First, Michael C. Hall did an excellent job on the narration, lending a personality and voice to each character. You always know when the narrator does a great job when you lose track of him in the characters; that is, you forget that this guy speaking is the guy on that Dexter TV show. You don't remember the narrator until the audio is near finished. I wish I could give more than 5 stars. This narration job is up there with Will Patton's best work and at times is even better.
As for the Book,
I'd always seen the commercial highlights/trailer for the movie version of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the phrase is even iconic of that era and place. Yet, I'd never seen the movie or read the book--until now. I didn't know what to expect besides basically the description on the audible version of the book - the basic storyline. So I know if I say too much here in the review of the couple of twists and the ending, I'll be spoiling the enjoyment of this audio for another listener.
With that in mind, Truman Capote's masterful short novel displays this young lady's complexities of character underlying the shallow facade. Some can rise above the admixture of nature and nurture and dream so much they will follow it to the ends of the earth. Holly Golightly was a dreamer extraordinaire or as Capote put it, a "lopsided romantic" whose trait of personality would never change.
A poignant line which I think captures a major theme of the novel is Holly's observation that:
"it's better to look at the sky than live there; such an empty place, so vague, just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear."
I've read somewhere that Capote ran in the same circles as Marilyn Monroe and parts of Holly Golightly are loosely based on Norma Jean's personality and her early years. I don't know if that's true, but it sounds right, based on what I know.
I must add my thoughts that an outcast sissy-boy from Monroeville, Alabama at the time (and even today) was likely extremely sensitive and keenly observant of his environment in the Big Apple and the fact that he was also a gay man from down South up in the big city probably served to further enhance his remarkable attention to details in that society at that time. The difficulties he endured in those years likely integrated into his makeup as an artist who could and would so vividly paint the outsider trying to fit in with the clouds, "an empty place," as it turns out, "where the thunder goes and things disappear."
I wish someone would answer the question arising every time I hear the author destroying all his/her excellent written work by narrating it: Is the author a narcissist or that strained financially to do something so self-destructive? Ronson, so talented as a writer, is terrible as a narrator with that SUPERSOFT sleep-inducing voice.
This is my first time...
To compliment the narrator first. She made the Girl protagonist, Jess/Deanna, come to life, leap out of the speakers live before my internal dilated pupils, dry mouth and accelerating heartbeat.
While certain aspects of this book appear to border on fantasy, and I would have liked to explore further the Girl's character, this book was fun, a frisky tryst from some of the heavier lit on the market, as suspenseful as today's typical fare in the genre and certainly MUCH more arousing.
Ms. Torre changed the derivation of her name to A.R. from Alessandra for this book, ostensibly so it would not be viewed as purely in the erotica genre (like her last several novels). This is not erotica, though I am guessing it has a number of the same elements. A.R. Torre has a bright future if she can continue the hard task of blending erotica into suspense. She undeniably has the special combination of writing talent, creativity and pure heat to deliver a blockbuster as good as or maybe better than Gillian Flynn's. She's well on her way.
This book is all over the place and the characters boring, thus I couldn't care less about the answer to the mysteries (case histories), now nearly 2/3 of the way through the book.
Like Waffle House hashbrowns, an appropriate way to describe this book is:
CHUNKED, DICED, SMOTHERED, PEPPERED, COVERED
This book was okay, but it felt to me very much like a short story stretched into a novel. It just didn't work for me. That doesn't mean it won't work for you.
You have to hang with this for about 9 hours before things start rushing at a rapid pace. During the first 9, I almost gave up numerous times because it seems so scattered and disconnected with no plot. But, you should trust the author. It is all related and set-up for the show: the race to try to prevent a realistic terrorist threat to spread vaccine-busting small pox in the USA.
This is an excellent starter novel, a creative PI/picaresque story; cool, clever and sexy. I'm pleased to have happened upon this series. I have already bought the 2d, THE TRAIL TO BUDDHA'S MIRROR; and am hopeful it doesn't lose the rhythm like some other series I've dropped after reading the second.
In the 2d half of my 40s, I've been on a kick to read as many prized literary novels as I can. I've been particularly interested in reading such novels set in the South. This novel, set in Tennessee, won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for Literature. It has caused me to question whether I should do a cost-benefit analysis before reading certain prized novels.
In my literary endeavor, many times I've enjoyed what I've read and some novels have required hard work and a second reading to appreciate (e.g., The Sound and the Fury). And, then there have been a couple like A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, that made me wonder why I should force myself to experience a story of an event and aftermath so painful to endure in reality, a story that nearly all of us suffer through at least a few times in our life if we are lucky enough to make it to middle age. This novel, as you can tell from the title, is a story of a rural family dealing with the death of the father and husband and brother and son to the respective surviving family members.
