This book is as insufferable as the house guest that ties the book together. I got this book based on its awards and strong critical reviews but found the book an annoying slog. Smith uses devices that I usually enjoy in writting (streams of consiousness, multiple narratives, no real heavy plotting) but creates a book that just caused me to give a thousand mile stare when listening too.
Here are some of the problems I had with the book:
1) Characters are poorly introduced and you need to spend a large chunk of time figuring out where the fit into the plot rather than enjoying the story; a few characters and plot lines I just gave up on; some books are worth the effort of really trying to understand it; this is not one of them.
2) Streams of consiousness that go no where and speak like some trivia napkin or fortune cookie
3) the book seems to be in love with its own cleverness like Smith just discovered certain ideas in metafiction and narrative and decided to take it out for a test drive with little consequence or interesting results
This might be your cup of tea but I just found the book awful. The narrator also has a rather shrill tone of a school marm.
This book starts off well but it just went on a bit too long and had long stretches of action that was not suspenseful or interesting; was Hill paid by the word?
As a whole this is a good fantasy novel. I would hardly call it a horror (it did not really spook me at all). The less you know about the plot the better, The book has a real 'fairy tale' vibe too it and I really did like the main protagonists but like I say Hill just lost me in his sea of needless action description.
The narration is excellent.
I will say this I laughed lots during Romance and the play is definitely not for the politically correct but I was a bit taken aback that a great dramatist like Mamet would write such a silly and entertaining play with no substance that I could find.
Mamet has written some great comedies (Speed the Plow) but this is one of the only works I can think of that exists solely to be silly and make the audience laugh. The play is bordering on absurdist in ths structure and dialog but I could not really irk out a real theme or point in this work.
There is mention of justice, arab/jew/christian relations, and sexuality but I am not sure how Mamet wanted to tie those ends together. But as a whole a real funny (if empty calorie) play.
The highlight is Fred Willard (Best in Show) as the judge with a bad case of hay fever.
I would have given this collection of short stories a better review if the last 3 stories in the collection were not such an ordeal to finish. But the collection starts off great (the opening story is a fascinating/sad/funny vision of heaven) and is followed by some good stories with well realized (sometimes unlikeable) characters.
The book covers the modern US urban/smalltown west of Idaho and Utah (which is not given much coverage in contemporary literature) and also gives an interesting portrait of Mormons (ex-Mormons) that rarely moves into over characterization or grotesque.
Hardly in the same league as the latest collection by George Saunders but worth a look if you are interested in the short story genre/stories set in Idaho/the Mormon/ex-Mormon experience.
OK if you have not read/listened to the work of Bradbury start there. If you still want more this collection is a rather good collection of stories (not as good as Bradbury's classics).
Most of the stories focus more on his sci-fi/fantasy side rather than his nostalgic small town life side (Dandelion Wine). I would almost say that the Joe Hill story is worth the price of admission; One of the best short stories I have heard in recent memory.
Charles Yu is trying hard to write in the vernacular of a Philip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut (sci-fi as satire) but mostly fails.
I read this book a few months ago and I have no memory of a memorable story or even anything that made me laugh. With the abundance of quality short fiction out there this is definitely a pass.
Hitch leaves on a high note discussing his favorite topics religion (or his problems with it), literature, and life.
This is actually a real good jumping off point if one is interested in reading further Hitchens at it almost purely Hitchens and his articulate opinions.
I will just list the strengths of this collection of stories rather than an actual review
1) Emma Donoghue is a writter that manages to capture interesting literary themes in very accesible readable/page turning stories
2) The time and place of the stories are clearly set at the beginging so the reader is not spending time figuring what period a story is taking place
3) All/most of these stories are based on actual events. Donoghue is a real good researcher and historical writer
4) All the stories have a general theme of people leaving or finding a physical/mental place which ties the stories together well.
A definitie reccomendation
This book is not so much about the US Dream Team as much as it is about a golden age of hoops. McCallum does a good job profiling the personalities of the team and what made the players legends. He also goes into the behind the scenes working (and ego) that went into picking the team and how the players interacted with each other on and off the court. The book has a behind the scenes feel that does not feel gossipy or tabloidy. The only thing this book was lacking was tactics and real good summaries of the games but I was glad that was not in this book because it would have really weighed down the narrative.
Apparently this book was originally published as an online serialized book and you can really tell. There were numerous times when it was CRYING out for an editor.
There are some rather funny and interesting moments in the book but there was numerous times when I had no clue what was going on and/or the book could have used a good pair of scissors.
The narration is fine but be warned this book is really blue (lots of sex and potty humor) not for the squeamish.
This is a great primer on the excellent TV series. Zicree does go into good detail about the production of every episode and the TV show in general (including spoilers). A good book for someone who has seen the run of the series and wants more information. The guide format worked great for a anthology show like Twilight Zone but I did notice myself zooming out more than I would have a straight linear format. Stay tuned to the end of the audiobook with a rather funny interview with the great actor/TZ regular Burgess Meredith who does not suffer Zicree's dumb/non-topical questions.
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