Using my monthly credit for this book was a mistake. Having enjoyed "The Snow Leopard" and "At Play in the Fields of the Lord," I expected "Shadow Country" to be wonderful, especially since it won the National Book Award. But now I would like to know what the judges for the National Book Award were smoking when they read this. I'm even wondering if they read it or just got caught up in Peter Matthiessen's reputation and wanted to honor him in his old age. I am a fairly literary reader but except for the author's fascination with Mr. Watson I don't even see the point of this book. It's a labored and repetitious retelling over 40 hours of what would have been better told in a short story. Heminway might have told the whole Watson legend in five pages. Faulkner might have taken 200 pages. But more than 1,000 pages is beyond taste. Making the Audible version even worse, this narrator's attempt to do various Southern accents is more confusing than helpful. Many narrators are able to create distinctive voices for each character. But this book is mostly told in a high pitched stage whisper that grates on the nerves very quickly. This only makes following a long, long drawn out story told by multiple narrators hard to follow. I checked over at the Amazon Web page for this book and it appears many readers of the print and Kindle editions had the same reaction. I realize other readers appear to have loved this book, but I for one cannot see it. I would suggest reading a few pages of the print edition in either the libary or a bookstore to see if you really want to spend 40 hours with this tome.
I found this very disappointing. Creasy has a rambling lecture style featuring suspicious anecdotes about his personal life that do not really illuminate the text of Romans. One minute he's trying to be a professor, the next a preacher and then a stand-up comic. He isn't very good at any of these roles. I will have to look somewhere else for a better commentary on Romans.
This novel is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a drunkalogue by a practicing alcoholic on the verge of insanity. But while Jack Kerouac was a sometime crazy booze hound, he was also a very insightful writer. And yes, when he was living through this particular bad San Francisco trip, he was a sometimes drunk and full-time crackup. However. When he got back home to his mother's house on the East Coast and wrote this book in the solitude that protected his gift, he was clear-eyed. In the hours and days of his lucidity, he detailed his alcoholism, he unflinchingly recorded the flaws in his character that brought on his nervous breakdown. So here we have the Beat Generation not as the Disney characters of nostalgia but as the good, bad and ugly people they were when a very introverted Catholic/Buddhist writer with a ton of talent hung out with them and hung in with them to the point of his own self-destruction.
Tom Parker, as always, does a great job bringing these mostly long-dead voices back to life.
There are some helpful meditation pointers here although Jack Kornfield is a little too New Age for my taste.
Technically there is a problem with the editing of this audio book. Towards the end, whole sections are word-for-word, story-for-story, joke-for-joke repeats from earlier sections. Perhaps an error happened when the CD version was converted to digital download format.
Thanks to this book, I have a better understanding of what personality traits make for a psychopath diagnosis. Obviously, there are psychopaths among us, not only in prisons and mental hospitals but also in executive suites and government offices. This helps explain why corporations and politics are so dysfunctional. We have almost no philospher kings and too many psychopaths in leadership positions. Doubt much can be done about this situation. But after listening to this book I am no longer surprised at the crazy things CEOs and politicians do.
This is a very important book for introverts seeking to understand themselves and defend themselves in a society dominated by extroverts. (I'm afraid it is too much to expect extroverts to read this book as they are always sure they are right and that everyone including introverts needs to take part in all the fun social and collaborative projects they dream up.) Especially important are the sections on workplace practices designed by extroverts that border on being abusive to introverts.
I hope the 25% of the population that are introverts will be moved by this book to stand up for themselves in social, family and workplaces situations where extroverts rule.
Anyone who thinks the degeneration of the American family is something new will get an eye-opener in this story of twisted family values and a web of lies covering murders spanning three decades.
Even hardboiled Lew Archer, the classic auditor detective, was surprised and saddened when he finally solved this murder myster.
Jacob Needleman gives a very listenable reading of the classic Tao. However, I was less impressed with the second part where he lectures on the text. He gets carried away refuting the "go with the flow" cliche, which seemed like overkill.
This is pure Zen philosophy without the ritual nonsense about tea ceremonies, mediation techniques and sitting positions. If you like Alan Watts, then you will love this book.
This was Dick's last novel and contains zero science fiction.
PKD always wanted to be a literary novelist but had to write scifi for the $. Finally at the end of his life he had enough money via film rights sales of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Blade Runner) to write what he wanted. Then he died shortly after seeing the rushes for Blade Runner. So he never got to experience being a famous Hollywood writer. Maybe just as well.
Anyway onward, Transmigration is told in the first person by Angel Archer, a very cynical woman done by the narrator (Joyce Bean) in a pitch-perfect voice.
The novel presents a medium cool portrait of the San Francisco scene in the 1970s with Bishop Pike (Timothy Archer) and Alan Watts (Edgar Barefoot) as major characters.
Two of my favorite lines come toward the end when the Watts character tells Angel she should not come to his lectures for his words of wisdom but for the sandwiches he offers for the students when the talk is over. "Someday perhaps you'll come for the sandwich. But I doubt that. I think you will always need the pretext of words." The other is when Angel promises to take care of Bill, her schizophrenic friend, when he gets out of a psychiatriic hospital. Angel tells him "I will see you as you were; I will not give up. You will remember the ground again."
"... remember the ground ..." somehow that seems like something we all need to do at this very weird present moment.
This novel is one of the masterpieces of 20th Century American literature. Once you start listening to it, it is very difficult to stop as the suspense grips the reader and never lets go. While it was written in the 1970s and set in the early 1990s, it is a classic examination of the dark heart of the American Dream with just enough redemption to offer a glimpse of a hopeful future, eventhough as of early 2012, that future is yet to materialize as the U.S. seems to be slouching towards some form of the self-destruction Stephen King envisioned four decades ago. The Audible version of The Stand gets a big boost from Grover Gardner, who is the best narrator currently working. And fortunately for us he works a lot.
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