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Sebastian

East Wallingford, VT, United States | Member Since 2010

33
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 4 reviews
  • 21 ratings
  • 465 titles in library
  • 99 purchased in 2014
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  • Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By Gary Shteyngart
    • Narrated By Ali Ahn, Adam Grupper
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (547)
    Performance
    (289)
    Story
    (289)

    Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, creates a compelling reality in this tale about an illiterate America in the not-too-distant future. Lenny Abramov may just be penning the world’s last diary. Which is good, because while falling in love with a rather unpleasant woman and witnessing the fall of a great empire, Lenny has a lot to write about.

    Ryan says: "Dystopia Now"
    "Our 1984"
    Overall

    Wonderful, entertaining, smart, provocative book that is very well directed and perfectly read by two characters. This book lends itself very well to audio because it's essentially two narrators describing the world. I have recommended this book to everyone I know but be forewarned, the "near-future" described is slightly raunchy and not for the grandmothers of the world.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • East of Eden

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1196)
    Performance
    (1027)
    Story
    (1041)

    This sprawling and often brutal novel, set in the rich farmlands of California's Salinas Valley, follows the intertwined destinies of two families - the Trasks and the Hamiltons - whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

    Suzn F says: "Epic story of Love and Loss"
    "A Greater and Lesser Novel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I would have bet that Steinbeck wrote this long before The Grapes of Wrath because it is the lesser novel, but evidently he wrote this much later. It is too sprawling for even his control and stretches rely on narrative exposition rather than dramatic action or nuanced description. Perhaps it should have been longer still! No doubt my world is enriched for having read this and it is still a masterly work of fiction--it's in the top 500 novels ever but not the top 10 like Grapes of Wrath, and some of the characters will endure long into the future. Thematically more ambitious than Grapes of Wrath, the Cain and Abel structure is enlightening but less meaningful and less tangible than the historical forces at play in Grapes, at least for me. No Steinbeck enthusiast should miss this but a newcomer would be advised to start with Grapes. The reader is excellent and helps shape the experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A George Smiley Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By John le Carre
    • Narrated By Michael Jayston
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (467)
    Performance
    (407)
    Story
    (404)

    The man he knew as "Control" is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn't quite ready for retirement-especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla - his Moscow Centre nemesis - and sets a trap to catch the traitor.

    carl801 says: "Le Carre remains the gold standard"
    "Viscous and Bottomless but Great"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the only book I've ever encountered in which I could never really keep straight the endless characters but never felt that such confusion impinged on my ability to understand the gist of things. Despite the profusion of characters and backstories, the narrative is terse and economical and the author has an expert grasp on pacing and tone. Moreover, the language of the novel casts knowing darts outward from the ostensible spy story toward enduring themes of love, society, democracy, friendship, and institutions in ways more effective than most "deep books". The reader was the best ever. I have already replayed this novel as background music, which is a first for me.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
  • Manufacturing Depression: The Secret History of a Modern Disease

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Gary Greenberg
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne
    Overall
    (21)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Am I happy enough? This has been a pivotal question since America's inception. "Am I not happy enough because I am depressed?" is a more recent version. Psychotherapist Gary Greenberg shows how depression has been manufactured---not as an illness but as an idea about our suffering, its source, and its relief. He challenges us to look at depression in a new way.

    Sebastian says: "Modern Gonzo Tour de Force"
    "Modern Gonzo Tour de Force"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Greenberg blends gonzo journalism, scientific literacy, and wry critical thinking into an engrossing, enlightening, and provocative work of art. Another reviewer called this book a rant but it is the opposite of a rant; the author never repeats himself but instead constantly reassesses his beliefs according to the evidence at hand, tweaking them to conform to his changing experiences. Instead of a rant, the book is a dialectic, a series of conflicts and resolutions, the backbone to a great story. In addition, Greenberg isn't afraid to explore the idea that treating depression with drugs could be yet another concession that democracy makes in the face of advanced capitalism. Greenberg is not a timid writer. He is also astonishingly smart about how to analyze the facts of his subject not only in the best terms that science promises (not mystifying jargon but razor-sharp logic and metacritical rumination) but also in terms of the (frankly fascinating) history of science. I cannot recommend this book highly enough and I an shocked that The Emperor of All Maladies received so much press whereas it was pure chance that I heard about this book. Yes, The Emperor of All Maladies is a very good book, but Manufacturing Depression takes more risks by drawing narrative steam from the engine of the romantic-self and the democratic society rather than the lachrymal-melodrama of the cancer ward.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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