Honestly, if you are a big audiobook connoisseur this is probably far from what you are used to hearing or might expect. It is fairly dry, yet humourous; short, yet thoughtful; but, ultimately, this is an incredibly self-aware work. I wish I could be more specific than that, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone else who might not only thoroughly enjoy this essay, but also be in on the joke.
The first time I listened to this, I did not enjoy it at all; but since I was in a hospital waiting room at the time, waiting for my appendix to burst, I decided I should give it another chance -- and I'm glad I did! I feel like I had an excuse for not giving it a fair hearing initially, so perhaps others will do the same in the future.
I enjoyed this book, but it took me a bit. I only say that because I found "Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World" by Jennifer Armstrong to be more engrossing.
This is a very comprehensive account of the expedition ("Shipwreck" is more cinematic and prosaic, where this book is more of a documentary), and it was great to get more in depth with the true tale of an incredible expedition.
My only criticism is that the book is a bit on the dry side (which, as a historical account, can be expected to some extent), but the narration was wonderful and managed to really pull me in in spite of the text itself.
I loved this book. I finished it in one sitting. I could not stop until the end.
While this is hardly a comprehensive account of the expedition ("Endurance" by Alfred Lansing is excellent in this regard, with much more detail and depth), I really prefer this telling -- very epic and cinematic.
My only criticism is the narration paled a bit in comparison to the narrative itself, but with material this inspiring that is a tall order -- and, frankly, I was so enrapt that I didn't even notice most of the time.
I suppose anything is possible, but if you're in the market for a book by Penn Jillette, you're probably a fan in the first place and more than prepared for gratuitous language and, well...gratuitous everything.
This book was more self-indulgent than I had expected -- less philosophical and more anecdotal. I would use the word "irreverent" confidently to describe this book, but Penn's stories about his family were anything but, and incredibly touching.
In the end, this is a well-performed, human book by a tremendously successful ex-carnie who happens to be an outspoken atheist -- and outspoken in general. That Penn himself reads the book is what really brings it to life. You can take the carnie out of the carnival, but not vice versa. Good filthy fun!
The only negative about this audiobook is that the bonus short stories seem a bit lackluster after hearing the book itself.
The writing, performance, and overall presentation are nearly unmatched. No wonder this was the audiobook of the year. Why did I not listen to this sooner? Simply remarkable.
The novelty of this performance was enticing, but it simply pales in comparison to the original Orson Welles radio dramatization. I like these actors, but they just don't sell it.
Accept no substitutions. Listen to the original and then check out the Radiolab show about it (Google is your friend). You'll be glad you did.
This charming, delightful tale is, unfortunately, wholly unsuitable for children.
If it were the pirates or other antagonists in this story maybe it would be a good object lesson: "See, Billy? Only bad people call names and mistreat others because of the color of their skin." But as it stands, it is the animals who use racial slurs and insults alongside their otherwise endearing speech mannerisms and personalities.
"Stop quarreling! Life's too short," the good doctor admonishes at one point. And there are a lot of good morals in this book which are explicit; but the implicit message ends up being, "It's perfectly acceptable to be racist, so long as you're delightful and charming otherwise."
Some would argue that retaining these elements is important, as it reflects the culture of the time. But this is not a historical piece, and the racist elements are absolutely not integral to the plot, tone, or characters of this story. Instead, they merely serve as a reminder of why racism was (and is!) so endemic and pervasive: children learn by example, and each generation leads the next. That these elements infiltrated children's literature speaks to just how insidious racism is and how deep the roots grow.
I don't know if anyone will ever read this review. For some reason this audiobook is no longer available and has been superseded by a new, identical audiobook. But seeing the 1-star review someone else had left compelled me to write my own, just in case.
I'm not sure what else to say, but this short story for which I paid nothing was personal, thoughtful, and flawlessly presented. It's science fiction with a soul, and both the author and narrator can now count me as a fan. I look forward to listening to this again.
Wow. This was solid, gripping storytelling. Unlike most Sci-fi, there was only one bit that struck me as cheesy and out of place, taking me out of the story (a reference to, of all things, the racially insensitive Disney feature 'Song of the South'. Seriously).
I was fortunate enough to get this audiobook for free, but I will definitely be checking out more of Scalzi's work going forward!
Oddly enjoyable, if a bit disjointed and not quite fully realized.
I could go either way: fleshing this out more could be incredible or too much of a stretch. This short is enough to sink your teeth into, yet not so much that you overindulge and feel sick afterward.
Added the book to my wish list based on this charming excerpt. Short and sweet, and I laughed out loud.
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