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Lawrence

Monroeville, PA, United States | Member Since 2009

274
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 17 reviews
  • 36 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 27 purchased in 2014
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16

  • Freedom: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jonathan Franzen
    • Narrated By David LeDoux
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3325)
    Performance
    (1056)
    Story
    (1059)

    Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world.

    Lawrence says: "Believe the Hype"
    "Believe the Hype"
    Overall

    With so much maudlin advance-hype of the printed novel, I looked for reasons to criticize this audiobook. Alas, it lived up to, and in my opinion, exceeded expectations.

    David LeDoux does a masterful job in performing the many voices in Freedom. I’ve watched several YouTube interviews of Fanzen. LeDoux’s voice and presentation are similar. He captures Franzen’s manner of speaking which is consistent with the tone and themes of this book. Whether this was intended by the producers is an open question since the narrator of the audiobook The Corrections had a smoky, older voice (though he did a good job).

    Fanzen has been criticized for his sarcastic and cynical interviews, but to me he is entertaining, sincere, and very, very smart. Many great authors such as Joyce, Hemmingway, and Fitzgerald had big egos. They took their writing seriously and expected the same from their readers. This is not a bad thing.

    I have listened to a little over 300 unabridged audiobooks, many of them recordings of classics such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Joyce, etc. I don’t give inflated reviews. Offhand, the only performance that meets or exceeds LeDoux’s performance is Jeremy Iron’s reading of Lolita. This audiobook is worth the time and money, and then some. It’s that good.

    154 of 167 people found this review helpful
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Elijah Wood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2145)
    Performance
    (1645)
    Story
    (1626)

    A Signature Performance: Elijah Wood becomes the first narrator to bring a youthful voice and energy to the story, perhaps making it the closest interpretation to Twain’s original intent.

    James says: "Worthy "signature" premiere"
    "Excellent performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've listened to various recordings of this great book. This is the best. Well worth the time and money.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News - and Divided a Country

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Gabriel Sherman
    • Narrated By Erik Singer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (63)
    Performance
    (57)
    Story
    (56)

    When Rupert Murdoch enlisted Roger Ailes to launch a cable news network in 1996, American politics and media changed forever. Now, with a remarkable level of detail and insight, New York magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman brings Ailes’s unique genius to life, along with the outsize personalities - Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Sarah Palin, Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee, and others - who have helped Fox News play a defining role in the great social and political controversies of the past two decades.

    Lawrence says: "A Monumental Achievement"
    "A Monumental Achievement"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Whether you're a righty or lefty, this book puts together the puzzle pieces of how American politics has become so polarized over the last 20 years. It will not cause anyone to switch political parties, but it will explain how we got from point A to point B.

    Roger Ailes is a media genius. He was the first to figure out that Americans vote based on how they feel rather than how they think, and that TV was the best way to communicate emotion.

    Ailes was never a news person ("newsie" as they are called in the TV industry). Aisles will probably be the first to admit that. He is impervious to being shamed by fact-checking because that's not his game. Making money and persuading people to his conservative politics are his goals. His ends justify his means. Any means.

    The author traces Ailes's humble beginnings from Warren Ohio to the NYC media vortex. As Ailes ages, he becomes increasingly paranoid and retaliatory. The last part of the book which deals with Ailes's war with his small NY hometown newspaper and local politicians is a microcosm of his life. It's unintentionally hilarious with an almost post-modern feel. They should teach this chapter in journalism school. It reminded me of The World According to Garp, except that it really happened.

    The predictable, preemptive push-back by Ailes and his supporters is vintage Aisles. Rather than undermine the book's validity, ironically it serves as corroboration because it's so Aisle-ian.

    Much of the book's criticism centers on Ailes not being interviewed. But the book's last chapter explains that the author quoted 614 live sources close to Ailes, most of whom were corroborated by other sources. The author asked Ailes a dozen times to be interviewed. Ailes tried hard to block this book, so why should he add to its credibility by consenting to being interviewed? This is also classic Ailes.

    Regardless of your politics, you need to read or listen to this book to fully understand the most important American politician since Reagan. I seldom re-read or re-listen to a book, but I'm doing that now.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Angle of Repose

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Wallace Stegner
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (411)
    Performance
    (278)
    Story
    (275)

    Wallace Stegner's uniquely American classic centers on Lyman Ward, a noted historian who relates a fictionalized biography of his pioneer grandparents at a time when he has become estranged from his own family. Through a combination of research, memory, and exaggeration, Ward voices ideas concerning the relationship between history and the present, art and life, parents and children, and husbands and wives.

