San Anselmo, CA, United States | Member Since 2006
Matthew Quick has accomplished several amazing things here, and it's really hard to list them all. First, he has documented the nature of mental illness in general and bipolar disorder in fine detail, the first book (in my experience) to do this in novel form. Second, he has drawn a terrific, touching love story between two people who are both fragile and suffering from loss. They are both determined, nonetheless, to find the "silver linings" in life. Three, he has depicted a suffering family which is trying to cope with a deeply disturbed, isolated and enraged father. Fourth, he has portrayed the love story between a community and its football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. The passion that the fans have for their team is almost unimaginable in its ferocity, a love that many men understand and many women cannot. If you are a woman, just think of sports as male emotionality. Fifth (I am counting) he has depicted a very unusual relationship between a therapist and his patient. Cliff, the psychiatrist who follows Pat after his four-year involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital, is also a raving Eagles fan, who delights in jumping out of his chair and doing the Eagles chant. When Pat is puzzled by this (as who wouldn't be), Cliff says, "When I sit in this chair, I am your therapist. When I get out of this chair, I am your friend and fellow Eagles fan." Can you imagine any psychiatrist, if you know any, who could do such a thing?
I have lost track of all that Mr. Quick has done here, but, trust me, it is an awe-inspiring thing. For one in the profession (I am a psychologist), it is all the more astounding. That the book works so well on all of these levels, and more, is just a pleasure. I think Mr. Quick is a young author, and I hope we will hear more from him.
Mr. Porter does a great job with this challenging material. Serious mental illness is frightening, and both these men have done a wonderful job of conveying the torment that these patients suffer. Even so, the book is uplifting. If you have seen the movie, you know that it is wonderful as well, but it is quite different.. A movie has much different rules than a book, and it just can't convey the richness of this work of fiction. The book may be hard to listen to at times, as Mr. Quick does not pull any punches, so just put it down for a while and then come back to it. The book and the movie combined have contributed to the process of destigmatizing mental illness, which is all very much to the good. I am preaching here, so I will stop. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
The above is a quote from Robert B. Parker, a guy who should know. I am now in the process of reading all of Mr. Perry's novels, and I am sad to say that there are only a couple left. The man is remarkable, and again, Michael Kramer is the perfect voice for these amazing books. Mr. Perry is the opposite of formulaic. His creativity and inventiveness seem to know no bounds. This book starts with a killing, and takes almost the whole book to solve it. Through the book we get to know a number of people who are so much flesh and blood that we might actually know them in real life. The villains, however, are so scary that we are glad not to know them. Each time I listen to one of these, I just can't imagine how Mr. Perry is going to top this one, and yet, he does. At times here the suspense is literally unbearable. The plot quickens to the point where I had to put it down to make it last longer, if you understand. I was tempted to just sit and listen to the whole thing, but summoned up enough will power to let it be. Once again Mr. Perry writes with wit that is sometimes understated and sometimes just hilarious. He skewers a rich man who is also a monster, and also his sycophantic wife, and their lives of sheltered unreality. This man hires a killer to stalk the wife of the detective who dies at the beginning, and the contest between the two of them is a war of wills and wits. Emily is another extremely well drawn woman, something which Mr. Perry does easily while other male writers struggle with their inability to write nothing but cardboard women. At first I thought that The Butcher's Boy could not be topped. Now I know that Mr. Perry's talents are truly limitless. Enjoy yourselves. Mr. Perry cannot be beat.
Robert B. Parker was one of this country's most prolific authors, in league with Elmore Leonard. Like Leonard, he simply wanted to entertain us, and he succeeded almost every time out. Likewise, Michael Prichard was an amazingly prolific performer (and may still be). And Joe Mantegna is also an incredibly prolific and likable actor and narrator. Choosing between these two narrators is like trying to choose between the best apple pie and the best peach pie: very hard to do. In Sixkill, Parker again puts Spenser in his usual slot: a very tough guy on the outside with a very tender inside. The dialogue is, as always, witty and brief. You start chuckling right out of the gate. Mantegna seems to have a little more trouble with the repetitive "he said, she said" stuff than Prichard. I seem to notice that less when hearing Prichard. Mantegna, OTOH, is a face many of us know from movies and TV, and his voice is that of a friendly guy who might live next door to you, who happens to be one of the best storytellers anywhere. The plot of Sixkill is really just an excuse for Spenser to act, to play the tough guy when he wants to and the tender lover of Susan Silverman when he needs to. Not that the plot is trifling: it is clever and tugs at your heartstrings, in some ways. Sixkill is a huge Indian who once played great football, but then fell down a terrible slide. Spenser takes him on as a project, and between Spenser and the talk-about-tough-but-silent Hawk, they reclaim Sixkill in a way that is very humane and caring. Parker was a genius. Both Prichard and Mantegna make him sound wonderful. I have only tried to listen to one book narrated by David Dukes, and I hated it. Sit down with Parker and have a great time.
This is Mr. Perry's first book, originally published in 1982. Although it's a little dated (a full gas tank, 12 gallons, for $10!) that is the only flaw I can find. Michael Connelly, one heck of a writer himself, has written an introduction to the book, which accurately describes Perry's awesome talent and assuredness. Connelly uses the word "velocity" as a description of plots that delight us, and this is the perfect word for Perry's plot. There are only two main characters, the unnamed professional hitman, and the Justice Department agent Elizabeth Weiser, plus many other characters. Perry cleverly alternates chapters between these two characters to hold our interest, and this is a very successful suspense device. The book flies by. The hitman takes on the Las Vegas mafia families single-handedly, and you believe that he can manage it. He is no non-human superhero, though. He is believable in every way. Likewise, Elizabeth is also a real human being, in the field reluctantly for the first time, and simultaneously doubtful and self-confident. You just have to read Perry's work to see how smoothly he creates these characters. He also sees Las Vegas as what it is, or was thirty years ago. The narration is flawless. Mr. Kramer understands the writer, and has narrated all of Mr. Perry's books. He is fluid and entertaining. He builds the suspense for us. You can never guess the plot's twists and turns. You will at one moment fully suspect that someone with a gun will sneak in the door, and then Mr. Perry surprises you. Even Elizabeth is surprised and hoodwinked. This is a terrific book, and I am sure that I will eventually listen to all of Mr. Perry's books. Great entertainment!
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