I have had a hard enough time surviving the painful ordeal of the death of an immediate family member. While I can appreciate the literary quality of this novel, I've come to the conclusion that life is just too short and my reading time too limited to spend hours and hours of my time vicariously living through such intimate agony and sadness at and as the story's very center.
Like the Ice Cream Man (stop me when I'm passing by), all Stephen King's suspense novels are guaranteed to satisfy. I was given an advance copy of this Saturday and finished it Monday.
King stirs up a super-odd trio:
a mentally disabled, milquetoast mid-40s lady who still lives with her moma;
a rather boring, recently-retired, suicidal and alcoholic police detective in his mid-60s who failed to solve that last big case; and,
a 6'5" squeaky-clean, high school African-American kid.
As the story develops, they come together to rush against time to try saving the lives of 4,000 screaming teeny-boppers at a "Round Here" [see, One Direction] concert from the psychotic bomb plot of an Oedipal Ice Cream Man. The kid's mom and sister are in the crowd, adding to the tension.
Undeniably, King is still on his game, even without the supernatural to aid his story. The twists in the plot keep coming to build toward a concerto crescendo. This isn't a "character-driven" plodder that'll be taught in lit classes 100 years from now. With the King, the story rules and the characters are given enough that you care what happens.
King is and has been the master of creating the verisimilitude of evil in many forms in the genres of suspense, thriller and horror novels. This fits the first, but this is quite the mastery King has achieved in thriller and horror novels. While the antagonist here is quite creepy, King has painted much darker villains. This psycho isn't evil incarnate; his evil has a cause (probably not THE only cause) and, without revealing too much, it has something to do with an Oedipal aspect to the story, of which the details are so revolting that the reader-results should range from "rendered nauseous" to "released vomitus."
This is more of a modern-day suspense novel, which are churned out these days like rows of wind turbines, by much lesser talents and by some who have mastered the modern-day suspense more than has Stephen King. It's not Mr. King's strongest suit. While the bomb plot at a teeny-bopper concert hits REALLY close to home and the internet and car break-in aspects of the story were interesting, I had a difficult time suspending disbelief over the combination of the protagonist detective and his peculiar sidekicks.
This is a perfect beach read though: a rapid-paced suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until the end.
Actor Will Patton has become the go-to guy for blockbusters because of his super acting talent in the *performance of narration.* He is clear, crisp, low-key until the story calls for him to turn it up; he never overdoes a character and, with him, after a while of listening you just get lost in the story and forget about the narrator. To me, that is the ultimate ability for an audible narrator; isn't that why so many of us love Tom Hanks? You forget it's Tom Hanks after watching for a while and get lost in the movie. Same thing here.
In the genre, I give Mr. Mercedes 4 stars. It does not stand out as a 5 when compared to some of the supremely talented novelists who have mastered the art of suspense in a modern-day, non-supernatural setting. 5 stars for Will Patton.
“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you”
Perhaps this book is so funny is because it's comic relief from the absurdities and horrors of death and war.
I really liked this book, but it's much akin to a rich dessert, to be read in moderation. It becomes clownish or buffoonish at times. But, it's the only true novel in the reading of which I often laughed out loud.
I mean, the book starts out with the primary character in a hospital assigned to censor letters home from patients, inventing games like "death to all modifiers" and out came all adjectives and adverbs on every letter.
If you haven't read this, it's a nice departure from the serious and sad of many so-called classics.
Jay Sanders does an excellent job. Though, I will warn you, you may become annoyed at the SHOUTING that unexpectedly leaps from the audio from time to time, scaring the heck out of you or someone else nearby.
Maybe others in the self-help guru "industry" have said similar things but NONE has come close to saying it with the authority and credibility of Dr. Viktor Frankl given what he endured and who he became and what he has meant, and continues to mean, to so many.
My 2 favorite quotes from this book:
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances...."
"Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'"
This book is not some deep philosophical rambling on the meaning of life. It's about a person's search for meaning, or more particularly about the search of Dr. Viktor Frankl, an eminent psychiatrist with a mountain of personal experience in coping with adversity, and how it can make a difference in the practical ways you view your life and handle your trials and tribulations.
Dr. Frankl was imprisoned in 4 Nazi death camps, including the infamous Auschwitz, between 1942 and 1945. He survived, while his pregnant wife, parents and brother all died. He differed with Freud who thought our primary drive in life is pleasure, in arguing that we are driven to pursue and find something meaningful in our lives. So, while we cannot, obviously, avoid suffering, Dr. Frankl says, we can choose how to cope with the hurt, find meaning in our suffering and move on with a sense of renewed purpose.
A wonderful, practical and highly recommended book.
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