read a very good one; not unlike Carole Boy's reading of Atonement and Juliet Stevenson's reading of Sweet Tooth. I suspect that whomever chooses Mr McEwan's narrators has a preference. For my part, I would not argue with that. The one constant in the three titles that I've mentioned is the high standard of the narration. This time (and with Atonement, notwithstanding my second time doubts), the content and the performance were a par.
It has been a long time indeed since I read this title. I recall it being rather dull and somewhat disturbing for a reason I couldn't quite put my finger upon. Now, with the benefit of time, I understand that I was not old enough to appreciate the chilling undertone to a book, where there is so little violence (although a fair number of people die), but an eerie threat permeates the text. That threat is like a fog that I associates with East Berlin, the Wall and all thinks KGB, NKVD and the other counterpoints to MI6 and the CIA. Listening to the narrative now I appreciate the grit, the ugliness and the end justifies everything mendacity that drove people like Smiley, Leamas, Mundt, Control, Fiedler and others. It is the reverse of the superficial sense of fairness of Liz Gold.
This is still a cracker story with a terrific ending. It's not the same as the film (with Richard Burton terrific in the Leamas role) although the core scenes are pretty close. Le Carre had a hand in the screenplay, so I guess that's not so surprising.
As for Michael Jayston's reading, I vacillated between loving it and being frustrated when he dropped the accents. In particular, his Leamas starts with a distinct Burton-like quality, but by the final chapter it had gone completely. I am not sure if that was an intended conceit, but if it was, it did not work for me. In the end I gave it a 3, but overall it is probably about a 3.5.
This was a very enjoyable re-discovery. I am sure it will prompt me to re-read the Karla Trilogy.
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.
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