I first read about this novel in the pages of the late (as in deceased, unfortunately) American Heritage magazine. I was intrigued enough by the review and by Wilder's comments that I thought I would give it a try. I am so glad I did. In a beautifully crafted, tight narrative, Wilder weaves a tale that is spellbinding. I admit to being a little skeptical (Willy Wonka has written a novel?)--but I'm glad I took chance. You will too. The only disappointment was the brevity of the novel-- I just didn't want it to end!!
Without question, this was one of the most enjoyable audio books I've ever listened to.
First off, I want to say that Bryan Cranston's narration was spot on. As you would expect his rendition of the characters is one of the huge selling points for this title. Which, if a person is familiar with Tim O'Brien, is a gripping account of life as an ordinary soldier in Viet Nam. The book is composed of a series of short accounts focused on one of the soldiers O'Brien served with. Ted Lavender, Curt Lemon, and the others become very real characters, imbued with tragedy even when they survive the war. This is a short work that in an interesting way is not marred by the frequent repetitions. Finally, the final part is an extended narration by the author which focuses on the impact the war had on his life. This part relates his impressions of things when he returned to the country in the 1990s. Seeing places where he'd fought, and people whom he had fought against. I don't want to spoil things, so let me just say that if you want to gain a sense of how the war impacted Americans and you don't want the stereotypes and cliches this is a great start. And even if all you want is to hear how a great actor can enrich and not overwhelm the text, this is a great selection.
As a longtime New Yorker subscriber I have always prized the magazine for its great lineup of writers, past and present. So when I heard of this collection I was excited to make the acquaintance of a writer I was only dimly familiar with. Some of the stories in this collection are witty and wonderful. The incompetent counterfeiter. The various petty criminals, arsonists, and crackpots. But there are a couple of longer stories that mar this collection. Partly because there is no editor to explain the context of these stories, both about the author himself (one a story about his accusation that Chester Nimitz was a traitor and the other a meandering story about a possible kidnapping/murder plot which was most likely either a prank or a delusion) but also because it is harder to really understand the point the author was trying to make. Anyway. Leaving these longer stories out would have left the book a couple of hours shorter, but not appreciably less fascinating. McKelway seems to have been most at home with the oddball criminals and either full blown lunatics or at least quite eccentric characters of the era. There is a real fondness for exploring these troubled souls and, especially in the hapless counterfeiter story, it is hard not to feel some genuine sympathy or even liking for them. Also, McKelway was true to the New Yorker tradition for seamless prose. Even the shorter pieces bear the mark of a master. The only other complaint, a mild one surely, is that the narrator is good at description and narrative, but when assuming a character's voice, especially the female characters, his narration begins to falter badly. An enjoyable book but you may want to fast forward some.
I have been an enormous fan of Tony Judt for a very long time. His brilliant insights into the tumultuous history of the modern world have enlivened many of my days (and nights). He was a brilliant writer who faced death with an incredible amount of courage. What a gift he had, and this book is a worthy addition to his too brief a canon. I was saddened when I read of his death but also relieved that the torment that he faced with such dignity was over. Judt's work here is fine and made more remarkable considering the difficulties he had to endure in the last parts. I know his final work just came out and look forward to adding it to my collection. Brilliant historian whose craftsmanship shows throughout.
Or should that be Lite? Because like the beers that label themselves thus, this book is ultimately not unpleasant, but also on the whole left me a little unsatisfied. I think the redeeming aspect of the book are that some of the essays are a little more stimulating than others, but unfortunately there are too many that are so superficial they almost just seem like blog posts that a philosophy undergrad wrote. Don't think that I hated the book. I didn't. I enjoyed it (mostly) but I just wanted more. The best part of the book is the exploration of some of the more interesting Iron Man story lines, such as Tony Stark's alcoholism. These exploration of varied plot devices in the comic books make this a good intro to the world of Iron Man. Thumbs partially up.
What a fun book! I admit to being a big fan of comic books but I have never been a huge fan of Superman. I always had a hard time with the fact that he is virtually invincible. But I took a chance because I was looking for something diverting (I had just slogged through a couple of long nonfiction works) and I am very glad I did. Scott Brick does his usual fine job of bringing characters to life and the pacing of this novel was very comic book like. It proceeds quickly and Superman's dual identity, as a man and an extraterrestrial, is actually quite compelling. This is not great literature but it doesn't pretend to be. What it is is a fine story, expertly narrated and of the ideal length for long commutes. I'm hoping for more like this!
