When I was asking my friends on what I should read next, they suggested "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace. When the book was first published in 1996, the audio version wasn't available and to be honest, I was having too much fun in the 90's to be reading. I remembered seeing this author in interviews and wanting to dive in this book. Fast forward to the present day, I finally got through this book and this is the best title that I've read thus far in the year. David Foster Wallace's humor is my taste of comedy, but his story about addiction and depression is profound.
I've read many books on addictions and how they overcame their problem by taking the steps, and even though the story of "Infinite Jest" is fictional, the characters seems to be more realistic with their addictions and depressions. If you are reading this review and thinking that this book is just all about addictions, I'm not doing justice to the novel.
Addiction is just one part of the story in "Infinite Jest." Somehow, the author incorporated most of the seven deadly sins through his characters. The sins aren't obvious while you are reading, but they should come to you once you get through the entire story. I'm not going to give examples from the book because I don't like to give spoilers, but DFW is a remarkable author.
It took me less than two weeks to finish the book. 56 hours went by quickly. Many of my friends said that it took them a long time to get to the last page. You really should form a group together to discuss each "Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment." It will help you decipher each chapter and it is the best way to understand DFW's writing.
While I was reading, my friends and I would have discussions of each main parts of the story and it helped me comprehend the entire concept better.
One of my friends mentioned that David Foster Wallace's storytelling is not linear with the traditional storyline. I happen to agree with her and compare his writing to David Mitchel in "Cloud Atlas." Both of their styles are similar to each other and want to draw me more to their other titles.
I don't remember characters' names in any books that I read. My mind doesn't pay attention to names. I see characters as figures on a spreadsheet, like A, B, C, and so on. In "Infinite Jest," the characters' actions are so bizarre that you can't forget where you left off.
There is one major flaw in the audio version. The endnotes aren't included in the audio and I can see why the publisher omitted them out. They are included in a pdf, but trying to listen to the story and scrolling through 98 pages of notes is hard to do.
Luckily, the listener can purchase the endnotes separately in audio. I will be listening to them after I finish this review because they are the most important part of the story.
This year is almost over and I've read my fair amount of titles, but "Infinite Jest" is what I was looking for to break up the same repertoire of subjects in my library.
I would recommend "Infinite Jest" to anyone where your thought bubbles are in a disarray like mine.
After finishing "Solomon’s Gold", I was excited to get through the "Currency." I was suspecting that the story would pick up in the second book in the last volume. For anyone that has been invested in the Baroque Cycle thus far, there is an instinct trait of Neal Stephenson's writing. Depending on the tempo of the setting, his style can be slow and fast. Unlike other authors, Stephenson let the reader decide on what pace to read these books.
For example, the Baroque Cycle could be considered as a soap opera with Eliza, or a history lesson of the 18th century with Newton and the Towers of London, or an action pack adventure with Jack the Coiner. However you interpret the Baroque's society, you are never disappointed on the outcome. His writing style is not like a bull, charging the gate. His style is more of a turtle morphing into a rabbit.
As for "Currency", I thought that the series reached its climax by going into more in depth in the gold plates and the Bank of England. I've been looking forward to this ever since the definition of Quicksilver. Although I really enjoyed the constant cat and mouse game between Newton and Jack, I was ecstatic to learn more about the financial system and the building of the towers.
There are so many elements in this series, but if you decide to focus on one of it and see it through the end, all of the notes will come together in the Baroque Cycle.
I've been listening to Simon Prebble for nearly 87 hours and his performance is Baroque Cycle has been fantastic. I'm really glad that Audible got a top notch narrator and maybe that's why I'm enjoying this series so much. In the sixth installment, "Solomon’s Gold" is something that I was looking forward to because it explained more about the monetary system, but the story fell short for my liking.
Remind you, I just finished and wrote the review for "The Confusion" just a few days ago and maybe my mind is still on pirates, but for some reason, I thought that "Solomon’s Gold" is the weaker of the set so far. The tale was very erratic on most parts of the book. I need to remember that this is the first part of the last volume and there are two more books to go. My expectation was very high after coming off from "Bonanza" and "The Juncto."
I don't think that I'm loosing steam in the Baroque Cycle and cannot wait to complete the entire series. Maybe Simon Prebble is starting to annoy me. His Scottish accent for one of the characters is not so great. Probably downright awful from his overall performance.
"Solomon’s Gold" should had been the strongest chapters, but it fell short. I just wanted to know more about Quicksilver and how banking got started, but the story was all over the map and didn't hit the target, unlike the other books.
The book is still very good with a few exclusions.
The second volume in the Baroque Cycle consist of two books into 34 hours and 30 minutes, or 848 pages. "The Confusion" combines "Bonanza" (book 4) and "The Juncto" (book 5) together into one large sum. The two books intertwine together, telling three main parts all at the same time, hence "The Confusion." The subject of pirates in the sea, capture of the slaves and the ongoing value of the currency, makes this to be an awesome book to tackle.
The two books are companions to each other by flashing back and forth into each plot. You can't read these books separately and will be force to read the complete volume into one set. The best comparison of the second volume is "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell. Neal Stephenson has the same style of storytelling in "The Confusion."
