Smithson Ide is, at 43, obese, alcoholic, lonely, emotionally wounded and stuck in a monotonous job. This is the story of how he got that way, and his unlikely healing through an impromptu cross-country bike trip. "Smithy" narrates the the events precipitated by the deaths of his parents and his deeply disturbed sister, and interjects extensive flashbacks of his childhood and early adulthood.
The book is rich with cultural history, social satire, drama, tragedy, adventure, and geography. I found it hard to turn off once I started listening. I would rate this a five, but for two shortcomings: the constant switching between the main narrative and flashback, often at suspenseful points in Smithy's trip, can get a bit annoying; and Smithy's passivity concerning the safety of his person and property during his trip strains credibility. However, I would still heartily recommend it for those who enjoy books about people healing and growing, like Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News" and "That Old Ace in the Hole" or Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone".
This audiobook is full of vivid scenes, witty satire, outrageous escapades, and surprising twists and turns. I found myself really rooting for Andrea, the assistant, as she learned to cope with her wicked boss Miranda and figured out what was important to her. This is a fairly long listen, and some parts seemed a bit overly detailed. However, the story really picks up momentum in the second half, and the denouement is quite exciting and somewhat moving.
While the main thrust of the book is undoubtedly entertainment, I found some substance in Andrea's changing relationship with her job situation and the people closest to her, and the balance that many of us must strike between career, relationships, and personal aspirations.
Overall, I recommend this book heartily to anyone looking for an entertaining read with a protagonist that's easy to identify with.
This is a well-written, gripping story, portions of which are shockingly violent or somewhat implausible. The narration, with its many twists and turns, is very skillful. The reader really gets to know the protagonist, Charles Shein. The novel also gives a very plausible picture of the agonies experienced by a successful, refined family man descending into a world of deception and criminality.
However, the empathy with Charles and his family that the story enables makes its violence very disturbing. Also, certain aspects of Charles' quest to rebuild his life and eliminate his persistent tormentor do not withstand scrutiny. The most troubling of these is Charles' loyalty to his ex-lover when his own family is threatened, even as he regrets the affair.
If you like a well-written, suspenseful New York novel, but don't mind and violence and occasional implausibility, then this selection may be for you.
Preposterous at times, but lots of fun. No great message here, just a lot of intrigue and glamour. At times I felt sorry for the main character, at other times I found myself admiring her evil genius. Mira Sorvino does a great job reading, with credible impersonations of a variety of characters, both male and female. If you are looking for something light and entertaining, look no further.
This is a memorable listen. It is the story of a law enforcement officer who goes undercover to thwart a powerful and dangerous crime organization. The reading is very good, the book's narration is fast-paced, and the descriptions of people and scenes (especially Italian restaurants!) are vivid.
This audiobook consists of two parts. The first is of New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist Thomas Friedman reading a series of his own columns. In the second part, Friedman reads his own personal diary, which covers the travels, personal reflection, interviews, and discussions that Friedman used to further his personal understanding and write these columns.
As a longtime reader of Friedman's columns, it was exciting for me to hear the passionate and articulate voice behind the writing, and to understand how the author develops his ideas. I gained an understanding of the mechanics of repression, religious fundamentalism, and violence in today's world, and was impressed by Friedman's ideas on the way forward.
I also gained a clearer sense of what it means to be a modern American patriot. Friedman's patriotism incorporates a deep respect for ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity; a broad compassion for the world's peoples and their struggles; and an enhanced appreciation of the power of individual and collective enterprise.
This book is typical of Annie Proulx's work. It develops compelling characters and situations with great care and detail while educating the reader about the real-life environmental, social, and cultural settings in which the fictional story takes place. There is certainly a hard edge to the author's writing: many of the situations described are downright depressing. However, the protagonist's persistence through difficult circumstances, grace under pressure, and concern for others are also vividly portrayed. I learned a great deal about the history and geography of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and found the book to be compelling and inspiring.
This is one of the best abridged audiobooks I have listened to. Not only is the story outstanding, but the reader uses his considerable acting skills to portray the colorful voices of many of the characters. I find myself wanting to purchase the book now, in order to linger over some of the passages, learn the spellings of some of the names, and read what was omitted in the abridgement.
The writing is clear, the reading is good, the logic is unassailable, and some of the examples are very interesting. However, I felt that the book spent excessive time explaining
some conclusions that seemed very intuitive to me. I found the listening a bit tedious at times, perhaps because I have spent the last twelve years working for a large corporation that has implemented a significant number of the book's recommendations for fostering and exploiting the wisdom of crowds.
I read and enjoyed Plainsong, the first book in this series. I found the audibook sequel even more engaging, partially because of the excellent reading. As another reviewer has stated, I really cared about the characters. The author is an astute observer of human nature, a talented painter of word-pictures, and an excellent storyteller.
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