This is superb writing that is considered to be classic of the 'hardboiled' genre (yes, I did a Wikipedia search on the author, so impressed was I by him -- and noticed that Stephen King described him as "a mesmerizing storyteller" -- praise indeed). Travis McGee -- the book is written in the first person -- is a detective with insightful, interesting philosophies of life. The reader meets wonderfully portrayed characters and observes sympathetic emotional relationships. Written in the sixties, the tough worlds Trav moves in are not connected by the communication technologies of today and it felt to me that the the reader has time to appreciate both the narrative and the personalities without the shortcuts of mobile phones, internet and the rest (not I'm not a Luddite!)
Book One, The Cuckoo’s Calling, deftly, convincingly, introduced detective Cormoran Strike and his offsider, Robin (of course). The Silkworm smoothly continues this narrative and with a new ‘case’, though referring to, and building on, the previous one.
This time, the contrast between Robin’s unwavering decency, echoed ponderously by her tedious fiancée, and Cormoran’s life-induced cynicism and capacity for the self sacrificing pursuit of social and legal justice, is further underlined by characters who take these two to the seamy, low life, indecent under-belly of society.
This side of life got to be bit much for me! I’m not a fragile flower: I was just edging on the bored because involving the reader in vile humans can edge towards the gratuitous – and Galbraith was coming pretty close to that line, much closer, I suggest, than in Book One.
But nothing would deter me from following the lives of these two detectives, who were more interesting.
The book was structured with the skill of a consummate and successful author (AKA Rowling).
The reader, Robert Glenister, complemented the material flawlessly: his acting was superb.
Bring on the next book in the series.
I downloaded this novel as the last words faded from Rosenberg's first novel, Death From a High Floor. How's that for a recommendation. The quality reading from Christopher Lane is complemented by co-reader, Kate Rudd. And, so engaged was I with the characters I had just met, I wanted to know more about them.
Bring on book three!
This novel was casually, randomly chosen as an under $10 book to use up a credit. What a find! Upon completing it I immediately downloaded the sequel (equally low cost – goodness knows why – these were quality books).
The reader was first rate – want to hear more from him. The characters strong. I think there may have been too much detail if I had been reading this but listening to it I devoured every word (again, because of the quality of the writing and reading).
Ok Grisham etc, there is a new writer to join your ranks. The writer a lawyer so I assumed the proceedings were soundly presented: Google search shows he was the legal script advisor to three prime time television shows which included my personal favourite, Boston Legal. I am waiting enthusiastically for the third book from Charles Rosenburg.
This has the sedate, carefully structured, beautifully nuanced atmosphere of a nineteenth century classical novel. Appropriate, since that is the setting. This is underlined by the glorious, melting intelligence of the ever-superb reading of Juliet Stevenson.
This is many novels. Broadly, it is about the British dominating the globe through individual strivings, even personal sacrifices, both at home and abroad. It is relationships and dealing with loneliness (the sexual tension was very well done), family, mandated personal self sufficiency. Life and meaning -- where there is no apparent meaning; and the courage to generate meaning. Each and every character lives.
It is also a novel that reaches over time. It visits the theories of evolution. For those who are comfortable with the conclusions of Darwin and Wallace amongst others, it is a journey into the minds of those who walked this path and wonderfully sympathetic to the limits imposed on Victorian women which denied the full flowering of their brilliance; it is an eloquent sharing of these thought processes for those who continue the doubts of those now long distant times.
It is an introduction to new worlds. I now look at mosses completely differently -- and with real appreciation and curiosity!
Roberts is a prolific and popular writer. I was interested to check out some of her work. So, of course, this was a well presented story. But I certainly was not one of her target readers. Rare for me, lots of fast forwarding, well, to see if what happens in the end is what is clearly going to happen in the end! It just went on and on. However it is an optomistic read for women who need the hope imbedded in a saga of tough no-housework, no-children, no-settling-down men being converted into dedicated and skilled family men.
The selfishness of young Dan was almost claustrophobic. I assumed something was going to happen beyond his excrutiating hyper focus on being the best swimmer in the world and his mother's subservience to him (or was it just pure love -- imponderable) and the theme of social exclusion based on class and behaviours. But this young man really didn’t interest me at all.
But I decided to continue because this book has attracted widespread attention in Australia.
Dishearteningly, this was also being read in the context of two key events outside the book. Our newly elected national leader was speaking and behaving in a way that made me ask if his was the voice of an older Dan, modified by time but the core aspirations still there – sport: to be the strongest and the best; leadership: the strongest and the best. Whatever it takes. And not particularly adept when the prize was his.