Okay, lame title for the review. However, I chose it because although I knew nothing of Lively until this book, it sounded interesting. And it was. Not compelling. Not an exciting page turner for certain. Still, there is an incredible amount of insight into the life of a very wise and genteel lady. She sounds to me as if she would be a wonderful person to sit and have a long conversation with. Indeed, I guess that was the attraction of this book for me. It was like having a long but not overly so, conversation with an intelligent and charming member of a distinctive generation. Hard for me to explain, but it made me want to read her fiction to learn if it could match the quiet beauty of her nonfiction. Also, the narrator is one I am unfamiliar with but her voice was soothing without being soporific. Thank you Audible for introducing me to this author. And Kelly Birch, I look forward to more of your narration.
Clare Danes truly inhabits this novel. I call it intelligent dystopian fiction because there is so much schlock right now (Google dystopian fiction and you get overwhelmed). But this is a masterpiece. Not just of a genre. That is insulting. This is brilliant, numbing literature. Danes conveys the intensity of this novel perfectly. I worried when I started this that it would be Clare Danes doing her Homeland schtick. Not to worry. Danes takes Atwood's words and breathes honesty and horror into every line. This book imagines a future misogynist society that sadly is not as implausible as many of its critics acknowledge. There is enough antiwoman reality in the world now to make that point. Atwood's novel should be read by everyone who wants to know how literature can convey existential truths better than the best nonfiction ever could. You will be changed by this book and you will never forget it either. Danes is a masterful narrator and I am so grateful that she added this audiobook to her great repertoire.
It is obvious I hope from my uniformly giving this title two stars across the board that I am not a fan of this book. I was not expecting anything as brilliant as Doyle's creation of Sherlock Holmes but this book missed the mark in almost every respect. Except for a few mild chuckles, the book did not elicit much from me. The stories were unremarkable, the narration was inconsistent (changed his pronunciation of cavalry to the common mispronunciation of Calvary and back again, as an example) and passionless. I just could not muster any enthusiasm for this book. Its only virtue was that it was mercifully short.
No, I remain an optimist at heart. But I probably will preview titles more thoroughly in the future.
I will be very wary of subjecting myself to John Bolen again.
I wish it did make me react with anger, sadness, or disappointment. I just felt blah. Maybe I could call it disappointment at a low frequency. And I wanted to like this book.
It is rare for me to comment. This book is the first in a long time that I didn't enjoy. At the same time, maybe more sympathetic listeners (or hardcore Doyle enthusiasts) will fancy this book. I didn't.
Yes, if my friend was in the mood for some absolutely delightful yet totally frivolous fiction. I am not trying to sound like a snob, because I truly enjoyed this book, but it is the fluffiest pastry of a book that I've either read or listened to in quite some time. That being said, I bought this book for one reason--the narrator. Katherine Kellgren is one of my absolute favorites (is there a fan club?) and I will purchase almost anything she performs. And performance it is. She is a gifted vocal actress and I recommend her to everyone I know, with the caveat that her books tend to be on the light side. Story was fine, sweetly old fashioned British mystery. Safe enough to recommend to aged parents.
Yes, indeed! While I love reading (my favorite activity) I was entranced by Anne Hathaway's spectacular rendition of the various characters in Oz. She brings a liveliness and sparkle to all the voices which makes this one of those books where you deliberately miss the off-ramp just to keep listening a few minutes longer (you know you do it too). The book is a charming little children's tale. The audio version is a breathless leap into a world that defies imagination.
Nothing really compares to the world of Oz. But, for fun you might like Gregory Maguire's alternate take on the Oz myth, Wicked and the sequels.Not as good as Baum's originals but good nonetheless.
While it is impossible to pick out a single favorite, I have to say everything with the soft-spoken wizard was delightful. Hathaway's southern inflected wizard is a joy.
It made me grin like a maniac with pleasure. This performance is close to perfect. In fact, give it a ten! Or, maybe an eleven (with apologies to Spinal Tap).
Don't think this is just for kids. Be warned though. Stodgy people, young or old, will not like or get it. But then, they never did.
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