In spite of the rave reviews this book, though very well written (and very well read), takes a cliched plot-line and drives it relentlessly into the ground. Underdog college team with diamond-in-the-rough shortstop prevails against all odds without much adult supervision. The characters are all one-dimensional, the only female in the novel is a mere plot convenience, rolled in and out of the story with mechanical indifference to her presumptive role. Ethically, the novel is a mess. A college president forms a homosexual relationship with a student, and except for some administrative wrist-slapping towards the end, the novel steadily keeps a blind eye on the grotesque power-relationship it is describing. (Put priest in place of president and see if you think well of the book.) Even worse, the novel tries to place itself on the same shelf as Moby Dick! I gather that the author is an admirer of Franzen's Freedom, another novel much praised in spite of its sloshing superficialities.
I should mention that I remain a devoted baseball fan in spite of my reaction here.
Murdoch is in high style in this novel with an engaging story that keeps unfolding against a subtle background of moral philosophy. As in her other books she anchors twisty philosophical issues in a cunning narrative but for anyone with a minimal sense of the subject Murdoch provides both entertainment and enlightenment. For example, it doesn't take much to see that the disheveled, mainly anti-social philosopher of the title is based on Socrates,that the action, mainly set around a second-rate spa in Britain (known as the "Institute") registers the Greek-Roman focus on the town bath as the center of social life. etc. The plot goes a bit off the rails from time to time, and the book is too long for its own good, but I enjoyed it. The reading is very fine.
I was delighted to come across this book by William Boyd. In some ways it is a very simple narrative that follows the life of its main character, a somewhat privileged Englishman, as it unfolds through the twentieth century. But as we journey with Logan Mountstewart, we are taken ever more intimately into his gathering self-awareness while being caught up in the always treacherous historical life of his times. I found it fascinating. The book has been made into a six-part TV series, also fascinating.
Zola's novel is gritty, dramatic, and highly interesting in its portrayal of the deprivations experienced by its out-of-luck characters and the emotional turmoil their situations produce. But Zola seems especially interested in exposing us to every twist and turn in the guilt and cruelty that ultimately destroys nearly every vestige of their humanity. I could have done with 20% less of this novel. However, Kate Winslett's brilliant reading made up for a lot.
Barnes is an extremely intelligent novelist who constructs intricate stories. The intricacy doesn't get in the way; it fascinates. Almost nothing happens in this novel besides some rather difficult failures of connection and communication. Yet Barnes is able to make us feel the consequences of these failures with all the action and transformative energy of a stage drama.
A very unusual book that combines a critical biography (sort of) of Flaubert and an autobiography (sort of) of the narrator. Barnes manages what he's doing without ever becoming stuffy. In fact the narrative is full of lovely surprises. I quite enjoyed it though I'm still not sure I can describe it.
This is a superb biography and you don't even have to be a Styron fan (I'm not) to find it fascinating. The daughter's portrait of her very troubled and demanding father manages somehow to maintain a loving quality within its excoriating account of Styron's bad bargains with his muse. He was clearly a charismatic man, someone who had many famous friends and well-wishers, but he was also demonized by his creative gifts and often unable to connect with his devoted family. The book is beautifully written and the author, who for years trained as an actress, is a very skillful reader.
I was disappointed in this book. Granted, I don't usually read mysteries or police procedurals, but there was much that did attract me to this novel and I truly wanted to like it. But the novel constantly serves up mindless rants and yelling matches which, while appropriate to the dysfunctional family theme it develops, begin to act like at bullhorn at a picnic, drowning out everything of interest. I gave up half-way through.
This is a great novel, but as other reviewers have mentioned, the reader is terrible. The phony American accent is bad enough but it often breaks down into an awful Irish accent! When Audible offers something for a low price, listen to the sample first
This is an exceptionally coherent, balanced, and insightful account of the years leading up to, and then after Ronald Reagan's presidency. I was not a fan of Reagan's nor of recent attempts to immortalize him as a wise seer. But Wilenz gives the man his due while also providing a brisk and memorable narrative of the sour, often heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring years that we have lived through since Carter was president. The reader is excellent. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to look into, or look out from the Reagan years and beyond.
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