I bought this book because I'm an unabashed Steve Martin fan and not too proud to admit I was one of the thousands who went to his comedy concerts in major arenas, relishing in every rendition of King Tut or his Grandma's song. For someone who's an excellent writer of screenplays, his autobiographical writing style is really too full of cliches and elementary similes, but in the end the book provides what it advertises: a look into the process that created (IMO) one of the most gifted stand-up comedians of this or any other generation. It'a quick and enjoyable listen, but really only if you're a fan of Martin. I don't think it would appeal to anyone else.
I liked this book up to the last couple of chapters when it totally bogged down in the legal battles between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. I'm not sure who gets painted worse with the ugly brush in this book. Woody certainly comes off as a guy with serious neuroses and problems, but Farrow gets her share of criticism for her near-pathologic need to adopt children. The best parts are the ones that provide insight into Allen's moviemaking. If you like his stuff, buy the book and turn it off when the courtroom junk starts.
A 4 out of 5 rating is a little unfair on my part because I truly enjoyed the book. It's an in-depth look at the bad side/back side of the restaurant business from someone really in the know, and for a novice narrator, the author does a fine job reading his own material, giving the extra punch to those lines as only he (as the author) could. I have to take off a star for my own ignorance of haute cuisine - many of the dishes he talks about, with French or Italian names, I just couldn't understand from hearing them - they probably would have made more sense reading them off the page. And there was a little bit too much of Bourdain's own battle with his alcohol and drug demons - I don't really care about that stuff and it got very old after a while. But overall, for someone like me whose only knowledge of restaurants comes from what I see on my plate when I order, it was enlightening, entertaining, and even occasionally frightening! Well worth the investment.
I'm still trying to figure out what this book has to do with "reconstruction". It didn't follow the premise of its first chapter, in which people who view a crime being committed can't quite remember in exacting detail the specifics of the crime. It may have something to do with the process of "reconstructing" Iraq, but this doesn't take place until well into the second half of the book. I think the best title would have been "Are you the lady?", the line spoken by the unfortunate teenager who kidnaps 4 people inside a suburban London nursery school. Overall, I liked the book, and the author is very clever with some of his wordplay. The characters are believable, and you care about them. You even know some of them from your own personal life, like Judy, the angry frump who sees the whole world as being out to make her life miserable. The narrator did a nice job of lending individual substance and voicing to make each character come alive, though her veddy English accent was hard to decipher sometimes. I can see some people buying this book expecting it to be about something other than what it really is - a nice modern day, softball spy novel, sort of what you'd get if Tom Clancy meets Janet Evanovich - and being disapponted.
This might have been the worst purchase I have made yet from Audible. I'd give it negative stars if that were possible. I still like the idea of the book and maybe it would have been a better "read" in print - perhaps it just didn't translate well into the spoken format. The horrendous narrator didn't help either (is there anything more annoying that an American trying to fake an India accent?). I'd love to ask for my credit back, but it died like everything else associated with this horrendioma. Save your credit, save your ears, save yourself and don't buy this audiobook.
Another example of a good idea that wasn't. Hurwitz's story has some interesting twists and turns, and in the hands of a better writer, this one could have been great. I would have loved to have seen what Michael Connelly or Stephen Cannell could have done with it. It shocks me that at the conclusion of the reading, an interview with the author revealed that he had been an essayist before starting a new career in fiction. One would think that an accomplished essayist would not have had to put a simile in every single sentence (or maybe it just seemed that way). After a while, it was nauseating and totally detracted from the story. Memo to writers: WRITE THE STORY AND STOP TRYING SO HARD! A great tale will flow, on its own, and doesn't need verbage describing a bruise over the protagonist's eye as "sprouting broken blood vessels like the hairs on Medusa's head". Ugh. To borrow from Hurwitz's style: like a child oversated on dime-store chocolate who finds he no longer wants his dinner, I won't be going back for more.
Sorry, I have to admit it. I'm a huge Christopher Moore fan. Admittedly, this author is not for everyone; you have to totally suspend belief in order to keep going when his stories start departing from reality, and just go along for the ride. "Fluke" is no exception: try explaining the plot to another person, and you'll wind up sounding like a candidate for a bed at Bellvue. But it's usually a great ride, and a great read; funny, full of memorable, outrageous characters but never so "over the top" that you can't get on board with them. And nobody writes a line like Christopher Moore. With every book, I find myself quoting his characters on a daily basis. My advice to you: put aside that crime novel, that self-help book, that evil government spy drivel, and pick up Christopher Moore. Suspend belief and get ready to grin and snicker like a Whaley Boy.
I'm not quite sure I understand how or why an A-list novelist like Grisham could publish, under his own name, such a blatant rip-off of other works. Haven't we already seen the story of a big chemical corporation poisoning the water supply of a small town, causing numerous innocents to die of toxin-related cancers? I wonder if John Travolta will be asked to play the role of the lead attorney who risks financial ruin to defend the little guy in the film of this movie, too. And the notion of deep-pocketed, politically-connected tycoons buying elections isn't new, either - that's been done, oh, a thousand times before in movies and print?
The lack of an original idea could have been forgiven somewhat as "artistic license" had the story flowed well, but it gets bogged down with an endless parade of characters who, for the most part, do nothing to advance the story. The only characters I actually cared about, the Paytons, are ignored for large stretches, just when their plight became interesting.
The narrator, to make matters worse, was TERRIBLE and I doubt I'll ever buy a book again if he's involved. Every single one of his voice characterizations is the same pathetic attempt at a Mississippi drawl, the only difference between them being whether he raised his voice an octave to indicate a female. (In his defense, there are SO MANY characters that it would have been a Herculean effort to make them all unique.)
I'd bet all lovers of Grisham will buy this book in print or audio form just to say they read it, but I'd be shocked if the overall impression of this one is favorable. John, you really rested on your laurels with this one.
A great premise wasted. By the time Jeffrey Deaver got around to finishing the story, it has taken so many twists and turns that the plot goes from interesting to plausible to "what??". How many double agents and backstabbers can you fit into a 6-hour listen? Lisa Scottoline's chapter was terrible and detracted from the story, but Lee Child tried his best. Alfred Molina's narration was superior and I hope that he makes a career move of this. If you have a "free" credit, go for it, otherwise spend it elsewhere.
If you're looking for the next tome on what's wrong with the world, how to make money without trying, or by-the-numbers sadists trying to destroy the world, you need Christopher Buckley to teach you how to listen to a book and just LAUGH. Oh, the rest of us need it too. The guy is hilarious. I don't recommend driving while you listen, it could be hazardous to your health. If you have no sense of humour, don't waste your money because you'll hate it, but maybe Buckley can teach you something about enjoying your life more.
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