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Teach art history at a local college.

Boca Raton, FL, United States


  • Telegraph Avenue: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Michael Chabon
    • Narrated By Clarke Peters
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there - longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed, between them, more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart - half tavern, half temple - stands Brokeland Records.

    Darwin8u says: "26,784 sq in (and 4.5 miles) surrounded by REALITY"
    "Another Very-Well-Written Book by Mr. Chabon"
    What did you love best about Telegraph Avenue?

    The use of language in "Telegraph Avenue" is so rich and seductive that I really didn't want the book to end. Listening to the reader was pure joy. The language conveyed not only the bones of the story, but also varied according to each personality. In addition, the language revealed the ages of the protagonists by being apropos to each person.Mr. Chabon must have done a mountain of research or be an aficionado of vinyl himself. He reveals an encyclopedic familiarity both with jazz of the fifties to the seventies, but also of contemporary music. Listening to stories is one of my all-time favorite activities. The excellent reader sustained the voices of the four pairs of protagonists.

    What other book might you compare Telegraph Avenue to and why?

    There are passages that reminded me of Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu," in the minutia of details about the music; of Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" in its panoply of characters and of Joyce's "Ulysses" in the sweep of time.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    This question--"what scene was your favorite" is like asking whether you prefer dark chocolate with or without nuts--because there were so many indelible moments. Here are two: the executor's daughter cleaning out Cochise Jones' apartment and releases his parrot, or the undertaker's nephews chatter while "tailing" Titus and Julie.

    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A tag line for a film might be "The Karma of Vinyl."

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Alice Hoffman
    • Narrated By Judith Light, Grace Gummer, Zach Appelman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that amazes and stimulates the crowds. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's "museum", alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a 100-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.

    L. Calder says: "Captivating historical fiction+Hoffman interview!"
    "New York:A New Century, A New City"
    What did you like best about The Museum of Extraordinary Things? What did you like least?

    Weaving in and out of events at the turn of the century, Hoffman describes the immigrant
    experience in believable and vivid details. It's possible to connect the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to the events of 9/11. The young victims who leapt from the windows seem as real as the televised events, and the stories are just as heartbreaking.

    The least enjoyable aspect of this story were the cardboard characters whose back stories we could not fathom: Eddie's father and the so-called professor.

    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    This narrative would be greatly improved with a different reader.

    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Judith Light is a wonderful actress, as evidenced in "Transparent," but she is not the narrator I would have wished for. In places, the dreaminess of her voice reminded me of reading a child's goodnight story; it was almost soporific and I had to remind myself about the tale and it's adult themes.

    When Cora and Eddie were adult, and could speak their own stories, the narrative was engrossing. When Light read those parts, it was distressing because she used the same tone for each.

    Was The Museum of Extraordinary Things worth the listening time?

    I listen to many books. There are those whose narrator makes it impossible to continue, and generally I don't finish them. Hoffman is an excellent writer, and the story line was compelling. So despite the narrator, I continued to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Charles Freeman
    • Narrated By Jim Meskimen

    Long sources of mystery, imagination, and inspiration, the myths and history of the ancient Mediterranean have given rise to artistic, religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions that span the centuries. In this unique and comprehensive introduction to the region's three major civilizations, Egypt, Greece, and Rome draws a fascinating picture of the deep links between the cultures across the Mediterranean and explores the ways in which these civilizations continue to be influential to this day.

    Frank says: "A well done academic intro done in audio"
    "An History of Early Europe:HowWe Became Us"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would only recommend this book to someone who already has a good understanding of the histories of Egypt, Greece and Rome.

    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    The writing of history has always been contentious at best. We all wear our own glasses. I read this as an antidote to Susan Bauer's history, and it seemed a reasonable correction at the beginning. While the author cited the translators he consulted sometimes, that did not seem to be applied with consistency.

    How could the performance have been better?

    I'm an art historian in my mid-60's, and have always continued learning in many ways. I deplore the reader's idiosyncratic and beleagured pronunciation of unfamiliar names and places.I began wincing every time he said "Pliny" or "Galla Placidia".

    Did Egypt, Greece, and Rome inspire you to do anything?

    We read histories for many, varied reasons. The civilizations treated in this history are remote in time and place, and seem on the surface not to matter too much these days. Alexander did not inspire me to go out and conquer the world. But I see his place in that one.

    Any additional comments?

    It would be instructive if your readers had speech coaching before attempting the unfamiliar. The readers you have had from Britain seem way more educated.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Peter the Great: His Life and World

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Robert K. Massie
    • Narrated By Frederick Davidson

    This superbly told story brings to life one of the most remarkable rulers––and men––in all of history and conveys the drama of his life and world. The Russia of Peter's birth was very different from the Russia his energy, genius, and ruthlessness shaped. Crowned co-Tsar as a child of ten, after witnessing bloody uprisings in the streets of Moscow, he would grow up propelled by an unquenchable curiosity, everywhere looking, asking, tinkering, and learning, fired by Western ideas.

    Susan says: "detailed history"
    "Great Historic Story (with exception)"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Since my undergraduate and graduate studies concentrated on Europe and the west, I was excited to learn about Peter the Great, and the making of the Russian state. Generally, I become totally rapt when learning something new. That said, the narrator made this a particularly arduous task.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of Peter the Great?

    Watching a young man on the brink of adulthood become a force to be reckoned with was fascinating.

    He had many

    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    This book, which was long and complicated, was not served by the supercilious and condescending voice of the reader, who stumbled over the names of Russian towns and assumed a weird feminine voice when quoting from letters written at that time.

    Was Peter the Great worth the listening time?

    Although the history is fascinating, I hesitate to recommend this book because the narrator was so hard to listen to.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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