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.
I loved Martin Amis's "Money," but I've been disappointed by his other works because they fell short of it. For my money, "The Zone of Interest" puts Amis back on top. It spins a heartbreaking story of a Nazi extermination camp through the eyes of three denizens: 1) a young, cynical, Nazi aristocrat; 2) a pathetic Jew who was forced to act as an overseer; and 3) the camp's savage and sociopathic commander. Throughout, Amis uses his sophisticated, lapidary, English style. To make things even better, Sean Barrett does spot-on characterizations . His character portrayals are so distinct you could skip to any part of the book and immediately recognize who is talking. My prediction is this novel will withstand the test of time. Money well spent!
Obviously this is one of the great modern novels. However, this narrator speed reads like the guy who used to do the FedEx commercials. Stick with the Donal Donnelly reading.
It's a rare treat to have the great Alan Rickman read an audiobook. (It's not like he needs the money.) He is perfect for this novel since he narrated the movie in the 80s. Hopefully he'll read other classic works.
I gave this audiobook 5 stars even though it's not perfect. Here's why.
Obviously audiobook is not the perfect format for a wonky macroeconomic tome with lots of graphs and numbers. Even though it comes with pdf files for the charts, that's not much help when you're listening in the car. But the glass of water half full is that I wouldn't have had the time to read this book, so listening is better than nothing. And this book has great merit.
We've all read the criticism of the author's predictions and extrapolations. That was predictable because of the reflexive reaction by conservatives, and also the carping economists who would never dream of having a best seller on their hands, thus turning into to haters.
Even if you ignore the author's prediction that US wealth is and will continue to become more concentrated in the clutches of the one-percenters, this book is valuable for its fascinating explanation of the history of wealth stratification. That alone taught me a great deal and helps explain where any why the world economy is. In brief, wealth has always tended to rise to the top. It was only because of the "economic shocks" of the two World Wars that the American and European middle classes got a temporary bigger piece of the pie. Add to this the fact that emerging economies are merely catching up to us explains why Americans have anxiety about not being so far ahead of the rest of the world.
This book is a great history lesson. Don't prejudge it just because, in the end, the author makes some value judgments. Learning is great fun. At least I think so.
I've listened to various recordings of this great book. This is the best. Well worth the time and money.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Steven Weber reads with great intensity. He carves out each character with laser-like precision. Highly recommended.
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