Those of us who've been listening to PHC for several decades recognize as familiar old friends pretty much every thread in this story, but we don't mind. It's the human condition. Some people complain about Garrison's deadpan delivery on this audio book, but not those of us who love him...his mere voice reminds of us a generous, quirky view of life that comes along with it.
The author bravely bares much of her family life, her work life, and her physical struggles with ALS. She is a courageous reporter on the crime beat for her newspaper for 20 years, until she can no longer make it up and down the courthouse steps without falling. Unlike some who might stop working before that humiliating point, she does not. We begin to see she's like that throughout all the domains of life, including this writing.
Many parts of this rather short memoir are full of juice, others are a little flat, obviously padded out to complete the book she was rushing to publish before she could no longer communicate. She typed much of this book on an iPhone, using only 1 finger, so who am I to complain about any of it, including the fact that it feels like this was a magazine article stretched out to become a book.
The writing itself is good. It's the content that left me feeling there was a point in her life after being diagnosed with ALS where she started pushing friends and family into colorful situations in order to create material to write about, and the material suffers for this.
She's careful to not invade the privacy of her husband and children too much, and so we see them only glancingly, and only in specific anecdotes. One of the most fascinating aspects of her story might have been how a marriage relationship endures, changes, suffers, or grows in such a struggle, but she avoids that mostly, and it leaves a yawning gap in the picture.
But clearly, this memoir screams the message that she is doing ALS and end-of-life on her own terms, and so she does. Despite its flaws and gaps, the book is compelling reading.
Shades of brown and black, relieved only by the stark white light shining upon the too-frequent masturbation scenes. Characters you don't even want to like, let alone care about. I persevered through the entire ~5 hours, which seemed like 20, and nothing improved. There is a strange plot twist at the end, but it feels absolutely meaningless, since it involves characters we know virtually nothing about. On the up side, the narrator is great. I just hope he didn't feel suicidal after spending so much time with this author's work.
The author seems to have run out of energy and now feels it's ok to make a novel out of one sentence: "This is my destiny, to mother a king." Waste of time & money.
Elizabeth Berg's narration sparkles with each character's different voice, catching the local inflections and the personality tones just perfectly. Her story is totally engaging, though yes, I'll admit the characters she chooses to highlight include some of the extremes of high school categories, but they are played out to realistic perfection, and the situations are moving as well as thought-provoking. I found the overcoming of challenges uplifting rather than depressing, and I had to laugh out loud at the way one particularly bitchy woman talks to herself inside her head. A very entertaining listen, over too soon.
Lauren Weedman is hilarious! She writes with side-splitting accuracy about life and work and love and everything, and she narrates the book herself with the zing that only a professional actor, which she is, can give. Why is her name still such a secret? She is an incredibly talented writer and performer, and I'm certain we're going to see more comedy from her. Don't let the fact that you haven't heard of her stop you from getting and savoring this funny, funny book. And I found her website where you can see clips of her doing other pieces. The one where she portrays a woman trying to videotape herself doing a little striptease dance as a birthday present for her boyfriend is killer.
Garrison Keillor said that "The Red & The Black" was his favorite novel, and he's a hero of mine, so I gave this a try, I really did. I'm a great fan of audio books; have read at least 400 of them from various sources, and have given up on only a handful. This is one of the handful. I realize that it's from another culture in time and place, so I knew it might not be a quick, easy read. But sheesh! Feels like slogging through mud. Too bad. Any study tips, Garrison? Or, perhaps later, in my dotage....
Not McLynn's finest writing, but an interesting and enjoyable listen, especially if, like me, you have a hard time finding novels that don't feature murder, mayhem, & gratuitous porn. This piece is narrated by McLynn herself, and she is a professional actor, so it's well done, with perfect emphasis in all the right places, in a brogue that is mostly easily understandable for an American listener. The only quibble I have is that her voice is breathy and therefore difficult to hear in a noisy environment. McLynn's more recent book, "Bright Lights & Promises," is definitely a 5-star read.
Wayyy better than the bare chick-lit plot outlined in the publisher's summary. In the best tradition of witty British humor, with wry observations on modern life, packed with juicy little character studies featuring people in the theater industry. I listened again and again and found more to chuckle over with each new hearing. Made me go looking for more by McLynn. Great narration adds to the enjoyment.
Fascinating, lively meditations on love, gender, what sex means; all rolled up with info on a sexual genetic defect, into an engrossing saga of the individuals in a messy family over some thirty years. At first you think that "the condition" is merely a genetic problem that the little girl suffers from, and gradually you begin to see that each of the characters has their own "condition," with which they each struggle. And, though the novel is a story of problems, it doesn't feel dark. There is some cheer. People do evolve. Transformations are made. And the narrator is excellent. A note, though, for anyone wanting to use this audiobook in a noisy environment, as I attempted to: the narrator uses a breathy voice that is pleasant for listening but which does not carry well in competition with noise. Save this good book for a quiet place.
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