Read The New Yorker article that was the basis for this book--it gets the point across more succinctly, and without all the snarling. I found the faux tough-guy tone tiresome. Are we supposed to be impressed, intimidated, frightened? My, aren't you tough and cool! I washed dishes in various restaurants, mostly overseas, for several months and never noticed that the crews were more drug-addled, dangerous or crazy than in any number of other occupations. As to his chapter on Japan, I lived there for a couple of years and ate in plenty of tiny restaurants, including at Tsukiji market. Most evenings I ate my dinner at "Shomben Yoko-cho" (Piss Alley) after work. These are quaint and colorful experiences that are not well served by Bourdain's jacked-up, confrontational, "bring it on!" style. To me, testosterone and food don't mix.
As usual, reading the reactions of others is as interesting as the book itself. I'm apparently in the minority in not enjoying this. It dragged for me, with tedious details of ordinary life and ultimately, no particular point other than Claire loves Henry, and Henry loves Claire.
As a love story it doesn't exploit time travel to any more interesting end, and as a time travel story the effect seems wasted in the service of an ordinary, rather mushy love story. Oh Claire, Claire! Oh Henry, Henry! After about the tenth hour of this, I was saying oh, please.
An author who uses time travel has an obligation to bring something new to the idea I think. Not just in its mechanics (he travels unwillingly), which is easy, but in its ramifications. In particular, don't dismiss the paradox (some half-hearted mentions of how a time traveler can't change anything, but of course his or her presence in the past does change things, so could change things in such a way as to render the future from whence the traveler came, impossible). Bring a fresh approach to the paradox, or don't bother with time travel.
In an especially zany episode, Homer Simpson once accidently turned his toaster into a time machine. Each time he returned to the distant past, and while dodging dinosaurs, slapped a mosquito, or tread on a leaf, he changed history. Upon his return, his family would have forked tongues, or two heads, or it rained donuts. A novelist ought to be able to do as well as the Simpsons.
Also in the minority in my dislike of both narrators. Too saccharine at times, a monotone (Claire's voice) at others. And I thought the guy sounded like a dip.
This was the first audiobook I had an urge to listen to outside the commute. I took the player for walks through the local cemetary to finish it. She has a "great voice for radio", and you can't beat a first-person account, even though much of the action involves haggling over visas and organizing bribe money.
Though the war itself ended practically before it began, it didn't matter for this book since it is not about the military aspect of the war. Instead she focused on conveying an empathy with the common Iraqis, something missing from much media coverage, and providing a sharp-eyed view of the (fortunately) limited action that did take place in the city.
I found the "Brenda Bulletins" written and read by her husband rather saccharine, and could have done without them. She speaks for herself well enough. And they could have come up with a better title.
The topic is an interesting one but I was distracted by the author's diction which is garbled and rushed. It's surprising that someone who can write so well speaks so indistinctly. Also he has the quirk of saying "the" with a short e rather than "thee", before a word beginning with a vowel. For example "thuh obvious conclusion". I don't mind this in casual speech but found it grating in a professional reading--sounds like amateur hour.
I think the topic is more suited to a written text anyway, as math equations read aloud are difficult to follow--you need to see them all at once to see the relationships--at least I do.
To my surprise several reviews complain about Lewis's reading of his own book--they found his voice monotonous or uninspiring. I found his gravelly old voice rich and authoritative. And he seems to know his way around the Arabic language and the Koran.
He has a keen eye for hypocrisy, and holds all sides to a consistent moral standard. He doesn't hesitate to speak plainly when he thinks a group is using religion as a pretext for indulging in irresponsible or even violent behavior. Of which unfortunately he is able to cite many examples.
The book is concise and up-to-date, so is a good choice for a high-school or college text.
This was the first book I got from Audible, and it set a high standard for future selections.
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