I'm not exactly sure what I could say to add to the reviews that have already been written. I should start out by saying that this is not usually the type of book I would buy, but did so on a recommendation of a friend (usually disastrous). Since listening to this book, I have listened to every podcast of "The Tobolowsky Files" and can say that this man has found his true calling as a storyteller, teacher, and entertainer. I am familiar with his work as an actor, as most people are even if they don't know it (one of the recurring themes of the stories). I am a fan from "Californication" which, to me, is some of his funniest, finest work. His ability to open up his life to the reader/listener, both the painful and the triumphant, is astounding. I also highly recommend the movie form of his storytelling "Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party." You get a strange sense that he has lived this life, and been put through these experiences by some higher order for the sole purpose of telling his story and entertaining the world.
These stories are at times hilarious and, at other times, heartbreaking. There are instances where these aren't so easily separated and I found myself laughing through tears. He tells stories of himself as a boy, a boyfriend, an actor, a student, a teacher, an amateur exterminator, a husband, a friend, a drug user, a dog owner, a musician, and a hostage...sometimes all at once. These stories are always fascinating and have a unique sensibility. Even when about something mundane, they are never boring. I'm not sure that I would be willing to open myself up to the world and tell stories which seem so personal and, often times, embarrassing. I am glad the author was willing to do so. Never has encephalitis been so funny.
The book is not a linear autobiography. Instead, it is a collection of stories that often jump in time period, but are ultimately linked. Usually, each story has a theme or lesson he has learned or is retelling through life experience. If this is your first listen to Mr. Tobolowsky, then go one step further and check out the podcast. The stories in this book make up about the first 25 or so podcasts, but the podcasts often include slightly more information, as well as host/author banter. The book, in other words, is a more cleanly edited version of the podcasts with more fluid transitions between stories to try to make them more logically ordered for the reader.
This book could only succeed with the author as a narrator. This narration is more polished then the podcast delivery, which often includes Mr. Tobolowsky laughing out loud or choking up. I appreciate and enjoy the emotion in the podcasts, and, while not completely absent in the book narration, is slightly more controlled. That may or may not be a good thing to some, especially those familiar with the podcast. His voice is full of expression, and you can often tell when he is smiling, frowning, or on the verge of tears, which gives the feeling that he is actually retelling the story and not reading the story.
All in all, a beautiful, rare, and extremely special book that has me reflecting on my family, friends, and life like no other book has. I am stunned by how good this book is and how well it is read. I could not recommend it more.
This has an exciting premise: a reclusive horror director's daughter commits suicide after getting the attention of an investigative reporter who had slandered the director years before. It seems, though, that the author reached a little to far and then, in an attempt to distract from the lacking parts of the characters and description, added the multimedia tie-ins. At least, that's how it felt to me.
The director in this book is supposedly legendary. He made films so horrific they are only available as bootlegs or in secret showings where people that watch them faint, or go insane and such. This is the first problem with the book. What descriptions there are of these movies fall short of anything horrifying. The author makes them sound like crime movies, or dramas. I got zero sense as to why these movies were so horrific.
The characters were fairly plastic, with moments of overkill of characterization. The lead character, Scott, is a investigative reporter who supposedly slandered the director by totally buying into an anonymous phone source that disappeared on him. Not much of a reporter. He is at best, naive, and at worst, a complete idiot. His sidekicks are often annoying, and, thrown in for good measure as a plot device, is an ex-wife and daughter.
There are elements of black magic sprinkled into the book, and, again, it feels more contrived than I believe it was intended, but it is not a central focus of the book. What is the central focus? The story of this director, (who may or may not be into black magic), his daughter (who seems to dabble in black magic), and his movies that this reporter is trying to uncover. At least, I thought that was the central focus.
And here's the worst part. That's not the story you get. You get the story of the reporter working with a couple of accidental assistants as he interviews people, follows leads, irritates his ex, and pretty much annoys everyone. You, the reader, never actual get the story he's after. You never get the story of the director, the truth behind the movies. You get unmercifully close in the last 7 minutes or so, but you never get there.
I'm ultimately unsatisfied at the ending. All of the endings, not to spoil it too much. I think the author is trying to be clever, or edgy. Maybe she hopes that we care so much for the characters that we won't mind. Since the characters are so wooden, poorly fleshed-out, and difficult to like, I do mind. I was just putting up with them to get to the punchline, and it never came.
The tie-in material, articles, webpages and such get transcribed in the book, so if you read through the .pdf that accompanies this title you will hear them again, some of them twice. You can also download an app for you phone to uncover more material. I was not motivated to do so.
The narration was not noticeable as either bad or good, which, to me at least. is a good thing. It's overall, just an average, but lengthy, book. Too bad I never got the story I was promised.
The concept of this book drew me in right away. I normally stay away from glitzy, shiny vampire romance novels and I was somehow not paying enough attention to know that was what I was getting. The premise had the potential to be amazing, perhaps even darkly funny; a shrink dealing with vampires and all the problems that accompany being undead. However, the actual "shrink" part of the book was thin and seemed like an afterthought. This was actually more of a novel about a female character that just happens to be a psychologist.
I also found the main character a little whiny and weak. Her "man troubles" (and she does have man troubles), got a little grating to me. Again, this is not my usual genre so I have no frame of reference, but I felt that the characters were at times childish and immature. If it were toned down some, it would fit right in next to the Harlequin romances.
