It's always a pleasure to enjoy the clever and often thought-provoking prose of Arthur C. Clarke. Many of the storys included in this collection are true classics. Unfortunately, this abridged edition contains so little of of the complete text, admittedly an enormous compilation, that it's a bit like showing up for Thanksgiving and being offered a few tiny crumbs for dinner. Rather than releasing this as an abridged edition, I would have preferred that they release it as a periodical, including 5-10 stories every month in their full form. That could have kept us entertained for months on end... Oh well, the crumbs were small but tasty...
This is a good book. Perhaps a great book. But the reader has to be in the proper frame of mind before taking it on. Author Robert Penn Warren was a poet. A Southern poet. A Pulitzer Prize winning Southern Poet Laureate. And as a Pulitzer Prize winning Southern Poet Laureate, he has a particularly Southern way of telling a story. Any Southerner will understand. There are no short cuts for a true Southern story teller. You just have to sit back, relax, maybe pour yourself a cool glass of sweat tea and breathe out… breath in… breath out… There. Now you're ready. No. Wait. Let me turn on the porch fan. It can get a bit sticky up here on the porch in the late afternoon. Better? Good. Now we can begin. Hold it. What's that dog gotten into now? Oh. Never mind. The dog's right here, asleep under the chair. Must be a opossum under the porch again. We can worry 'bout that later. Now where was I? Oh yes. The book review…
Now imagine 500 pages of that. Yes, it's long, long-winded and sometimes it seems to take forever to get anywhere. But there is a good story here, full of politics, sex, intrigue, murder and a big, heapin' helpin' of Southern culture thrown in for good measure. Sensitive readers should be aware that the "N-word" is casually tossed about in the dialog of many characters throughout the book—Not for the purpose of supporting any racist agenda—but simply to accurately portray how many Southerners talked and thought at the time and place of the story. (Early 1920's-'30's Louisiana.)
So there you have it. This is a book for the literate, those interested in artful prose, Southern history, Southern sensibilities. It is a book that has and will undoubtedly stand the test of time. The themes and issues contained are themes and issues that human beings will always face. Lust, greed, sex, power, religion, influence, manipulation. Ultimately, it's a tale about the human condition, told in a slow, easy manner by a consummate Southern story teller. Enjoy.
Oh, and darlin'? My tea could use a little refresher. Thank you kindly.
I'm admittedly flumoxed by those who describe this book as "hilarious" or "laugh out loud funny". While well written and painfully honest in it's candor and descriptions of the author's childhood, it is anything but humorous. Since when do tales of an emotionally abusive and at best disintested father, an alcoholic and detached mother, difficulties in coming to terms with sexual identity, drug use, pan handling and child neglect constitute uproarious comedy?
The only benefit that I can see of this text from a comedic perspective is that is inspires personal recognition that if the human condition has sunk so low that this passes for humor then I must be living a charmed life. I count my lucky stars that my life contains so much joy and real laughter, bearing no resemblance whatsoever to that of the author. I feel deeply sorry for anyone who can find humor in this darkly, depressing material.
Finally, let me point out that I am not discouraging anyone from reading this text for what it is... a dark, autobiographic of severely disfunctional family. But if you're looking for laughs, everyone but the severely damaged should look elsewhere.
I read everything Heinlein ever wrote as a kid so I'm definitely a fan. This is a relatively simple "family in space" tale with relatively corny dialog and limited action. However, it is notable if for no other reason than Gene Roddenberry shameless lifted the idea for his famous "Trouble with Tribbles" Star Trek episode directly from this text. It's also hard to believe that Stone family's adventures didn't have great influence over the writers of the the "Lost in Space" television series. Just more evidence of Heinlein's visionary status in science fiction.
As a final note, the text is "performed" by actors rather than read by a narrator. Between the silly voice treatments and appaullingly cheesy bumper music, this is a difficult listen for adults...
