I'm a pretty big fan of Murakami's work, but Norwegian Wood proved to be a rare disappointment. The story is a rambling male sexual fantasy, without any of the weirdness or resonance of other books like Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.
Worse, though, is the irritating way that this narrator reads female characters' dialogue. He uses a squeaky, harebrained voice that really took me out of the story. Since this is Murakami, the conversations with various woman characters go on and on and on.
Even if I liked the story, which I did not, I can't recommend this audiobook based on its wretched performance.
seriously, though, I don't mind Orlean's performance. True, she's not a pro, but there's nuance and wit to her reading.
This very detailed biography starts with a bang, but loses a bit of steam in the last third or so. I loved hearing about the origins of Rin Tin Tin, and I cried when (SPOILER ALERT, I guess) Rinty I dies.
Audible recommended this book based on a high rating I gave "The Road." Except for the very similar premise, this couldn't have been more different. Problems that come with living after nuclear war-- shoot! Why did we buy all that ice cream?-- are predictably solved. The characters are paper-thin, and slanted slightly towards racist and sexist stereotypes. Waste of a credit!
Here's how I describe this to my friends: 'A Christmas Story' meets 'Animal House' meets 'Art School Confidential.'
This is a highly entertaining story about an artist's freshman year in the late 50's. The humor takes on its own personality through the performance of Bronson Pinchot. For some reason, one of the main female characters, the narrator's quasi-love-interest, is characterized with an odd Mr. Howell voice (that's Mr Howell of Gilligan's Island).
I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys depraved, oddball comedy, and who enjoys a story about an artist learning to challenge everything he's ever been taught.
It was hard not to listen to this story without constant eye-rolling. At first I thought that Stockett must have been incredibly bold to write a (partial) first-person story about the Black Experience during just-pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. Turns out, though, that this wasn't so much boldness as it was abject naivete. This is the story of three women whose lives were connected through the blurry lines of class and race. Essentially, it was supposed to be the way things 'really are' between black servants and their white employers. My main problem is that Stockett seems to have unconsciously tapped into stereotypes anyway, even if they are more modern and politically correct. In this story, there are only three types of people: Good white people, evil white people, and noble African-Americans. Oh, except for this one black man, who isn't mentioned much, except to serve as a villianous wifebeater. Stockett stays far away from issues which she doesn't understand: the black characters attend church but never discuss, outwardly or inwardly, their spirituality. The only love story involves the plucky white heroine. And there is only one brief exchange between aforementioned heroine-- who is bravely Risking it All in the name of brotherhood-- and an angry black woman, embittered by recent racial violence.
OK, after all this, I must admit that, for all its unwitting condescension, this story was still engrossing and deeply entertaining. I still say that it would have been much more compelling and honest if it had been told entirely from the perspectives of white characters-- (Miss Celia, anyone?) I still found myself breezing through the entire story in two days' time. I recommend 'The Help' to anyone who likes a good story, and doesn't need too-deep exploration into murky race relations.
Sorry, Kate Harper, but I kept picturing muppets talking whenever you do a man's voice. I blame the director, not you.
'The Age of Innocence' is one of my favorite novels, and I'm even pretty fond of 'The House of Mirth' right up until that miserable ending, so I was excited to get into this novel, which I've heard to be lauded as Wharton's masterpiece of the Roaring 20's. 'The Glimpses of the Moon' wasn't exactly disappointing. The characters are lively and sharply drawn, and this is pretty satisfying on a level that enjoys a good romance novel.
Besides the muppet voices, though, I think that my problem with this book is that I've seen this story way too many times. Girls were taking their futures into their own hands, but still letting their silly little hearts get in the way. Maybe in those days, it was fresh and exciting to suggest that a woman might enter into a sham marriage for business reasons, only to fall in love with her husband when it's seemingly too late. 90 years later, this is just about exactly the plot of movies like 'The Engagement' and 'The Wedding Date." Edith Wharton's version is at least more interesting, in that its' characters have more depth, and it wasn't so simple for me to figure out what choice I wanted the two protagonists to make in the end.
Speaking of the end, without giving away any spoilers, the last 30 seconds may have been my favorite part. Good ol' Edith Wharton really came a long way in the art of ending a story with a balance of subtle symbolism, realism and a that's-a-wrap-but-what-could-possibly-come-next? that keeps me, the reader, coming back for more.
Anyway, this book presents an interesting viewpoint that won't seem satisfying to today's feminists or yesterday's moralists: essentially, you CAN'T have it all, and trying to do so with your smarts will only complicate the matter.
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