This is a slightly abridged version of Sylvia's 1990 bestseller, and yes it's fascinating, and to me it's also very funny. I mean, who would open a psychic studio next to a smelly diaper-cleaning service? Sylvia Browne recorded this herself a dozen years after writing it, and often stops her reading along the way to give quick updates, side comments or a special emphasis. She's clearly reading, but is reading quickly. There's a lot packed into these three hours. I usually like long audio books but with this one I never felt shortchanged. At the end I was sorry to leave her company.
The original was written with Toni May in the ThirdPerson, but here Sylvia does her best to rephrase it in the FirstPerson. I should note that I've avoided Sylvia Browne despite five years of mining the Hay House catalogue, but I only did myself a disservice. Sylvia is an uncut diamond. She is clear eyed and matter-of-fact about her psychic powers, the bad and good life decisions she's made along the way, and her lifelong ability to be helpful and useful.
By the way, the paper version is reprinted as the first third of 2009's "Accepting the Psychic Torch."
The middle chapters explored his improvisational joking on Burnett show, and last chapter detailed pranks he pulled on Harvey Korman and others, and they were often inventive and sometimes spontaneous and sometimes elaborate, with weeks' of planning. The details are just funny to hear played out and imagine, like having an affaire with a plastic sheep, or a recrafting a den and a suit with matching fabric so that he could become align and become invisible. Also nice to hear his comfort and love for his many co-stars, reflected in the time given over to talking about them (Borgnine, Knotts, Flynn, Burnett, Korman and others.) Sadly he doesn't reveal a steamy affair with Gina Lollabrigida.
Apparently the narration is not by Tim Conway, but by the experienced Dick Hill. That was a creepy moment of understanding, with just 15 seconds left to the book. Maybe that was another Conway prank, on us. T'aint funny.
Well it kinda sorta sounds like an older Tim Conway, and it slips into various accents quite easily.
Good laughs eventually.
I hung in there for the early part but finally skipped ahead to the McHale's Navy and Burnett years, and then had a fine time. Hey, it's not high literature, eh?
In the audio version I pay attention to the poetry and songs, and so have found a new delight. I've enjoyed the humor more, and seen the tenderness with better clarity. Other things I might have picked up from the audio version I also learnt in the movies, such as how to differently pronounce Sauron and Saruman. And as in most audio books, sentences here or there that escaped my eye do not escape my ear.
Disney's Sleeping Beauty: lots of swords and thorny undergrowth. I liked that Harry Potter's Neville Longbottom, herbologist-in-training, honors the famousest tobacco.
I've only heard his narration on Tolkein's books. Sometimes Inglis' voice cracks. Sometimes he just sounds too old, yet often he brings a different spin than I had in my head or which we've seen in the movies, made a decade after Inglis's reading. I wonder if some of the actors understood their character better by listening to Inglis. But overall -- and I've listened to this audio on cassette every 3 years or so for the last 15 years -- in its entirety he is about perfect.
The entire cycle is intended to be lived with for several weeks, to dive in and occasionally come up for air.
It's not an easy thing to take a chainsaw to Copperfield, but the one wielded here, to abridge 30 hours into 5, is fairly graceful. The main threads are all here. Main characters are all here too, and many minor ones: Mister Dick and the donkeys are here. Gip the dog, Little Em'ly, and David's invisible sister Betsey Trotwood Copperfield are here. Barkis is here, and willin'. What's lost is the depth of self reflection, the time it takes to develop the agony at parts, such as David's runaway to his Aunt. But it's surprising how much pain and loss does indeed remain, such as Chapter 55's awful Tempest. And it's gratifying how much little unnecessary detail remains, because the gingerbread detail is what helps captivate us to the novel. But the abridgement means the story skips along, and transitions can seem abrupt. The narration by Nathaniel Parker is servicable, but frankly doesn't have deep joyful friendliness I would have liked in some characters, such as Aunt Betsey (who sounds like Monty Python doing Her Majesty) or Wilkins Macawber (who sounds like Cary Grant.) I do have the Simon Vance and Frederick Davidson narrations of the complete Copperfield and love them, especially the excellent Davidson voices. But for a good precipitate, this abridgement can fit the bill.
I have 3 versions (wonderful Simon Vance, Nathaniel Parker and this one) but this is the best, full of energy, delight, humor, irony and surprise. All of the male characters and most of the women's voices were wonderfully characterized. Murdstone has depth, his sister is our nightmare, fisherman Dan'l Peggoty is a mighty sailing man and his nephew Ham brave and true at the last; Clara Peggoty's a blubbering love, Aunt Betsey is harsh and loveable and David himself is voiced as an excited innocent. The only voice I didn't always like is that of the narrator, Frederick Davidson, who seems to speak with a nasal looking-down-at-us quality. But he too is an invention, just another character of the astute David Case, who's recorded over 800 audio books.
The whole book, Side Effects, has 17 stories. It was published in 1980, and so is, in fact, his early stuff. But this recording is new: if you listen carefully you can hear that Woody Allen's voice has aged some. It is fun to hear him read his own comedy.
I sampled "My Apology". It's a funny story, a knock-off on Plato's famous text of Socrates' final days in prison. It's a short story written in the 70s, and has nothing to do with his wife or life. If they'd got Allen to do read "Side Effects" 10 years ago I think his delivery would be more flexible and his comedic style stronger but still I enjoy hearing Woody doing Woody.
The history is written dramatically; the story is read compellingly by Richard Poe. It unfolds like a thriller, and reminds of a time when two journalists were heroic.
Other reviewers note the dozens of characters in the story. Some say it's hard to know which characters are minor and which are significant. Readers at the time it was written would have known many of the names from the daily news, in a way that we do not. For instance, although Woodward is baffled by the name 'Charles Colson,' book readers at the time would have known the end of the story: that Colson was high in the White House and would go to jail for the coverup. Readers then knew that John Mitchell, E. Howard Hunt and John Dean were household names.
Yet, the story is gripping even without it, and clear enough, when the listener flows with the story. I really enjoyed it.
An odd story. You have to meet the book half way. Pynchon said his characters would stop what they are doing to sing a stupid song, and they do. In the end the book is fun, but for me it's Dick Hill's narration that makes it accessible. ALERT: the book is not available in the Enhanced format (at least as I write in Feb '10).
Good absorbing story, which unfolds methodically to a strong ending. I enjoyed Colleen McCullough's novels of ancient Rome so much I thought it was time to dive into this classic of hers. Yes, the narration here does have the weaknesses others have mentioned but it was not too much of a problem for me and did not stop me from becoming engaged with the story anyway. McCullough's writing is not sentimental or emotional, although the story is. I liked it that way. It was satisfying and I recommend it.
The rewards with Gabaldon are the meandering introspective globe-trotting journey to get there. Davina Porter - the narrator for all of the unabridged Outlanders - was again superb with the adult voices (and a little too cute for the kids.) We men like blod and guts and sweat and love. Please, may I have some more.
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