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Katherine

Philadelphia, PA, United States | Member Since 2012

11
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 5 reviews
  • 39 ratings
  • 159 titles in library
  • 20 purchased in 2014
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  • The Marriage Plot

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Jeffrey Eugenides
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1792)
    Performance
    (1483)
    Story
    (1478)

    It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

    FanB14 says: "Esoteric, Vapid, Trite"
    "Sadly Disappointed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I absolutely adored both the Virgin Suicide and Middlesex, and was excited to see that Eugenides had published anew. However, The Marriage Plot is bad in so many ways that I'm shocked. It is simultaneously pretentious and vapid (name-dropping and surface-level discussions of literary theory and spiritual philosophies), and the story is terribly juvenile. It is a story of pedestrian heartbreak, like most failed college relationships, and the characters are so totally plausible that they are boring, generic. I do not care about these people, or their feelings for one another, or their fates. I am also extremely put off by the exclusivity of the hardly-fictionalized, entirely-privileged world of Brown University. This feels like a poorly-executed, love-lorn, man-child's autobiography of Young Love's Dull Persistence.

    The narrator did the best he could with the material at hand, but no matter how great an actor/reader you are, it's nearly impossible to make some of this writing come off as natural, or talented. For instance, Eugenides actually uses "shot his load" and "curd of evidence," in all seriousness, in the same sentence, to describe a college boy's frustrated masturbatory experiences. A lot of this novel is just plain graceless.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Interestings

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Meg Wolitzer
    • Narrated By Jen Tullock
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1281)
    Performance
    (1135)
    Story
    (1138)

    The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age 15 is not always enough to propel someone through life at age 30; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence.

    Tango says: "Needs a better title, but a good read (listen)"
    "Tedious."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Even in moments when I could technically relate to the characters in The Interestings, I found myself annoyed and resistant to do so. While I appreciate the idea of a novel that follows the humdrum life of children assumed to become wildly successful in the arts, it's way too self-conscious, and the tone persists in being teenage precocious even after the characters become adults.

    It almost feels like YA fiction, with a few sex scenes (which were actually well-written, I have to give credit where credit is due). I am the demographic who ought to relate to this novel and I found it far too self-conscious. I imagine Wolitzer's cache of cultural and literary references to be like a word bank she lifts from with clockwork regularity: I, too, read and related to The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds during my high school years, but the mention of it here felt forced, a nonsequiter.

    I liked the reader's pace, it felt natural and excitable. Too bad the novel itself didn't match Jen Tullock's enthusiasm

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Goldfinch

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Donna Tartt
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (10268)
    Performance
    (9397)
    Story
    (9417)

    The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

    B.J. says: "A stunning achievement - for author and narrator"
    "top heavy."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The first half of this book was incredible, but the second half struggled to measure up. The novel as a whole is wonderful and worth the time. The narration is great, too. I just sort of wish the characters had never grown into adults.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Son of the Circus

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By John Irving
    • Narrated By David Colacci
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (506)
    Performance
    (235)
    Story
    (241)

    Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa, India. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.

    connie says: "If you liked "Q+A"..."
    "Not Irving's best effort."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've read a lot of John Irving, but most of it was years ago. I'm not sure if my tastes have changed or if this was a particularly lackluster novel for him, but I actually quit listening with only a few hours left to go, because I was so disinterested in the characters and the story, itself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Violent Bear It Away

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Flannery O’ Connor
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (110)

    The orphaned Francis Marion Tarwater and his cousin, Rayber, defy the prophecy of their dead uncle - that Tarwater will become a prophet and will baptize Rayber's young son, Bishop. A series of struggles ensue, as Tarwater fights an internal battle against his innate faith and the voices calling him to be a prophet, while Rayber tries to draw Tarwater into a more “reasonable” modern world. Both wrestle with the legacy of their dead relatives and lay claim to Bishop's soul.

    Darwin8u says: "Biblical, American and Absolutely Brutal"
    "Holy wow."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I am typically bored by literature that is too overtly influenced by the Christian faith/the Bible. Somehow, Flannery O'Connor has escaped such classification for me, and I am riveted by her, absolutely stunned: every time I read her, it feels like the first time I have encountered the idea of God. I liked Wise Blood, but The Violent Bear it Away is in a league of its own. This novel is so dark, and so unflinchingly intelligent and so surprising, and I wished it were 20 hours long instead of six. In fact, I listened to several chapters several times, not because they were difficult to follow, but because I was so amazed by her craft and its unfolding. It will be a difficult novel to follow-up.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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