This is perfect for when you need a cheerful book. So the story of a man with severe OCD might not seem like it would be cheerful? It is in Steve Martin's hands. He's very articulate and creative; I enjoyed his way with words. His reading style is perfectly entertaining as well...never drags, words are enunciated clearly and the tone fits the story well.
It is told in the first person narrative by Daniel, who is actually a likeable character whose neuroses prevents him from talking...well, talking like a normal, casual person...to women. But there is sweet love and friendly love in this story.
I also enjoyed Shop Girl, but I do think this story is overall more cheerful, even if Shop Girl was, on the whole, a more literary endeavor. The Pleasure of My Company is well written, showing Steve Martin continues to be a talented storyteller. I smiled sometimes, laughed out loud others, and the rest of the time just enjoyed the well-turned phrase.
I recommend this to anyone looking for a lighthearted, humorous book; anyone tired of depressing stories with too much drama and an unhappy ending. Which is me (I really needed this after a series of much too depressing books).
As expected, Katherine Kellgren delivers a superb performance, well worth the listen. But this book is really a short story padded up in superfluous descriptions. It is weighed down by wordiness, slowing down the entire plot and muddying the action with far too much contemplation. This felt like an insincere device, and an unnecessary one. All those repetitive details did not make it more lush or enchanting... Just buried the charming love story. It frustrated me as if I was standing in line at a buffet, stomach grumbling, behind an extremely slow group of people who had to talk about each dish before using tweezers to extract a serving for themselves and moving on to the next dish to do the same. I'd grab a hunk of bread and just make of if it was possible.
Overall, there are some clever parts to the story, and I liked the interweaving of fairy tales. I also found the characters to be, usually, interesting and likable. But, while I waited for things to actually take place and gore the plot to pick up the pace, I had too much time to think how silly the premise is. It bothers me when anything, book, movie or TV, depends on a character's refusal to do what most sane people would do: simple say something honest and normal. There's little reason Sunday, who is otherwise very smart, couldn't draw the most obvious conclusion about where her frog is...or even at least hope a little, even if she didn't think it was her kiss. And there's even less reason for him to not just come straight out and admit it...his making up arbitrary rules about how he must win her love is just silly. So, only enjoying Kellgren's artful performance makes this audiobook a bearable listen.
I enjoyed listening to this book and I'm glad I got the audio instead of the print version. This is one of those cases where an oral reading enhances the story, makes it better. Because of the conversational tone and rather banal setting (it all takes place inside an apartment building) it works very well as a performance. The narrator does a great job keeping the pace varied and interesting and making the protagonist likable.
Honestly, though, I didn't think most his observations about the girls above him to were funny, so I'm not sure how a Twitter following was gained in actuality. But for the novel, it's a good device to tell a story that really does have some heart to it. If you can see past the Tweets and into the story of Charlie and his neighbors, you'll find a lively and affable tale to amuse when you're in the mood for something light.
Some books are much better read, some are better heard. For example, I've listened to Bossy Pants, but read Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me. I loved hearing Steve Martin read his book, Company of Myself, but I didn't like hearing Object of Beauty so I stopped listening and got the print version instead (nothing wrong with the narrator's performance, just the style of writing is better visualized than heard). Khaled Hosseini gave a wonderful reading of his first two books, but And the Mountain Echoed as an audiobook was just...not my thing, so again, had to read it. Finally, any Frank McCourt book is a must have, but hearing it in his voice is a magical experience. I mention all this not to be annoying or digress, but to point out why I recommend this book while giving an idea of other books I enjoyed as a comparison. Dear Girls Above Me isn't brilliant literature, but it is cohesively and articulately written with a logical, believable character arc. I think it would certainly be a good read, as long as you're in the right mood, but it's an even better listen.
Side note: adult situations and harsh language, so parents, you probably don't want to have this on with kids around.
Other reviewers criticize the foul language, but it isn't the use of profanity that is itself a problem: it is the characterization of Fliss, Richard and Ben. These are characters so negative and mean that the swearing just punctuates how foul and unlikeable they are. Not a problem in some books perhaps, but here these ugly personalities cause big problems:
1) Fliss is not only a central character, she is one of two protagonists, yet she is completely unsympathetic. This not only alienates the audience, it is agitating. She is really a self-centered, bitter woman. Hard to buy she loves her sister. She comes across as so crass and cold-hearted in her view of love and sex, that even her relationship with her young son cannot make her appear more loving. (The son does behave far too immature for his age...is this because he's special needs? If so, it's not clear; this isn't built up very well.)