Secondly, a local television station aired a distressing discussion which included victims, their loved ones and rescuers, about the marked increase in attacks on people, young people, that do not lead to a good old fashioned dust up, but are glassings, and king hits, coming from nowhere. Echoes of Dan. This level is new in Australia.
One has to keep listening to see if this selfishness will be resolved. It is true, there is a constant and almost contradictory underpinning of generosity and patience in Can's care for ill people and this suggests a path that will transcend earlier behaviours. But for me there is a sense of ‘wishful thinking’. This difficult person sweeps past others, not with the power of hope and the holy grail of excellence, but with an urgent self absorbed belief that validates all that he does. The oft repeated mantra of his goal of strength and being the best has unsettlingly echoes, again, in many models of political leadership. Self indoctrination. Indoctrinate the others around us.
So much does the author want to donate Dan a socially acceptable future that there is even a hint that his crime has some justification as a social critique.
I agree that the role of the family as a more selfless decency is a heartening theme and the Tsiolkas effectively bestows on these poor people a positive role amid random acts of violence and personal disorientation.
So, there you go. I have read a book that has offered an interpretation, or explanation, of selfish and singleminded youth (is this a comment on the modern generation?), the school based training of a closed selfish and singleminded upper class, the comforting power of the family, and the acceptance of the fulfilment of homosexuality. OK. Done. But I found the language without music (intentional?) but I thought it was read very well -- with compassion, appropriately paced.
But despite any increase in understanding the human condition I may have gained from it, I really didn’t like the book but thought it had been worth completing.
Dickens demands a certain way of reading and thinking: a nineteenth century mindset, one that enjoys several grand themes (some melodrama, please) and entertaining minor characters intermingled with the necessarily self sacrificing Beautiful People and the Evil Ones who are the main characters. Long sentences, yes, and detailed descriptions of place and create an all pervading atmosphere.
So, reading Dickens can take some getting used to. But I had read and enjoyed Bleak House many years ago, and so, with the help of Simon Vance's outstanding narrative, persevered through the often ponderous beginnings. All the while, I admired this stunningly disciplined writer -- he held together the complexities of plot after subplot for 20 monthly installments.
Slowly but surely, I was increasingly immersed in the spell of this attack on the perfidy of the prevailing British legal system. What a combination: Vance and Dickens. Extraordinarily, each sentence (33 hours of sentences) has a musicality, a balance that reflects the subject matter. Vance understands this -- he flows with what Dickens is all about: the campaigner for social justice, the satirist, the sentimentalist. What a way to appreciate the power and elegance of this writer.
But more than that. Dickens is the supreme script writer for the cinema of the mind. His characters live, and Vance, a superb actor, gives them breath.
How have I gone so long in life getting so much joy from the works of Brahms without understanding something of this great composer and his life. How many times has my heart been lifted listening to his violin and piano concerti, his symphonies -- oh, why did I start making a list, all his works are all wonderful.
Upon downloading this series of lectures,a new and eminently accessible view of Brahms was revealed. I've only just finished listening and I am still under its spell.
Yet, for the listener who knows little or nothing about classical music, let alone who Brahms actually is, this would be an inspiring introduction. Professor Greenburg is funny, insightful, compassionate, and at times, delightfully satirical -- in short, a clever and effective communicator. Infectious, really.
Surely the sign of a really good book is when the last words have been spoken and listeners find themselves disappointed at having been abruptly separated from people and events that have been a real part of their lives (in this case for nearly16 hours). Well, if that is the case then this qualifies as a Really Good Book -- it ticks all the boxes.
The narrator: great voice, acted out the roles very convincingly (change of accents and voices very well done) and, best of all, didn't differentiate male and females voices through changing pitch. The writing was vivid. Elegant and succinct prose endowed each sentence an energy which created settings and personal characteristics.
While this was a crime mystery, that was only part of it. In fact, despite the urgency of the plot, for me the people became the most interesting aspect because The Cuckoo's Calling (clever title) was also the story of the lives of many individuals. Cormoran Strike, for example, is the detective, but he has his own compelling story which entwines throughout the central plot. I found myself caring about his well-being along with the decisions that Robyn will make about her life direction, and I was also repelled by, or drawn to the many other characters that moved in and out of my life through this book.
I had not read any of J K Rowling (Robert Galbraith) before but this book demonstrates what a talented writer she is and why she has been so very successful. I hope this is the beginning of a series.
Food barely comes into this easy and enjoyable listen But, read with enthusiasm and commitment, it is pleasantly escapist as our non-cook questions her urban professional lifestyle with its associated disillusionments and dishonesty. Within a few days, she finds her true life path in a small town in Texas where people are honest, accepting and community minded.
Then, there's the little matter of Mr Tall Dark and Handsome (enigmatic, but of course).
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