This may be the best reading I've ever heard. The book is a knockout, of course, although McCarthy is not for the faint of heart. I only wish Audible had the same reader do the rest of the Border Trilogy.
After seeing the Hobbit movie, I was left with the unsettling feeling something was missing. As soon as Inglis began reading, I remembered what it was: The Hobbit has a sweetness and optimism. It's really not the first book of Lord of the Rings, a much darker and more serious tale. The very lighthearted Hobbit stands on its own, and Bilbo's main contribution is his buoyant spirit. The plot of the Hobbit is not particularly important -- again, unlike LOTR -- but the storytelling is great. And the greatest of these pleasures is Inglis's beautiful singing of the songs. Whether it's an elf ballad or a goblin taunt, the songs are the best part of this audio book. Highly recommended, especially if like me you hadn't read the Hobbit in many years.
No spoilers in this review -- important as this book is full of surprises.
It gives nothing away to say that there are two side-by-side realities in this novel, neither of which is the one we live in. Or think we live in, which is a major theme of Hardboiled Wonderland.
If you only read one Murakami novel, this may not be the place to start (I'd recommend Kafka by the Shore). But Murakami enthusiasts should love this one. So should those interested in depth psychology.
There's little actual violence in this one, at least compared to, say, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Not the same as no violence, but nothing that horrified me.
Without giving anything away, I should note that the ending of this book keeps opening up in your mind long after you finish the novel. In short, it's not over when you get to the end.
1491 is less a history than an argument for the theory that the New World was vastly more populated than we all learned in school. Where did everyone go? Unimaginable epidemics. But that's not the real point of the book. The real point is betrayed by the way the author uses the word "environmentalist" as a slur. His thesis is that man has been altering the New World environment since time zero, and that efforts to preserve the environment are foolish attempts to return to a Neverland that never was. The antienvironmentalist screed becomes cloying long before one gets through this very long book. Also annoying, as another reviewer has noted, is the author's frequent technique of desribing -- at length -- the history of a period or place and then saying "NOT!" and giving quite a different set of interpretations.
No, this isn't arrow-through-the-head or wild-and-craaazy-guy stuff. Martin here inhabits the mind of an OCD man whose obsessions merely exaggerate our own (well, men's anyway). It's a funny, moving story that Martin reads in his own inimitable way of spitting consonants and odd inflections. Highly recommended.
If you're looking for an antidote to those awful "Left Behind" books -- His Dark Materials is it. There are no easy answers here -- but a treasure trove of wonderful characters, a surprisingly mature theology, and deeply accurate (if disturbing) psychology. The bonus for listeners is not only Pullman's terrific narration (he's a born storyteller) but the wonderful cast of actors that play characters ranging from armored bears to the angels above. Probably the best books on tape I've ever heard. Plug this one in and you won't want your daily commute to end.
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