2)Ben as a character is under-developed and inconsistent. Are we supposed to be glad these two are together or not? Is he a good guy or not? I don't think there's any harm in making him more likable, but he is just a pawn to move the plot forward. We never get inside his head, really, and his lack of integrity makes him annoying, also.
3) Small spoiler: Richard appears back on the scene: are we supposed to like him? Maybe some chapters from his perspective would help. But when we first meet him, he is such a bonehead, how can we want anything but for him to get lost, no matter how much he's described by Fliss in flattering ways. Fliss's opinion of him is unreliable because she's too neurotic and bitter and cold.
4) The only two likable characters are each paired with unlikeable characters. Big problem in a romance story because all I could find myself hoping for is Lottie and Lorcan to ditch the other three people, telling them where to stuff it, and run off together to never talk to the others. (If that's where the story is headed, then there is no clue of that by the half way mark.) So the majority of the story isn't light-hearted, funny romance but frustration that these nice people are stuck with such jerks. The story is in a constant state of tension with very little comic relief because these characters are such self centered downers.
The concept of chasing after two impulsive people to stop a wedding is an interesting one, and maybe it could be pulled off with different characterizations or with a different premise. But what they're trying to stop from happening, and the attitude and manner in which they try to stop it...well, it stretches way too far beyond suspension of disbelief. That element of crassness...it's too crude.
It's meant to be funny, and maybe there was some future comedy of errors/sexcapade film in mind when it was written. It doesn't ring true, though, and the chemistry is off, and it doesn't hold together or deliver happy laughs, just uncomfortable ones. It doesn't hit its mark.I want fun, cheerful, affable and charming characters when I read this genre. I pick it up to have my mood lifted, not to be annoyed. The bad language isn't the problem, it's just an example of what's wrong with the overall story.
The narrators, though, deliver such wonderful, lively performances that this audiobook still remains an enjoyable listen. And it is well-written and interesting overall. Just be sure you're in the right mood for it, ready to find amusement in the oddball circumstances and interplay between the dueling main characters. Let go of judgement and expectations, and just listen. It's too bad when critical thinking needs to be dialed back in order to enjoy a book. It's that sort of thing that gives "chick lit" a derogatory reputation. But, if you can do that, this is an entertaining production and still may rate better than much of the other romance drivel out there.
There were a few disappointments to the overall book that, for me, led to my rating it 4 stars overall; but that's still a very good book on my scale (5 stars are reserved for instant classics).
The reader is excellent: pace, tone, inflection...and everything else about excellent narration is here. I never stopped being immersed in the story as I never thought about what the reader was doing; the reader never distracted from the characters and story.
This is not gruesome horror, far from it. It is a surreal, preternatural mystery that is focused mainly on the characters and the intrigue of the building.The story has a Twilight Zone feel which I enjoy (I liked the old Rod Sterling TV series, too).
While it has some predictable elements and moments of vapidity, the plot remains interesting and entertaining from beginning to end. The characters, or most of them, are dynamic and likeable...with just the right balance between conflict and camaraderie. I hated the religious stereotyping and would have greatly appreciated a bit more diversity in that case, yet it all works for the story itself. The obligatory "otherwise smart character using poor judgement" comes into to play as it too often does in books of this sort, all for the sake of advancing plot at characters' expense. But these downsides are forgivable as the book does what it's meant to do: entertain.
Laura Hillenbrand knows how to deliver this true story in a way that gives details without overwhelming the listener with too much at once. The narrator does a good job pacing the reading to match the story, pausing only where is needed to let us absorb what we heard but otherwise quick enough that it always remains interesting ( too many other narrators pause too long after every phrase, drawing out mundane descriptions and making them boring to hear). The story itself is uplifting and moving.
There is an interesting story hidden here amongst the mundane details; the story never hits its stride. Whether it's the timing or the overabundance of extraneous descriptions, but the humor and wit bubbling below the surface never rises up. After the initial
While the narrator has a nice, clear voice with good enunciation, she has a constant breathless quality as if almost everything the protagonist is feeling is heartfelt or exasperating... Her pace never varies, is always the same slow rythm, with overlong pauses for commas and periods... it was frustrating during the less interesting segments. It would go unnoticed, perhaps, if the writing itself was more gripping, but the story lacks wit and the narration does nothing to improve it.
As curious as I was to find out if Anna does contact the person she wants to talk to--and to find out the mystery of the doggie do do--I just couldn't keep listening. I was too impatient... so I plan on checking out the book so I can skim through the slow parts and linger over the funnier more interesting parts. As a listen, though, Is Anybody Out There did not work for me.
If the things that bothered me are not things to bother you, then I can recommend this listen. If the story sounds interesting to you, though, yet slow pacing and mundane details would be a deterrent to you, perhaps try reading the book instead?
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