Very much like a Swiss Army knife, you get all of the necessary tools to continue on with the series.
I've been on other sites that also reviews books and "The Confusion" has stirred up mix results. Some people love it and other can't seem to get through the first chapter. To all of the naysayers that are cursing Stephenson of writing out of his genre, here are my thoughts. I agree with some of you that it's somewhat weird to see a science fiction author writing about the 18th century. When I first started this series, I wasn't expecting an history lesson, but as a fan boy of Stephenson, I appreciate his efforts at writing out of his comfort zone.
There are many popular authors who writes the same thing over and over by having sequel after sequel like book #26. Neal Stephenson is still an indie author because in all of his novels, the story ends at the last page of the book. He doesn't keep extending the line with the same pen in other novels.
I cannot wait to come to the last period or question mark in the Baroque Cycle.
So far, they have all been excellent and once you stop labeling Neal Stephenson as a stereotypical sci fi writer, you can quickly get into the Cycle.
"Odalisque" is the last book in the first volume and there are two more volumes to go. I'm not too sure why Audible decided to split up the three volumes into eight books, but so far, the third book is my favorite. The story is finally moving along in Baroque Cycle.
Unlike Quicksilver, which was basically the premise, and King of the Vagabonds, which was explaining the day wagers, Odalisque goes back at exams the hierarchy of the monarch. The story between of Daniel and Eliza makes it more compelling to read. The best part of this chapter in the series is the science and astronomy from Newton and his peers.
In any series that I listens to, at certain point I need to read something else because after the third book, I loose interest. Maybe because I'm a fan of Stephenson or been waiting to read Baroque Cycle, I'm powering through these books and can't wait for more.
In "Quicksilver" it was all about learning the elitist and the upper class, but in "King of the Vagabonds" it's all about understanding the have nots. I will keep this review short just because I cannot wait to continue with the series. In this book there is a lot more action than intellectual conversation between the classes. The best way to describe the Baroque Cycle series so far, think Ken Folliet and historical fiction, but from a cyber punk, Neal Stephenson.
I don't understand why some listeners are having a hard time getting through "Quicksilver." We all need to remember that this is just the first book of eight in The Baroque Cycle series. If you haven't read anything from Neal Stephenson before, please stop reading this review and go get some of his other titles to get familiarize with his style of writing.
That being said, I found "Quicksilver" to be excellent with the quirky math and the overall history of the 17th and 18th centuries in the European era. The characters are not all strict and serious. In fact, they are pretty humorous.
Like a five course meal, you start with a soup and salad. In the Baroque Cycle, there are seven more courses to go. I really enjoy at understanding the premise and hungry for more plates.
Just think as "Quicksilver" as an eight course meal that you just started.
I really think that David Epstein missed the boat when he wrote "The Sports Gene." The science in sports was interesting, but I really had a hard time relating to the materials. Instead of presenting examples of great athletes in team professional sports such as NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, Epstein focused on athletes that is not on the highlight reel. Too much information on runners from Kenya or the iditarod in Alaska. I understand that you need at least 10,000 hours of practice to be a excellent in something, but there wasn't enough example of professional athletes that we idolize.
I'm not into classic movies and I don't like watching black and white shows and if its not in high definition, I have a hard time tuning in. When it comes to literature, there are some books that are truly timeless. Who would had thought that I would read "Moby-Dick." I really thought that it was some overgrown fish causing pirates on boats boosting their egos, trying to catch it.
Besides the whale, its kind of funny. Herman Melville had a subtle sense of humor that I really enjoyed. It's hard to explain to someone that hasn't read the book yet, but his humor in his characters shows in his work.
Anything performed by the late Frank Muller is a pleasure to listen to. As an avid audiobook listener, I first got introduced to the audio format by listening to Mr. Muller. In my ears, there is no one better than Frank. His narration was superb in anything that he read. It's very hard to replace his unique voice that others doesn't have.
Unlike television and film, I really enjoy reading books that were published way before my time.
I'm not really sure how I feel about "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Vegas and acid trips were very redundant, than again I didn't find the movie much better either. Maybe I was born a different time to respect Hunter S. Thompson, but I'm not into bikers, dopers, or hoes. I found the book completely over the top and to be very basic.
The Volkswagen Beetle is an iconic car around the world. No matter where you are, what language you speak, you always know a VW Bug when you see one on the road or in the junk. "Thinking Small"is an excellent read about Volkswagen. Very interesting history behind the wheel. I've read my fair share of Adolf Hitler and the war, but I would never discover his story and Volkswagen if I didn't decide to get this book. It was very enjoyable and informational to listen to.
The book almost reminded me of Don Draper and his agency in Mad Men. I know its a weird comparison, but if you read the advertising marketing campaign for Volkswagen, I couldn't help flashing back to many episodes of Mad Men.
The story of the Beetle has this power flower love affair. I like cars and consider myself a gear head even though I never popped a hood in my entire life. Andrea Hiott wrote this book like a documentary novel. The history of the Bug is good, but she also explained on hoe everything worked in the rear engine car.
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