    Laurene says: "A magnificent novel, beautifully read"
    "Excellent narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Much has been written about this wonderful classic so I'll only say that the narration is excellent. Each character has a distinctive voice so you never get confused. Well worth the money.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Devils

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (17)

    Exiled to four years in Siberia, but hailed by the end of his life as a saint, prophet, and genius, Fyodor Dostoevsky holds an exalted place among the best of the great Russian authors. One of Dostoevsky’s five major novels, Devils follows the travails of a small provincial town beset by a band of modish radicals - and in so doing presents a devastating depiction of life and politics in late 19th-century Imperial Russia.

    Darwin8u says: "I loved the Devil(s) out of the Possessed"
    "Excellent translation and narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Devils" (formerly translated as "The Possessed," and sometimes translated as "Demons") is one of Dostoevsky's four great long novels, the others being "Crime and Punishment," "The Idiot," and "The Brothers Karamazov."

    First, don't by the version narrated by Patrick Cullen and titled "The Possessed." The narration is poor and the translation is the outdated one by Constance Garnett.

    "Devils" is a very political novel and was intended to be so. In order to appreciate it, you should do a little research on the 1869 murder by the Russian revolutionary Nechayev. One of the two lead characters, Peter Stephanovich Verkhovensky, a creepy Charles Manson type, is based on Nechayev. The Wikipedia article on "Demons" is short and informative. It also helps to know a little about Dostoevsky's background because several elements are autobiographical. Last, you might want to print a list of characters because, like all Russian novels, the many patronymic names can be confusing, especially if you're listening. If you do these things you'll experience the full effect.

    The plot centers on some brutal, political murders. The setting is the run-up to the Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin and company didn't come out of nowhere. Trouble had been brewing in Russia for some time. "Devils" places events in context. Like all of Dostoevsky's works, the plot is deeply psychological, though there is quite a bit of dry humor and irony (items that are often missed in Dostoevsky's works because the original translator, Constance Garnett, tended to homogenize his phrases). If you're into this thing, "Devils" is a gripping novel.

    The narrator is the very accomplished George Guidall. I've listened to many of his readings, such as his outstanding performances in "Crime and Punishment" and "Don Quixote." George is perfect for "Demons." His sharp characterizations, timing, and overall feel are perfect. He has a Slavic background and takes great pride in reading the Russian greats.

    Last, I can't say enough good things about this 1992 translation by Russian Studies Professor Michael R. Katz of Middlebury College. Professor Katz reinserts Dostoevsky's intentionally quirky sentence structure which was sadly washed out by earlier translators. I've read that some critics think Doestoevsky wasn't a great stylist as was Tolstoy and others. In my opinion, that's only because early translators failed to pick up his nuances. Dostoevsky was a very careful writer. Many of his supposedly awkward sentences, when carefully translated, reveal great wit and style. I compared Professor Katz's translation to others, such as the acclaimed translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, and feel that Professor Katz's is the best going.

    "Devils" is a great listen if you're willing to put in the time and effort.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Love in the Time of Cholera

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gabriel García Márquez
    • Narrated By Armando Durán
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (201)
    Story
    (207)

    From the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude comes a masterly evocation of an unrequited passion so strong that it binds two people's lives together for more than half a century. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs - yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral....

    Darryl says: "Marquez is great, awaiting 100 Years"
    "Great story, needs better audiobook producer."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Over the years, I've listened to over 350 unabridged, classic audiobooks. For some time I've waited for audiobooks by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of my favorite authors. I see that Audible is finally releasing several over the next few months, this being the first. Listening to this audiobook reaffirmed my appreciation of Marquez's greatness. Though the narrator's tone, diction, and pronunciation is excellent, and his casting is perfect, sadly he employed a singsong pattern of starting sentences with a higher pitch and then trailing off as he finished. If he had done this a couple of times it wouldn't have been that bad. But to do it for 16 hours became annoying. I do not blame him one jot. He is very talented and I've listened to him on other audiobooks in which he did not do this. I blame Audible 100%. If the producer (if there was one) had simply told the narrator one time, "Your voice pattern is a little singsong. Listen to this example," I'm sure the problem would have been immediately corrected. To waste this great novel and the talents of a very good narrator is unexcusable. Even still, the story itself is so great that I highly recommend you give it a listen. It's well worth the money. It's just a shame that I had to rate this audiobook anything less than 5 stars. Thanks.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • It

    • UNABRIDGED (44 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Stephen King
    • Narrated By Steven Weber
    Overall
    (3983)
    Performance
    (2731)
    Story
    (2744)

    They were just kids when they stumbled upon the horror of their hometown. Now, as adults, none of them can withstand the force that has drawn them all back to Derry, Maine, to face the nightmare without end, and the evil without a name.

