At the time I purchased this edition there was only one review on this site and it criticized the book for "endless dribble on the making of autobiography...very boring." Needless to say I was a bit concerned, but I have waited so long for this work to be released I went ahead and ordered.
This autobiography is thrilling for people, like me, who are devoted to the works of Samuel Clemens. This is the first volume of his autobiography which Clemens instructed not be published until one hundred years after his death.
Yes -- there are long passages of scholarly notes, what the previous reviewer called "endless dribble." This is an important work of history, requiring diverse sets of notes, letters and dictations made by Clemens over many years to be collected and woven together into one work. Clemens undertook to write an autobiography and then had several changes of mind and heart over the years, leaving for posterity an unfinished autobiography and diverse manuscripts needing to be pieced together. This volume has detailed notes on context, primary references and other information important to understanding how the various manuscripts are pieced together. That is why I think the contents ("List of Manuscripts and Dictations") is especially useful for following the audio version, as it allows listeners to have a sense of format, and to skip ahead as needed without being lost in citiations.
The chapters that contain Clemen's writing are pure Mark Twain. Here are candid notes about his life, his successes, his failures; candid observations of people he knew -- such as Ulysses S. Grant. I am listening with awe, and with goosebumps. Here is the autobiography that we had to wait a hundred years to read. I'm looking forward to the next volume (understatement).
The narrator is a good match for this work.
I doubt the average American has any clue that there are such large communities within the USA where people are so totally dominated. Listening to the reality of FLDS life under Warren Jeff's brings tales of the Taliban to mind.
What a sad and horrific personal story Ms Wall shares in this book. It is almost impossible to comprehend that women and children are no more than chattel, and that families are formed and torn asunder at the whim of a sect leader. A society of people where schooling is stopped at the 8th grade (or before), where girls as young as 12 are expected to marry and have sex with men often old enough to be their fathers or grandfathers, where healthcare and prenatal care are not provided -- .hard to believe this is happening in this century, let alone here in America.
When the FLDS compound was raided and the media showed children being torn from mothers I'm sure many, like me, thought it was wrong. Now I think the women, too, should be taken into custody. Certainly no child should be allowed to live in these communities. Every child deserves an education, and the chance to grow to adulthood without being subjugated into what amounts to slavery. Whatever good the FDLS have in their society is erased by the reality of the suffering and mind control.
The content of this book is riveting. The narration, as many others have pointed out, is atrocious. Are there no quality controls in the recording studio? One would expect a producer to stop the reader and command her to read the pages without the incessant simpering and whining. I gave the performance one star, but only because a minus stars is not an option.
I heard the author interviewed about this book on NPR. During the interview I found myself laughing out loud at Nora's tales of an aging female body. I was not prepared for the utter disappointment of reading this book.
There was nothing -- and I mean nothing -- I could empathize with in this book. Nora is only ten years older than I, so I am all-too-familiar with the effects of time on my body that she chronicles. While I can identify with the angst around the effects of aging, I cannot wrap my brain around living one's entire life, moment to moment, being as totally self-absorbed and superficially vain as this author and the many famous women with whom she says she spends her time.
To hear her tell it, she, and her famous female friends, spend most of their awake hours fussing over their attempts at looking good, or making critical observations about other women. Her presentation is sarcastic, flat and whiney to the point that I could not listen to her reading beyond the second chapter. (I read a print copy instead.)
"Vacuous" is not an adjective I would have anticipated applying to Nora Ephron until I heard her reading this book. Truly -- I think she is channeling Britney Spears.
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