LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States | Member Since 2007
Like quick sand, every chapter creates a mystery that pulls the listener deeper into the story.
Why is Owen Meany???s voice so high pitched and single noted? Who is the ???lady in red???? Who is Owen Meany???s illegitimate friend???s father? Why do the main characters keep practicing ???the shot???? What is Owen Meany???s recurring dream? Right foot, left foot, body, and brain; soon you are consumed by Irving's mysteries.
Joe Barrett???s spoken presentation is terrific because it enhances the written meaning of the story. James Atlas precedes the narration with an interview of John Irving, the author. The Atlas??? interview sets the table for what you are about to hear.
Irving writes a story about growing up in Anywhere, America where the pious are weak, the rich are intimidating and the children are indulged. It is an age like today with ministers preaching and not believing, parents teaching right and doing wrong, and children maturing physically and wasting mentally. Owen Meany is an exception, as this story tells the listener.
Owen Meany is modeled like the little man in The Tin Drum, a book about a dwarf like German citizen observing the beginning, progress, and ending of the WWII German tragedy. Owen Meany is a stunted American citizen living at the beginning of an evolving Vietnam American tragedy.
The subject of Vietnam is generally understood as an American disaster. It earned its American anti war rebellion. Irving???s story crystallizes the anxiety and frustration of that time. He offers an answer to what we can do when we become anxious and frustrated about things that seem beyond our control. It is not an easy path but redemption for atrocity begins with people of faith who see reality, have an inner morale compass, and act with a relentless commitment to stop senseless acts of war.
The language of Quantum Theory is as fluid and changeable as gas in an infinite vacuum. Humankind sees the world one way and explains with language they know. Quantum Theory is unseen and humankind struggles to explain with language still in process of creation.
“The Quantum Story” is a roller coaster ride for the uninformed; i.e. one is thrilled by the experience but exhausted by the ride.
Horror fiction is not a genre that interests this critic but Stephen King’s “11-22-63…” and the unforgettable event of John F. Kennedy’s assassination breaks a prejudice laden misapprehension of King’s writing. King is so much more than a writer of fictional horror like “Cujo”, “Carrie”, and “The Shining”.
Mid-twentieth century human nature, its evil, its good; and big and small town’ smells, tastes, crimes, and passions are revealed in King’s book. The eerie quality of cities, neighborhoods, industries, and buildings are described with leaden details that set the stage for a time traveling adventure that begins in a diner and ends near a red brick building in Dallas, Texas.
If one ever considers listening to an audiobook, “11-22-63…” is as good as it gets for a great story; written by an excellent writer; told by a master narrator. (Craig Wasson’s voice evokes emotions that many will miss if King’s spectacular and imaginative story is only read.)
Ron Chernow is a respected biographer. He has written biographies of J.P. Morgan, The Warburgs, John D. Rockefeller, Alexander Hamilton, and now ???Washington: A Life???, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.
Chernow provides fascinating glimpses of George Washington, the surveyor, the slave holder, the Virginia Scion, the first President of the United States. Information about America???s great revolution is worth a near 42 hour listen. Like Schiff???s biography of ???Cleopatra???, a reader/listener does learn a great deal about documented facts of a great historical figure. But Washington, like Cleopatra to this reviewer, remains a mystery.
???Wind in the Willows??? charms its audience with animal characters that live near a river, probably the Thames, in London, England. Rat is the brains; Badger is the brawn; Mole is the anti-hero, and Toad is the fool; the fool that learns an important life lesson. ???You are a Toad??? is not what one wants to be called; Kenneth Grahame???s 1908 anthropomorphized animal tale tells why.
???Water for Elephants??? is a story about the circus, being in love, and hard times. The narration is done with two voices for the main character, at ages 93 and 23. LeDoux??? and Jones??? and their distinctive phrasing make Sara Gruen???s hero unforgettable.
Life happens; a 23 year old Jankowski is about to graduate from Veterinary school when his parents die in a car crash. In the 1929 crash of the car and the American economy, Jankowski???s life shatters. He is mentally broken; unable to take his final Veterinary exam. He has no money; his family is gone; he hops a train to anywhere. And the story progresses at the speed of life and memory.
Lolita burns in your mind like Native Son, with a kindred repulsiveness. Lolita sears your conscience because it speaks like an apology for pedophilia. Jeremy Irons??? spoken interpretation of Lolita is breath taking. His voice captures the licentious nature of the main character, Humbert Humbert. He reads Nabokov???s lines with a beautiful alliteration that reveals the poetry in Nabokov???s prose. The subject is inherently repulsive. The rationalizations of a confessed pedophile, that admits his guilt, is difficult, if not impossible, to understand. So, what is the point of the book? The best face is that Nabokov reveals the depth of a pedophile???s sickness, some of its causes and consequences, and the utter futility of psychological examination; the worst face is that Nabokov justifies pedophilia based on human nature. For my own conscience, and for respect to a literary genius, I pick the first rather than the second reason for his decision to write this book.
Big and small influences on southern race relations are concretely revealed in Stockett???s book. She shows the influence that black nanny???s had with children of white families by telling the story of A-B???s (Abileen, a black nanny) relationship with Mae Mobley (a pre-school child of a middle class white family). A-B makes up stories to tell Mae Mobley, like the story of ???Martian Luther King???, to explain there is no difference between white and black people, except for the color of their skin.
Stockett may dwell a little too much on the inequity of white and black existence in the south of the 1960s but her book is not a vilification of Mississippi but a reflection of how trapped human beings become by the influence of their neighbors and by the economic condition of their lives.
Stein???s book is a writer???s road map. Writers see the highways and streets of writing a good story. Stein???s map reveals where a story begins, which roads to follow, and where a story ends. He explains how to write actionably. Do not write ???he was upset???, write, ???He threw an ash tray through the living room window, sprinkling shards of glass across a brown patch of grass???. The first line is vague. It is telling the reader that the character is upset. The second line shows action. It makes the reader decide on the character???s mood. A good writer is emoting readers to feel character emotion. He does not tell the reader what to think. On Stein???s map, this is the beginning of good story telling.
Stein offers more and says it better.
This is a book for the reference shelf; to be read; to be listened to; again and again.
This is a fascinating piece of work by Brian Hall that is magnifcently narrated by Dick Hill.
I knew little of Robert Frost before listening to "Fall of Frost".
This is a magnificent audio presentation of a beautifully written story about a great American poet.
"Fall of Frost" reports some facts of a poet's life but Brian Hall's writing reveals universal consequences and feelings of any life that is lived.
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