The best thing about a good mystery is how patterns start to emerge from the stew of details; the best thing about a social history is how a seemingly small and insignificant event can be shown as crucial to larger historical processes. This book delivers both.
And what an amazing reader!
Characters & setting more compelling than On Beauty (it's hard to sustain that much dislike & contempt for all main characters), but plot much, much thinner.
It was really evocative, and I enjoyed the different characters' way of seeing the same place and the very different voices, but it felt like the author lost her way at the end and everyone just sort of wandered off stage left.
Really? All these years later, she seems to have no sense of how shallow they all were. It's one thing to write about an earlier self with kindness; it's another to repeat the self-involved "brilliances" as if they really were brilliant. Someone seems to have been living in a sycophantic cocoon a little too long. And jesus, someone needed an editor to tell her that it's just as nice to write "I walked quietly" as "I strolled in an ambiance of stillness" or some such purply dreck. It's just more of the same Boomer self-indulgence and utter inability to see the larger world that has sunk most of these rock-n-roll memoirs.
At first I wanted to kind of hug her and tell her, Really, even still, you're way more into him than he ever was into you. Like it was a little sad for her to be controlling this story, given his death, and trying to frame it in favorable terms for her. But eventually it was more pathetic than sad. And it just wouldn't end!
Famous people's books really suffer from their ability to refuse to bow to editors.
The way surprising details emerge effortlessly.
The reader, who I love as an actor, seemed to rebel against the text. The main character always seems to speak in a breathless, smarmy/whiny tone, even when the description of his voice is completely otherwise. Really, really annoying.
What a dreadfully dull read. All the characters essentially had the same (Jane Austen era) narration style, and it made absolutely no sense at all. No "twist" in the second half (as some other reviewer suggested, and I blame that reviewer for time wasted in getting through this tripe), and no resolution. I can only assume that Ullman grew as bored with her story as the rest of us did.
What "genre" is this? Is the genre "Too lazy to actually research how people lived in the 1970s, so basically set in the 1990s plus a few historical plot devices that require the story to be set in the 1970s"? Maybe some of these things (the N-Judah as night owl bus, the answering machine, mail taking four days within San Francisco) weren't 100% impossible, but so many anachronistic elements were highly implausible.
And what a terrible reader. Or terrible audio-editor. Really, did no one think to tell him that "analysand" is pronounced "anALlisand" rather than the ridiculous and incorrect "anaLIEsand"? Or the more forgivable but no less wrong pronounciation of the German school, "Gymnasium," as "jimNAHsium" (like American exercise) rather than "gimNASium"?
Boring, boring, and unending. I will never rely on an Audible review again, particularly if the first half hour is as bad as this one.
I want my money back.
If only Shriver had read Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child and realized that any other version of this same story had to be kept to a short story (in The New Yorker?).
It might be a good movie (which is, essentially, the length of a New Yorker short story), but this was just ENDLESS. By the end, I was just disappointed Kevin didn't also kill his mom and spare us her narrative.
This was diverting as I washed the dishes. That's about it.
While I liked the idea of aging and crankiness being incorporated into the detective story format, the repeated deus ex machina action tested even my willingness to be disbelieving of chance meetings or gut decisions in detective fiction. I was ready for this to be the last book in the series by the time it ended, and kind of wish I hadn't wasted my time.
Robin Sachs does brilliant male characters and generally conveys the tone of the narrative's moment. But--like far to many men narrators--he can't seem to differentiate between women! With one exception, all women characters seem to have been drugged into near-catatonic flutteriness. I simply don't buy Linda's passivity of speech (particularly when descriptions of her tone and actions are totally opposite). Just annoying, and I would avoid any future audiobooks that have women characters read by Sachs.
This is begging for a spoiler, but I'll refrain.
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