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Caleb

bloomington, IN, United States | Member Since 2008

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HELPFUL VOTES
  • 4 reviews
  • 167 ratings
  • 383 titles in library
  • 37 purchased in 2014
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  • Them: Adventures with Extremists

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Jon Ronson
    • Narrated By Jon Ronson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (582)
    Performance
    (529)
    Story
    (526)

    Them began as a book about different kinds of extremists, but after Jon had got to know some of them - Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen - he found that they had one oddly similar belief: that a tiny, shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, Jon sets out, with the help of the extremists, to locate that room. The journey is as creepy as it is comic, and along the way Jon is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and more.

    aaron says: "Dated but VERY Good... and FUNNY!"
    "Great Listen."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. Ronson's writing itself is worth the credit. His understated sense of humor and self-deprecating tone are refreshing without being too cute. I would probably listen to a book about wallpaper if he'd written it so the fact that this book deals with outlandish people and tension-filled situations makes the listen all the more enjoyable.


    What does Jon Ronson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I prefer audio books read by their authors, particularly when the authors have a deadpan delivery and are not over-polished readers. I think others have mentioned this: there is some similarity between Ronson and Bryson in terms of tone, both in speaking and in prose. Bryson fans might appreciate this work and other Ronson-read Ronson books.He inserts a lot of information and opinion between the lines; His narration makes it is easier to pick up on these subtleties.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Not so much a tidbit -- more like a life lesson ... Equanimity is the best defense against madness. Ronson's relative evenness and disinclination to be drawn into defensive rhetoric or shouting matches, throw the madness of some of his subjects into greater relief than could ever be achieved through righteous anger or spirited criticism. It is interesting to me that his brand of faux naivete, his almost willful refusal to condemn anyone or anything wholesale, allows him to gain so much access to the inner workings of some extremely strange and some extremely dangerous minds.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lolita

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Vladimir Nabokov
    • Narrated By Jeremy Irons
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2177)
    Performance
    (1314)
    Story
    (1310)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Among the great literary achievements of the 20th century, Lolita soars in audio thanks to the incomparable Jeremy Irons, bringing to life Nabokov’s ability to shock and enthrall more than 50 years after publication. Lolita became a cause celebre because of the erotic predilections of its protagonist. But Nabokov's masterpiece owes its stature not to the controversy its material aroused but to its author's use of that material to tell a love story that is shocking in its beauty and tenderness.

    Jim says: "An Absolutely Gorgeous Audible Experience"
    "Even Better than the Real Thing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Lolita to be better than the print version?

    Yes.

    Jeremy Irons has taken one of the greatest novels ever written in the English language and made it better. My inner reading voice doesn't hold a candle to his--- Nabokov himself with his shambling sputtery delivery (as can be heard on old recordings) does not capture HH as Irons does...


    What about Jeremy Irons’s performance did you like?

    Irons's accent shimmers with intelligence, breeding, refinement...and his deep, world-weary voice has sinister notes. This combination reflects HH's suave European aspect and his lurking criminality.

    Nabokov packed his sentences with irony and humor some of which is difficult to recognize. Jeremy Irons does a wonderful job of drawing out those nuances.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I have read this book three times and listened twice... even so, the performance does so much to bring this to life that I found myself rewinding a lot... just to listen again to the sentences and to the delivery...


    Any additional comments?

    I first listened to this recording on cassette about ten years ago. I was once asked in some context or other for my favorite works of art or performance of all time; I listed this reading in my top five. It remains.

    I sort of wish annotated versions of novels would be recorded in audio form... Lolita is a prime prospect for this treatment. What do you think the likelihood is of getting Jeremy Irons to come back to record a stack of footnotes?

    Right. I won't hold my breath either.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Deborah Feldman
    • Narrated By Rachel Botchan
    Overall
    (352)
    Performance
    (296)
    Story
    (294)

    In this captivating memoir, Deborah Feldman takes listeners on an eye-opening journey into Orthodox Jewish culture. Raised in the suffocating world of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim, Feldman was told what to read and who she was allowed to talk to. Married off at 17, she suffered from anxiety and was shamed by an inability to please her older husband. But after giving birth to a son at age 19, Feldman realized it was time to tear up her roots and make her own path in life.

    Ella says: "A one-sided glimpse into a secretive world"
    "Captivating. Surprisingly universal."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    This is a well-told account. There is nothing petty or particularly malicious about the author's portrayal of the Hassidic world in which she is raised. In spite of her obvious distance from the rituals and traditions of that community and some horrifying reports of events in and around that community, her complaints do not come off as gratuitous. Feldman is careful to paint a backdrop that explains , if not justifies, the conduct of the Satmars.
    Aside from the inspirational fact of a woman freeing herself from confinement, the story is dramatic and entertaining. As much as the book is a personal account related to a particular ethnic group and type, people of all backgrounds are often faced with similar challenges. Many are at some point faced with reconciling their intuition with the teachings and cultures of the home in which they have been raised, People who have had to navigate relationships with parents who exhibit strong political opinions,unyielding religious or social points of view, even athletic biases, will find this book more a reflection on the struggle to think critically and develop independence than an account of the odd goings on in the Hassidic world.
    That said, for people who live and/or work in cities with large Hassidic communities and have always wondered what it all means, what those individuals are all thinking and doing, this book gives a pretty frank peek into that remote and insular community... albeit through a decidedly unromantic lens. So maybe take it with a grain of salt... or two.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Elijah Wood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2677)
    Performance
    (2150)
    Story
    (2134)

    A Signature Performance: Elijah Wood becomes the first narrator to bring a youthful voice and energy to the story, perhaps making it the closest interpretation to Twain’s original intent.

    james d. thomas says: "Worthy "signature" premiere"
    "Doesn't get much better than this"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you love best about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: A Signature Performance by Elijah Wood?

    Strong performance, timeless story, unbeatable prose


    Any additional comments?

    Been a long time since I last read Huck Finn. It is certainly a scathing look at racism; but it is also a study in hopelessness. Published twenty five or so years after the end of slavery, Mark Twain paints a portrait of world that is unlikely to change. Hemingway once criticized the introduction of Tom Sawyer in this novel -- but without Tom Sawyer's character, the lesson in his absurd treatment of a freed slave -- would be lost. The book is packed with irony and humor and suspense but it is devastatingly sad.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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