Based on the trailer for the film I had no interest in this story. After seeing the very high ratings the audio book has received I decided to give it a try and am pleased I did. The story is engrossing from the beginning, beautifully structured and poetically written. Listening to it I am transported completely to another place and time and I developed a great affection for several characters in the story. It is a much more nuanced and sophisticated telling than the film trailer suggests. I am so glad I gave it a chance.
This wasn't so much an audiobook as it was the audio of a one-person show. Not that it really mattered. Short, and yet a little long in parts, this was an enjoyable listen of her spiritual journey. Julia tells the story of her ambitious, loyal effort to retain a belief in the God she grew up with. I was interested to listen as my study of Judaism had led me to the surprising discovery that many ritual-following, synagogue-going Jews are actually atheists and I am still struggling to understand why. Julia's upbringing was Catholic but I thought her story might shed more light on how it is people "lose" their religion, or keep their religion but subtract the belief in God. I can't say I gained any insights that I didn't already have but it was an enjoyable journey to take with her for a little less than 3 hours.
This was a poetic mix of short stories, some so different from the others that it was as if they were by different authors, but all held together with a common theme of the tension between the old and contemporary Jewish experiences. As a non-Jew who is interested in and studies Judaism, I wanted a contemporary, literary perspective on Jewish life that included both observant and secular points of view. I got much more than I expected. Some of the stories are light and easy, some dark and troubling, one read as a writing from the Ketuvim, which is to say biblical. A memorable listen, unexpected in its broadness, affecting in its humanness.
Tina Fey is endearingly self-deprecating and it was a pleasure to listen to someone I would consider stalk-worthy efface herself to the point where I felt like I had shared a bunkbed with her through all of childhood. That's pretty cool. The behind-the-scenes story of her SNL stint are hilarious. I work across the street from 30 Rock in NYC and can't look out the window of my office without scanning for jars of pee in the window sills across 49th Street. Listen and you will understand.
This was a quick listen and just right. The premise is dark and, ultimately, deeply sad. Many times while listening I wondered what was going on in the time it was written and the possibilities for symbolism and cultural cues of that time are rich and provactive. So it was a thoughtful listen, too. The performance was a bit overly dramatic for me at times, and thus a little distracting, but easily forgiven. I recommend it for those who are in the mood to go someplace less cheerful and hopeful for a brief time.
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