As with many others who came across this book thanks to the NGP label, I am now happily exposed to an author I had not previously known. This is an absurdist SF adventure of the best sort: smart, funny and just as timely now as it was when written.
I will admit that the book was both interesting and at times educational, even for someone who considers himself fairly well versed in both the sport and the culture/business surrounding it. That being said, the book meanders quite a bit and seems to be missing a basic thesis or purpose. It's neither an expose nor a simple journalistic piece and as a result, it's not clear what the author's goal with the work as a whole is. A better recommendation may be The Atlantic's "The Shame of College Sports" by Taylor Branch.
This was another good and interesting read from Connie Willis, continuing in the tradition of Domesday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. A very interesting take on historical fictions, exposing the reader to the suspense, drama and fear of the Blitz in WWII London. I enjoyed the reader and the various character voices she brought to life.
The only beef on the book, however, is the same one that many other reviewers have expressed. This is not a two-part book. This is one book split into two and the buyer should be prepared to be buy both parts or face the reality of listening to a good cliffhanger without much sense of closure.
I have listened to all of Joseph Finder's books to date and find his books and characters an entertaining listen. At first, this one did not disappoint. Although the set up is different this time around, with the hero not a corporate insider, the environments will be familiar to fans of Finder. The narration by Holter Graham was engaging and not distracting in the least.
The only beef I have with this book is the ending. After 8+ hours of intrigue, the ending caught me off guard... and not in a good way.
I don't know what I was expecting but the end result certainly was not it. The stories of up-and-coming comedians working the lower rungs of the circuit was just slow and boring. About the most interesting thing about the book is the realization that all boring jobs are... boring.
It really is too bad such a great story is weighed down by such a nondescript and blas? title because the story is a very entertaining one. Set during the peak of the Great Depression, Cinderella Man walks us through the peaks and valleys of turn-of-the-century boxing before entourages and scandal turned the public off. Although mostly focused on the story of James J. Braddock, we also hear of his contemporaries, their rises, reigns and falls.
This story will inevitably raise comparisons to a contemporary "Cinderella" story: Seabisquit. The horse, however, wins this match hands down. Nevertheless, take a listen to both and transport yourself easily to a different time.
Here's my Lewis Black history: originally though he was a loud-mouthed hack of a comic who would deliver punch lines with all the subtly of a Mack truck. The louder the scream, the funnier it must be when the philosophy. But as time went on, I grew to enjoy his scathing sarcasm and increasingly looked forward to his stints on the Daily Show. I bought this audiobook with some anticipation.
The book, however, contains very little of Black's humor and even less of his style and delivery. If you're interested in hearing how yet another comic/entertainer/person of note got to where they are today, by all means pick this one up. You'll get your fill of "growing up" stories and descriptions of a "summer in Europe". But don't expect to laugh.
To answer your question Mr. Black, "Yes, you are funny but no, you cannot write funny."
I was personally quite surprised when this book ended. The premise is quite interesting and the story engaging to start. But then the timeline gets stretched with years flying by while the characters barely change only to end without really wrapping up the loose ends in a meaningful way. Compared with some of N. Stephenson's other works, this story of a nano-future lacked depth.
I got this book after really enjoying "21 Dog Years : Doing Time @ Amazon.com" by Mike Daisey. Covering similar topics, Bing's first-person account of cubicle- and business-life is nevertheless self-absorbed and never truly pulled me. It's too bad that Bing's second chapter educates the listener on b.s.ing... otherwise I might have stayed with it a little longer!
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