If you've seen the movie, you ain't seen nothin' yet! The book is an exceptional one to listen to IF YOU CAN FIND THE VERSION NARRATED BY DOUGLAS ADAMS. And the one currently offered by Audible.com isn't it.
Stephen Fry's a wonderful actor, but he's nowhere near as wonderful as Adams is as the narrator of his own work. As a side note, Audible.com DOES carry the Adams-narrated versions of the rest of the Hitchhiker's Guide "Trilogy".
The material is truly inspired. Philosophical and down to earth (so to speak). If you've got a post-modern sense of irony but find phrases such as "post-modern sense of irony" pretentious and yawn-worthy -- you've found your pick. It's delightful from start to finish, and offers more food for thought than you might imagine.
This was one of my first Audible listens. I'm not sure whether the unabridged version was available when I purchased the abridged version, or if I was just too new to audible to realize that unless it says (unabridged) the book is abridged.
Either way, I listened to the abridged version, but would recommend purchasing the unabridged version if you decide on this title. I found the ending of the abridged version very abrupt, and also felt that I was missing all the pieces that would've made the final encounter between the two lovers truly poignant.
Even so, I enjoyed this book, but I wish I'd listened to the entire book and not the short version.
The idea of a "cemetary of forgotten books" was just too much for me to pass up. What a beautifully romantic idea.
I liked this listen, but didn't love it. At it's heart it's more the story of Daniel's coming of age in post-WWII Barcelona. And, as such, it is touching, though banal. The literary mystery, while interesting, is oddly paced and doesn't really take off until about half way through the book. Ultimately, the stories of the mysterious author, Julian Carax, and his circle of friends and enemies is far more compelling than the story of Daniel and *his* friends and enemies.
The stories within stories within stories is a structural conceit I generally enjoy, but found it didn't quite work here. Perhaps there was a bit too much emphasis on hammering home the parallels between Daniel's life and Julian's life. Additionally, I think the book could've benefited tremendoustly from a strong editor's hand prior to publication.
Still, there is much to like about this book. The characters are well-rounded. The sense of place is rich and detailed. The narrator is good. It's the plot that doesn't always keep up.
Generally I'm a big fan of unabridged works, but in this instance, I'd recommend checking out the abridged version of the book (if it's available).
This was my first audiobook, and wow was I spoiled! The story is gripping and beautiful, the narrator transporting and spot-on.
Two little girls are sold into prostitution in pre-WWII Japan after the death of their mother. The elder, less pretty, less clever one to a low class brothel -- while the younger, prettier and more clever one is sent to be raised as a Geisha. This is her story. And what a story it is, fraught with passion, jealousy, unrequited love, friendship and betrayal, and spanning several decades.
Not only is this a fascinating tale of one woman's coming of age in the rarefied world of the Japanese Geisha, it is also a fascinating look at Japanese culture, as well as an interesting description of the sexual politics of a specific place and time.
This was my first listen to a Robert Ludlum book. I think his style is perfectly suited to the audio format, and I was right about that. The demands on the narrator are significant, and he delivers nicely (though does sometimes drop an accent here and there, which I found understandable).
Unlike many of Ludlum's other books, this one takes place post-Cold War, and that may be the problem. The enemy is far more diffuse, and that hurts a spy novel. Ultimately, I found the character of Nick Bryson (the protagonist) to be quick on his feet and with languages and all the gadgets of an undercover operative, but kind of under-par when it came to emotional IQ and dialogue and just plain common sense. I can't say I found him outright stupid but, given his often childish comments and ruminations on the situations in which he finds himself, he was pretty darn close.
The story was intriguing, but ultimately the denoument was a let-down. I didn't feel there was an adequate wrap-up of what Ted Waller's role in the book really meant to Bryson as a person (not a spy) and the nature of the conspiracy is so diffuse that it's difficult to see whether or not Bryson's actions actually had any effect on the freight train that is their ambition to "take over the world". Also, it was never quite made clear precisely HOW the conspirators would weild their power on an international level once it was consolidated -- HOW they intended to circumvent governments, WHY the power itself held interest for the "bad guys" when the financial gain is so obvious. Their ideology was not convincingly presented. That was disappointing, and felt like a big plot hole that only fully revealed itself at the end.
My favorite Ludlum, for the afficianados out ther, is THE MATARESE CIRCLE. I so wish it was available in unabridged format on audible!
Anyway, to summarize: The narrator's good. The plot is adequate, but ultimately disappointing. And the main character is a bit wooden.
Humbolt's Gift is a disappointing foray into what could have been a deeply moving meditation on The Big Issues. But it fails, primarily due to the laughably narcissistic and irritating nature of the faux-intellectual narrator, Charlie Citrine.
So ridiculous and UNintellectual is Citrine (unless regurgitating, in vastly dumbed-down fashion, the theories, thoughts and theses of great Western minds qualifies as intellectual) that I wasn't at all certain Bellow intended Citrine to be taken seriously. Except that he's neither comical nor satirized. Charlie and Humbolt are both classically well-educated, but neither manages to move beyond the syllabus and into the realm of truly creative thought. The fact that both consider themselves artists is simulatneously amusing and infuriating.
Citrine is nothing more than a shallow, pseudo-intellectual in the midst of a spiritual crisis. Okay, even shallow, pseudo-intellectuals are entitled to their crises, but dressing them up in existential stoles and passing them off as profound doesn't work.
Bellow's prose, however, is lovely as always.
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