I wasn't as enchanted by this interview as I have been with some others on this site, but it was good. I was intrigued enough to go out and pick up an earlier work that Simon mentions. If you don't know much about this author, and how a geographical event can make a good non-fiction narrative, then you should tune in to this interview.
I just finished listening to the Blackstone audiobook production of the original novelization by Dellos Lovelace of the Wallace screenplay for _King Kong_. I am struck by just how little visual description is given in Lovelace's text. If it weren't for this lack, I think the story would be a fun, if not exactly intellectual read. As it is, I can't help but wondering if Lovelace wasn't counting on all of his readers having images from the movie already in their heads. I have read very few novelizations of films. I figure the book will nearly always be less interesting than the movie, just as surely as the reverse (any movie based on a book) is nearly always a disappointing, watered down product. I do recall reading Alan Dean Foster's _Alien_ as a child, because there was no way for me to sneak into an R-rated film and I really wanted to see what my older cousins were talking about. The book was tedious, but I do love the film. Anyway, I can't say that I would recommend reading _King Kong_ (the orginal). ...And I'm not even tempted by the novelization of the generally awful Peter Jackson movie of the same name. The audiobook reader, Stephan Rudnicki, is more than passable, though his voice is a bit too deep and croaky for my taste. The real problem is that the book doesn't add anything to the experience of having seen the film. It's kind of like having someone who IS watching the movie describe the action to you. Having said that, if you are looking for a light-hearted romp that you don't have to pay much attention to while, say, driving through heavy traffic, then this audiobook might be just the thing for you. I should add that there are some substantial comments at the end of the story by Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Orson Scott Card, Ray Harryhausen, and others. Most of them have something interesting to say, though I think a bit more editing in this section would have been wise.
The fact that these A&E Biographies are simply scraped off audio from their famous television series is painfully obvious when the fastest talker in the world breaks in intermittantly to assign credits to each speaker. I could only recommend this show for someone who needs some quick background on the subject for a class, presentation, or similar event. In this particular case, I would add that it's pretty irresponsible to try and make a serious show out of such a thinly documented subject. Very little is known about Solomon and Sheba, so the A&E show is about 90% speculation and gibberish.
The fact that these A&E Biographies are simply scraped off audio from their famous television series is painfully obvious when the fastest talker in the world breaks in intermittantly to assign credits to each speaker. I could only recommend this show for someone who needs some quick background on the subject for a class, presentation, or similar event.
The inevitable subject when reviewing this book is the age of Paolini when he wrote it. Let's get this elephant out of the room by saying it is an impressive feat, to say the least.
Moving on, Eragon is a solid read for any fan of fantasy. My complaints are that it is a bit predictable at points and it is very derivative of several classic fantasy authors. Yes, I know that borrowing ideas is tradition in good writing, but some of the references (e.g. place names and such) are such obvious homages that they proved distracting for me. The escapist fantasy bubble in which I like to read was burst. Also, there are a few sloppy chains of thought in the book that I was disappointed to encounter. I would love to give examples of these criticisms, but they include plot spoilers.
Lest you think this review is entirely too negative. I will point to the 4-star rating I set for Eragon, and simply say that I DID enjoy listening to the story quite a bit. I will likely pick up Eldest as well, also available on this site.
I would simply warn any hard core fantasy readers that this book has almost no chance of living up to the "hype." If you walk into this with expectations that it will be the best fantasy novel you ever read or will read, you will be disappointed.
I love this book and the choice of narrator was fortunate, since he played JH in the television version as well. I won't gush on about the greatness of the book or the reader though, since others have done that. Let me just note that there is one oddity in the file. At 5:27:07 - 5:27:39 of the second part, there is a bit that audible.com forgot to delete, announcing that "This is the end of side 20 ..." If you couldn't already tell by the acceptable but not stellar audio quality, this audiobook was re-recorded from a cassette tape source.
I have always liked this somewhat dated but juicy little novel. The original book is quite short, so I really don't understand the point of abridging it. There are no "slow parts." The real shame here, though, is that the audio quality is really bad. I would love to see a new recording of this book. If all you know about this title is the cheesy 1970's movie, then you should pick up the book. It's a great and fun read. If you can handle some garbled listening, then this abridgement is a marginally acceptable substitution for the book.
I couldn't make it all the way through this free introduction to "Conversations." Eldridge's "schtick" is dripping with sentimentality and ego; he barely mentions God. Maybe I am being too unkind, but I just feel like Eldridge is pushing his own largely unqualified self-help philosophies rather than Christianity in his books. The book _Wild at Heart_ for instance would have men judge their lives by standards taken from the movies. If Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how to be a good person, why do I need to watch Braveheart or Last of the Mohicans fifty times to learn what it is to be a man? Jesus never carried a sword or a gun. His heroic triumphs were more complex, humane, and above all not fictional. I suggest that those looking for a spiritual direction in their lives find a more authentic mentor.
If I were back in my art history class studying this text again (it has been well over a decade now) I would have appreciated this intro to/overview of the chapter. The audio was crisp and clear, the voices good. The only complaint I have is that the coverage is a little "basic." I toyed with the idea for a moment of playing this for the Honors Humanities class I teach, but decided there just wasn't enough tooth to the material to justify the time spent. I wished a few concepts that were of a more advanced nature would have been discussed.
Maybe I have just heard one too many interviews with this cast, but I thought this one was a little flat. The only spark of life was when one of the boys talked about having the ending to _The Lord of the Flies_ ruined for him. That moment was funny. The rest seemed like DVD filler material.
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