    Parola138 says: "I thought I was desensitized"
    "top shelf narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Steven Weber reads with great intensity. He carves out each character with laser-like precision. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tom Jones: The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

    • UNABRIDGED (37 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Henry Fielding
    • Narrated By Bill Homewood
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Tom Jones, a foundling, is brought up by the kindly Mr. Allworthy as if he were his own son. Forced to leave the house as a young man after tales of his disgraceful behavior reach his benefactor's ears, he sets out in utter despair, not only because of his banishment but because he has now lost all hope of gaining the hand of the beautiful Sophia. But she too is forced to flee her parental home to escape an undesirable marriage and their stories and adventures intertwine.

    Lawrence says: "Fantastic narration"
    "Fantastic narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Kudos to the narrator. Each character is carved out with diamond precision. Great story. Great narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Marriage Plot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1616)
    Performance
    (1338)
    Story
    (1326)

    It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

    FanB14 says: "Esoteric, Vapid, Trite"
    "Pride and Prejudice, updated"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having enjoyed listening to audiobooks of Jeffrey Eugenides’ first two novels, "The Virgin Suicide" and "Middlesex," I looked forward to this one.

    What exactly is a “marriage plot”? We encounter it frequently in novels and films. Wikipedia defines it as follows: “Marriage plot is a term used, often in academic circles, to categorize a storyline that recurs in novels most prominently and in films most recently. Until the expansion of marriage rights to same-sex couples, this plot centered exclusively on the courtship rituals between a man and a woman and the obstacles that faced the potential couple on its way to the nuptial payoff. The marriage plot became a popular source of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries with the rise of the bourgeois novel. The foremost practitioners of the form include some of the more illustrious names in English letters, among them Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, George Eliot and the Brontë sisters.”

    As I listened to the travails of the young, Ivy League, literati in Eugenides version of a modern day marriage plot, I thought no so much of the novels of Jane Austen and Henry James, but of the many times Shakespeare used it in his plays: by my count 23. Eugenedes puts his own spin on the marriage plot and does so in fast paced, clearly written, and enjoyable fashion. If I had one criticism, it is that his third novel does not have the same subtle Kalfkaesque strangeness which the subject matter of his first two novels afforded (suicide in "The Virgin Suicides," and genetic variation in "Middlesex"). It seemed Eugenedes attempted to use the topics of religion (Mitchell ) and mental illness (Leonard) to achieve the same effect, but fell a little short. This might have been from Eugenides' pre-conceived plan to pay homage to earlier novelists rather than create something new and non-derivative. Still, I enjoyed this novel enough to give it the highest marks.

    With regard to the narrator’s performance, I don’t think he could have done a better job. His casting was perfect, and you could always tell which character was speaking.

    56 of 67 people found this review helpful
  • Never Let Me Go

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Kazuo Ishiguro
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1591)
    Performance
    (436)
    Story
    (441)

    From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, comes an unforgettable edge-of-your-seat mystery that is at once heartbreakingly tender and morally courageous about what it means to be human.

    Christopher says: "Moving, haunting, but slow developing"
    "Great listen"
    Overall

    Listened to this one 3 times in a row because I liked it so much. The female reader is a perfect fit. Easily the best book I've listened to this year. Can't recommend it enough.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Doctor Zhivago

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Boris Pasternak, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)
    • Narrated By John Lee
    Overall
    (66)
    Performance
    (52)
    Story
    (50)

    In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its original publication, here is a new translation of the classic story of the life and loves of a poet/physician during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Taking his family from Moscow to what he hopes will be shelter in the Ural Mountains, Zhivago finds himself instead embroiled in the battle between the Whites and the Reds. Set against this backdrop of cruelty and strife is Zhivago’s love for the tender and beautiful Lara.

    Beth says: "Nothing like the movie."
    "decent"
    Overall

    The translator and narrators did a fine job. However, the novel had zero humor and was very preachy. I listened to this book because Pasternak won the Nobel Prize and the David Lean movie is a classic. But don't expect Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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