I knew nothing about this book prior to listening other than it's long presence on the N.Y. Times bestseller lists and the fact that it had won some literary award. As a result, it took me some time to have any idea what it was supposed to be about. Did the title refer to three months, three women named June or something else. I wasn't at all sure. On top of this, the narrator's accent in first "June" section was so heavy that I found myself constantly re-winding and turning up the volume to understand a word. Fortunately, the narrator drops the brogue in later sections, though by then I had gotten more or less accustomed to it. The story does jump around through present events and past flashbacks rather severely which makes it a challenging listen. In the end, I have to admit that I did become fond of the characters and enjoyed listening to the story of their lives. Still, they are rather ordinary lives and those seeking action, adventure and intrique will definitely be left wanting--particularly by the ending which leaves the reader with a quiet sigh rather than a tidy conclusion.
My wife read this book so in the interest of marital hamony, I gave it a listen. It tells the story of a white southern teenage girl in the early sixties who flees a abusive father in search of answers about her life. The book is like peeking into the diary of a teenage girl as she struggles with questions such as "who loves me and why" and "which boy is cute" and "will I get in trouble for this or that?" An undercurrent of uneasy tension related to black/white relations and the civil rights stuggles of the 1960's exists throughout the narrative but these historical references ultimately play only an incidental role in the story. It's a good, not great, story... heart-warming at points, but I can't say that it struck me on any deep emotional level. In retrospect, I view this book as being a lot like a hot South Carolina summer... warm, sticky, sweet and heavy... with no rush to get anywhere in particular any time soon... but comfortable enough on a soft spot under a shade tree. Enjoy.
I found this book to be thoroughly UNenjoyable. Once again, Tom Robbins has populated a narrative with depressingly unlikable characters, each burdened by a vast array of disturbing idiosyncrasies. Based upon the rave reviews that Robbins' works often receive, I had hoped that "Fierce Invalids" was merely a freakish aberration that had deluded readers into lauding a comic farce for its shear eccentricity. Instead, it seems clear that a perverse universe is an integral element of Robbins' "style". I shall not be fooled again by clever titles or the misguided ravings of fanatical Robbins worshippers. The emperor has no clothes. This book is simply terrible--road kill on the literary freeway. Passersby are tempted to stare in grotesque fascination but my advice is to resist these urges at all cost! Robbins writing style is littered throughout with awkwardly bizarre turns of phrase and alliteration so heavy-handed that it one would think the text was written by a freshman English major who just discovered how to use a thesaurus.
Barry Bostwick's clumsy narration only adds to the overall displeasure. While Bostwick is a talented actor, his amateurish bludgeoning of this text only establishes how very talented professional narrators really are. Bostwick wildly pitch poles between reverberant shouts and inaudible whispers requiring the listener to remain ever poised above the volume controls and the rewind buttons to even understand much of the dialogue. His voice characterizations are sadly inept, reducing one female voice to a breathy whisper and others to poor impressions of W.C. Fields and Harvey Firestein.
There are many fine audio books available. This is not one of them.
An odd story about unpleasant characters with disturbing personal vices. Robbins seems determined to portray mankind in only it's most negative light. There's not a likable character in the lot. The style seems forced, always concentrating more on the next clever turn of phrase rather than the plot. The narration is good and the story may well appeal to those who derive enjoyment from peering into the dark recesses of perverse subcultures or tipping over rocks to stare at the gooey masses living beneath.
This is a good book and good narration. It moves right along even in its unabridged form. I found that I usually "guessed" the solution to many of the puzzles, codes and mysteries before the author actually got around to revealing them which makes the reader feel "smart". Asking around, I find that most readers reported a similar experience. Literary snobs can criticize writing style, plotting, believability, etc. but in the end, this is good entertainment. Enjoy!
This is an interesting book. It's an alarmist view of a future in which genetic engineering runs amok. I'm certain that the "no genetically engineered foods" activists will eat it up like candy.
However, the book is disappointing in many ways. We are drawn into the this complex relationship between the three main characters and then left wanting when their relationship culiminates in a rather unfulfilling climax with only threadbare indications as to the underlying motivations of their actions.
In the end the story just sort of trails off aimlessly, ultimately ending with a fizzle rather than a BANG. It's not a bad book but don't expect any grand revelations from Ms. Atwood. She obviously expects you to provide your own conclusions... Is this a literary choice, laziness or lack of imagination on the part of the author?
You be the judge... as I said "Some assembly required..."
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