William Manchester has written a wonderful, 40-year epic history of the United States, very dense with details that you can easily visualize. The narrator of this audiobook speaks very fast, perhaps trying to fit all 1300 pages into a predetermined recording space. Because of the rapid-fire information that's coming at you, you have to pay attention to what's being said even more than usual; so when the numerous skips and other technical problems occur, the experience becomes incredibly frustrating. Especially since the skips obscure information that the listener needs in order to understand the context of what comes next. Personally, I wish I had never bought this recording.
The recording has high production values, an understandable pace, and a good narrator. This is a part of the Civil War that I find fascinating- before either army really gets its act together and figures out how to coordinate the movement of seventy thousand or a hundred thousand soldiers. Sears is particularly effective in chronicling McClellan's deteriorating state of mind and its brutal effects on the Army of the Potomac. But nobody really shines in this chronicle- even Lee, who had not yet developed his style of command to an effective level.
When Gilroy and Herron adapted this novel for the screen, they had their work cut out for them. This book needs a good editor in the worst way. Ludlum repeats dialogue whenever he needs a crutch to get him to the next sentence. His characters, including Bourne himself, have oddly inconsistent motivations. There are details that the author tells us and promptly forgets. The villains are mostly sub-Bond cartoon characters.
Scott Brick's narration is usually competent- I found his rendering of characters and accents consistent- but it has no energy to it. I felt like I was being read a ponderous history tome. It was a very unfortunate choice, given the quality of the writing.
The Onion's weekly Presidential addresses in 2008 gave me the strength to overcome the loss of my job amidst an economic meltdown. It was comforting to know that someone with compassion in his heart and lots of dough in his pockets was looking down on me from the White House. And now that Destined for Destiny has been recorded for the ages, I feel even more comforted. Because these tales must be told. Otherwise, who will know about the reduction in the werewolf population in Texas? Who will understand how George Bush saved our great nation from takeover by the machines? Or from reanimated corpses?
Personally, I feel that this audiobook go a long way towards removing any doubt from the minds of the naysayers who think that a man who runs several businesses into the ground isn't capable of running the country into the ground as well...
Hey, guys! It's the Rapture!
Marc Thompson's characters, rendered with top-notch production quality, music, and sound effects, gave me the feeling that I was listening to an audio drama. Timothy Zahn has written a few scenes that, in this production, have some of the same feel of the original Star Wars trilogy. The dialogue of Han and Lando is often entertaining. New characters Thrawn and Jade were fairly interesting. Luke and Leia, although not very well drawn, were put into situations that make the listener care about their survival. I finished the book wishing that unabridged versions such as this were available for the second and third books of the trilogy as well.
I've listened to around 200 audiobooks so far, and the performance of many narrators has been excellent, but none have stood out like Kenneth Danzinger does in this reading of Tom Jones. This material could be deadly dull in the wrong hands-one shudders to think of what Frederick Davidson/David Case would have done to the 18th century prose. Danzinger, by his firm command of the language, brings Fielding's humor to the fore. At least two episodes were laugh-out-loud funny, and many, many more made my commute a thing of joy. I put off reading or listening to this for a long time, afraid that it would be another Don Quixote, full of irrelevant topical references strung together by a dull satire. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Fielding covers a lot of territory in his novel, and is not too particular about how he introduces a topic he wants to cover, but it's always an animated, even illuminated, conversation, read to us by a first-rate performer.
This book enriched my understanding of the experience of African-Americans more profoundly than any work of fiction or nonfiction has been able to do. Wilkerson has done an unsurpassed job of illuminating the dynamics of race in all parts of the United States, throughout the twentieth century. The comparisons she makes with the experiences of other immigrants fleeing oppressive conditions around the world made the narratives of the Great Migration much more relatable than they otherwise might have been. These narratives, three biographies that run throughout the book, make for compulsive listening, ably complemented by broader historical background.
If you haven't already read Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy, I highly recommend skipping this program and doing so. If you are already familiar with these novels, however, and perhaps have some nostalgia for the pleasure they gave you, this program is a decent way of bringing back good memories. If you are a fan of "Old Time Radio" as well, and do not mind the unimaginative electronic music used to transition between scenes or stories, I think you'll really enjoy this program.
The script is excellent, aided by the fact that these "novels" consist of several short stories and novellas. Very little feels missing, and the "retro" quality of Asimov's writing is not slicked over as a script doctor might feel compelled to do. There are a few dramatic climaxes that never occurred, such as the end of "The Encyclopedists" and in the middle of "The Mule," when the producers are reluctant to interrupt Hari Seldon's speech even though a panic and a riot are supposed to be taking place.
Rabbit, Run is not an uplifting novel, and despite all the talk of Christ and spirituality, it is not terribly enlightening, either. What John Updike gives us, however, is a priceless, ruthless portrait of youth- complete with its vitality, vigor, and arrogance. By design, Harry Angstrom isn't a likable character; he hurts nearly everyone who loves him as he tries to sort out his life. Or maybe you do like him, despite yourself, and become implicated in his domestic tragedy.
As always, Updike's prose is note-perfect. When he deals with sexuality, he does so with such objective remoteness that one feels like the viewer of a 1960s foreign film, where titillation is chilled by artistry.
Anyone who has listened to Professor McWhorter's Teaching Company lectures knows that he is an excellent communicator who often has something worth communicating. Unfortunately, in this book he presents three or four ideas and spends hour after hour of your life repeating them to you. Apparently, if I was a professional linguist I would be bent over in paroxysms of rage at the heresies the author serves to us in this book. Since I am not, and everything sounds like common sense worked out over and over again, I was left counting the minutes until the end. Not recommended.
Only long acquaintance with and respect for LA Theatreworks could have persuaded me to listen to Sinclair Lewis. I'm glad it did. The week I spent in the company of this novel, gussied up with the trappings of "Old Time Radio," was never dull. Many lines that would have seemed stale on the page were vividly brought to life by a parade of great performers. There's a somewhat heavy-handed treatment about conformity and individualism in Babbitt, but it's tempered by Lewis' even-handed critical eye for all walks of life- the conformists are a nasty lot, and the rebels aren't very attractive either. As you get to the end, just as you begin to wonder whether to give up on society in general for good, Lewis gives you an ending that leaves you with a big grin and a ray of hope. Highly recommended.
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