This is one of the finest books I've read in many years. After reading Empire Falls, I picked up all of Russo's books, and Nobody's Fool is by far the most accomplished. The portrayals of both the main character, a 60-something guy whose life has passed him by, and the minor characters, are brilliant. Nothing much happens in this book, whose story covers just a few days, but it is a heart-warming, humanist story.
Listening to this audiobook version brought back all the subtleties in Russo's writing. While it took me a while to get used to the reader, in the end I feel he has the perfect voice for this story. This book is long, and slow, and you just want it to continue for a longer time. But it's about real life, and life doesn't last forever.
If there's even been a candidate for the great American novel, this is certainly one of the front-runners. The only novel written by Ross Lockridge, Jr., who committed suicide shortly after publication, this tale of the United States and its history, seen from 1876, is as broad and deep as the Mississippi, and elevated as a New York skyscraper, and as full of wonder as any novel one can imagine. Both an intelligent book and one that is accessible to all, in spite of its length, Raintree County is my personal favorite American novel of all time. It combines the introspection of Emerson with the vast characterization of John Irving; the humor of Fitzgerald (when he was funny), with the seriousness of Steinbeck. In short, this is a novel not to miss. Don't be dissuaded by its length; it flies by, and you'll not regret reading (or listening to) it.
I'm currently more than halfway through this book, and I'm wondering whether it's worth finishing. There are two problems with this book: one with the book itself, the other with the narrator. For the latter, the problem is that he drones on and on, and is relatively hypnotic. In addition, he has the annoying - and insulting - habit of using bogus accents when foreigners are quoted. It's insulting because the accents are bad, and are stereotypes of what he thinks these foreigners sound like.
But on to the book itself. It drags on and on, saying the same thing over and over and over. The World is Flat was similar, but each chapter covered different places, ideas, and examples. In this book, I can't tell one chapter from another. Friedman would have done better to make a much shorter book. Perhaps, for a change, the abridged version of this book would be a better choice. I'm usually dead-set against abridgments, but this book is just too tedious.
To be fair, Friedman says a lot of interesting things; it's just that after the first three times you hear them, they get stale.
Without doubt, this is the best reading of any audiobook I've heard. The narrator performs this book rather than simply reading it, using a variety of voices, accents and tones to draw the portraits of the various characters. The story itself is interesting, looking at the human side of a murder, but it's the narrator that makes it worth listening to.
I'm very disappoined - this book is not unabridged, and contains only about half the essays in the "real" book. I was especially disappointed that it doesn't contain Menand's essay about William James, which is what interested me most in this book. Caveat emptor.
While this is an extremely interesting book- if you like Ian McEwan - it is marred by terrible sound quality (sounds like a telephone, but worse) and a reader who is in such a rush to get finished that he doesn't allow any nuances or emotions to get in his way. A shame.
I've read a fair number of books on Buddhism, and find it interesting to listen to teachings given extemporaneaously as well. I had never read or heard Pema Chodron before this, and find her spoken style to be quite attractive. However, there is little Buddhism in this recording, and little about meditation - there is much more what would, in different trappings, be called "pop psychology" than anything else. Sure, she gives some interesting insights, but not much of what she says really has a lot to do with Buddhism or meditation.
I'm sure others will feel differently, and perhaps this is the direction in which western Buddhism is moving - a merging of pop psychology and meditation with an emphasis on the former. Or, at least, perhaps this is what people want to hear under the category "Buddhism". I don't know; to each their own.
This is an excellent book, but not for everyone. Some other reviewers pointed out that they couldn't follow it, and, yes, Pynchon is hard to follow. I'm actually listening after reading the book (I read a couple of chapters then listen to the same parts.) With the strange character names, obscure ideas, and many twisted concepts, this is probably not a good choice for something to listen to in the car.
The narrator, however, turns this into a tour de force - his reading is inspired, and his wide variety of voices fits perfectly with the variegated characters.
The only issue I have is with the sound quality of the book. When listening on headphones, there is noticable distortion when the reader's voice gets louder than normal. I don't notice this on speakers, but it does detract slightly from the enjoyment of this book when I listen on my iPod. Also, there are a couple of points where you hear a voice saying "This is the end of CD X." Apparently, the file wasn't perfectly cleaned up when Audible put it up for sale. Finally, there is no cover art attached to the files - no big deal, but another minor quality issue.
I don't know if it's the reader or the story, but I couldn't even make it halfway through this book. I'm very interested in this period of US history, but this book just slogged on, trying to fit into the template of best-selling popular history books with narrative, background info, biography, etc.
I don't know why people have rated this so low; it's an excellent intro to the life and work of Proust, one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century. I have read Proust both in English and in French, as well as several biographies, and this audiobook (it was conceived for audio, and there is no paper edition) is certain to give enough information for the casual reader. In addition, its use of music helps enlighten listeners about the music that was important in Proust's oeuvre.
Good job, Naxos.
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