Tallahassee, FL United States | Member Since 2009
I found this book too long and lacking a clear resolution. I noticed that the publisher's review said it was a retelling of an ancient story and although it had an epic journey, it seemed more like a Grimm's Fairy Tale to me, complete with a boney and wizened hag who can foretell the future, evil step father (a.k.a. Uncle) and magical beasts, not to mention ghosts.
I felt betrayed by an unsympathetic central character. I never understood her motivation even at the end. There was little about this book that seemed real and I felt the author was making fun of the reader... sort of like the last episode of Seinfeld. Perhaps that was the point.
Not familiar with Karen Joy Fowler, I found the beginning to be unimpressive. There was something off about the central character and I couldn’t figure out what. It seemed unrealistic. Then when the narrator begins telling the missing parts from her early life I realized that the beginning was a brilliant portrait.
The narrator of the book, Rosemarie, starts her book with the middle of her tale, then braids back and forth, threading episodes in her earlier years and later years. She explains each shift to the reader in a chatty conversational tone.
In a way the structure echoes the complexity of the story. It is both beautifully crafted and provocative. This is a story that is not about an ordinary family, yet it is about commonality.
After her mother's death, Emma went back to South Africa where her mother grew up in search of connecting pieces of information about her mother's family. Her mother had corresponded with most of her siblings over the years and told Emma sparse bits of information about her past -- often hinting that there was much more to the story.
South African landscape, climate and culture was fascinating. Conversations with aunts, uncles and cousins revealed their individual approaches to survival in a family that reflected the country, hostile and beautiful. The days spent in research or on a drunk with family she had not previously met was less intriguing to me.
Although this collection of speeches is very repetitious, there are some real gems here. Nice freebie from Audible. Thanks.
At first I was troubled by the time-machine quality that pulls the central character back several generations, then it seem to me a brilliant way of looking at history as seen through the lens of modern day values and attitudes.
Finally, I began to also see the underlying metaphor of protecting the ancestors who she would have preferred to distance herself from, even if it cost her an arm, and propelling herself back to the present by the need to save her own life.
It seemed to take me forever to read this audiobook because I kept re-reading what I had just heard. The honesty and respect for individuality is unique. Although the book is dense with research and background references, it is as readable as fiction.
At the end of each Chapter, I had to put it down to reflect on what I had just read. This book is as much about adult children and identity as it is about parenting.
I began telling friends, "You must read this book" by the end of the first section and my enthusiasm increased the more I read. I learned something even in the sections where I felt some familiarity with the subject.
Sections I considered skipping because they seemed irrelevant to me turned out to be the most thought provoking.
The people Solomon interviewed offer such a wide range of personal opinions; it was clear that Solomon can balance widely different conclusions and have them all be true.
From the author who has written many other books on the brain, this book is about how pre-lingual deafness differs from those who learned a spoken language before they lost their ability to hear. The connections of language to thought, the mis-assumptions of hearing people and the impact of using sign language has on the brain are wrapped together in a free-flowing, almost stream of consciousness. There were some bits that were technical enough so that I would like to re-read them. Most, however, was very understandable by the amateur.
Brutal and savage story told almost entirely in the present tense. I found it both repelling and compelling. In my opinion it had little to do with Katrina (the hurricane) and more to do about surviving in a savage land. Most of the descriptive writing is eloquent, but at times it could have used better editing. Now I'm looking for something that does not use the word detritus once.
The editors??? long and tedious explanation of the autobiographical material takes up most of the first part of this three-part audiobook. I believe that Mark Twain would have had a good laugh at the pomposity of the editors and their footnotes; unfortunately I found it insufferably boring and a very poor use of audio. If I had been reading a print version I would have skimmed or skipped this beginning all together.
I wanted to read Twain???s writing not what all those other folks think I should get out of reading it. A very brief "We got this stuff from lots of different places and times and some of it's literal and some of it isn't. Enjoy," would have been fine with me. Twain does an excellent job of explaining himself.
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