The story was ok, it wasn't a complete waste of time even though I rolled my eyes a few times because someone was either falling into bed with someone else or thinking of it at every turn. Again, I don't mind sexual content in novels, but the novel seemed to be written for the sole purpose of including such scenes. I think it is missing the shirtless vampire on the cover. This isn't a dark, scary, or introspective novel. It's fast, when the protagonist isn't wondering who she's going to sleep with, and poppy and romantic. Not great to me, just average.
I will admit to this being the Stephen King book I've read the most. As a young teen, I wore out two paperback copies. This is that book that sticks with you after you read it. Not necessarily the entire plot or the outcome, but moments or phrases in the book will stick with you long after you are finished. Pennywise and the teeth at the library. The scene with Bill, Georgie and the boat. The werewolf and the house at Niebolt Street.
As always, Mr. King's characterization shines. It is spot-on and gives each character a unique presence and voice in which you, as the reader, become invested. Each character will remind you of someone, and you think of that bully you had at school, that plump friend, that shy girl that everyone picked on...or maybe you relate to being that character. Pennywise is that nightmare villain that we all have as children...the evil clown that all horror fans know resides in ALL clowns and makes us avoid circuses, red noses, and small cars at all costs. The chills are real, the chases are visceral, and in between the action, the characters never leave us wanting more.
I would like to agree with other reviewers that Mr. King's strong point has never been endings. This book is no different. The ending felt a little disjointed and somewhat of a confusing letdown. A simpler or better explained ending would have sufficed to preserve the evilness of that freaky clown. But, overall, this doesn't detract from the quality of the story and the writing as a whole; the sum of the book more than makes up for that "what the heck" ending because the journey to get there is just so darn good.
The narration is clean, balanced, and well directed. Mr. Weber does and outstanding job bringing these characters to life without overpowering the material. He seems to give the book the credit it deserves with his reading. Narration for such a lengthy, well-know, well-loved book cannot be easy and he succeeds at every level. Very well done.
Fair warning to new listeners/readers: While there are sexually explicit scenes sprinkled throughout the book, there is a very sexually explicit scene among the group as youths. This may put some readers off, so be please be warned that it is there. Otherwise, you can't really go wrong with this book. Strong characters, strong setting, evil villain, and a weird ending end up producing a book about people you believe you know, in a place you believe you've been.
This book was a total surprise for me. The author is blessed with the ability to drive the story with atmosphere and gloom. The story is simple enough on the surface: Man goes to arctic with a team, man must survive the arctic and some unknown presence. But where this novel succeeds so well is the presentation of the environment and the character's reactions to that environment. I was drawn in so completely to that world that I found myself thinking of ways to get out of the predicament. The protagonist is likeable and sympathetic. The dread slowly builds until it is almost unbearable. I am surprised by the chill I got a couple of times, as this is something rare for me. I consider myself a jaded horror lover, but, whether the writing or the narration, I was 'gotten' a few times.
I would say that the crafting of the atmosphere was similar to "The Terror" by Dan Simmons. Only a shorter, quicker read with a better payoff. The description of the cold and the hardships the men faced in that barren, secluded area only added to the desperation and sense of isolation. I found myself just as interested in the mechanics of survival in an environment most of us will never see. The dog as a companion worked well and lessened the fear that the main character was slowly going insane from freezing, cabin fever, imagination based on local legend, and oatcake overdose and that, instead, there was something really wrong. The burn was slow at first and then gained speed until it reached an, ultimately, satisfying (at least for me) ending.
I can say I loved this book. I have not read any other works by the author, but will when her historical fictions have a twinge of the supernatural. This book started slowly and some may be put off by the initial story/character setup. It is not fast paced or action driven, at least at first, but when the thrill comes, it comes out of nowhere and puts you on edge for the rest of the book.
I have slowly become a fan of this author. I started with "The House of Lost Souls" which, honestly, I could take or leave due to the meandering plot and slow pace. I gave him another chance with "Magdalena's Curse" and "The Waiting Room." I have since read/listened to all the author's other works, and, in my opinion, this is his best.
I was snagged right away by the opening chapter. It gave just enough information to keep a horror addict like myself engaged. While the story had a simple enough Roanoke-style premise, the story itself wasn't the hook that kept me engaged. Mr. Cottam seems to have a gift for fleshing out characters to the point of either loving or hating them. Either way, you are interested in what happens to them. I found myself annoyed at times with the attention given to character over plot, but I can chalk that up to my own impatience at wanting to see how characters at another location were behaving or getting along or dying. While I appreciated this development by the end of the book, fair warning, it can be a little slow for those looking for "'popcorn horror." There is an element of romance, but it is not the center element of the story and doesn't detract from appreciation for the creepy, doomed atmosphere.
The ending was supremely satisfying and heroic, especially for a horror novel. I found myself smiling despite the death toll. Again, I can attribute this to character development and the care the author puts into each. The narrator was exceptional, and read so well that the story shined through. I would recommend this to anyone who like horror or adventure. Maybe even romance novels.
It doesn't seem to ever be a good idea to read your own work. I took a chance, and just couldn't listen to this. The narration is so off-putting as to be distracting (to me, anyway). An interesting premise that might have been a good story, but I just couldn't get past the presentation.
As a narrator, Peter MacNicol has ruined me. He is the measuring stick for all other narrators. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this audiobook considering it was abridged. Beautiful imagery, honest characters and a powerful story of youth, confronting, and, ultimatly accepting your past, and the mellowing of age. Great read/listen and I highly recommend it.
This is terrible. It is read by the author, and he does such an awful job of reading his own work, that it is impossible to listen. He stumbles over words, mispronounces and then has to correct himself, pauses and restarts. Don't bother with this.
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