I've read several short things published by the author online and, as a respected professor at M.I.T., found them thoughtful and interesting. But not this rant. Comments of others, here, online and in the press have all been equally disturbing to me.
I'm not "liberal," "libertarian," or "conversative" and strongly dislike political labels. Dr. Chomsky clearly does not share my view.
Whether it be the economy, environment, education, or other concerns there seems to be no middle ground any more. Historically this is not true of America. We've always differed, but have historically found a way to resolve differencers, with "liberal" and "conservative" cycles here and there, but no really dramatic swings in either direction.
But the times they are a changing.
Now we have Dr. Chomsky, Russ Limbaugh and the like and everyone chooses his "true believer," dutifully lines up behind them, always blocking out the "bad" news TV channels or websites, minds closed and in lock step.
I've tried to listen to this book twice from the beginning and never gotten beyond the first fifteen minutes. I've also tried to start out in the middle somewhere with the same result. This book disturbs me like true believers like Russ Limbaugh. We must label and belittle our "enemies" in order to shine the light to the correct path.
I've tried to listen and understand whiy I see so many references to this book. It's been a very frustrating experience all around. I read (not listen to) several dozen books each year and often find them bland and boring, but rarely am I ever as frustrated as I've been with this book.
Beware those who engender only love or hate. This book is supposed to propose ideas which end the cycle of religious wars, racial strife, wars based on economics, and all the other foolish acts of humanity throughout history. Instead it finds a way to engender a new kind of polarization. Richard Nixon had an "enemies list. So does Dr. Chomsky.
While a few of Scott Fitzgerald's early stories are included, his more mature and best short stories were written later. Like his (sometimes) friend, Ernest Hemingway, he was a master at both the long prose form of the novel and also the short story. On the whole many of the stories herein are a bit shallow and similar to the still inexperienced Fitzgerald which wrote This Side of Paradise, not exactly a monument to English literature. I notice another reviewer finds them entertaining. Perhaps when a later collection is one day issued which has the better stories, likely in two parts, the listener will have the opportunity to see Fitzgerald at his best in this genre. For light reading or the curious about the post WWI expatriots (first in American and then on to France) this may be entertaining. I tried listening to them several times and eventually gave it up. Should have known better. I didn't like them in written form and the narrator (not too bad) can breath life into what didn't exist in the first place. Would rate this 2 stars rather than 3 other than the pure entertainment value SOME (not all) may find in getting a (weak) taste of one of the best prose writers in the English language in the 20th century. If you happen to like them come back and give me a thumbs down. If you're not all that impressed, don't blame me. ;) Buy the recording of Gatsby (preferably) or Beautiful and the Damned and you'll get a better taste of what kind of writer Fitzgerald was. Just don't forget to read the books. Decent literature, unlike the 20 best sellers on the NYT list are not something to be experienced merely by listening to them on your iPod.
Papa was pretty particular and sometimes labored over a sentence, let alone a paragraph, for hours at a time and his great forte as perhaps the greatest author of prose in the English language in the 20th century was his literary style, his sparce descriptions, what the rain felt like, looked like, and perhaps what it portended. This is an excellent group of short stories, representative of Hemingway's finer works, with only a few obvious omissions (I'm referring to both Vol 1 and II). They are, however, generally well done and the narrator is capable. But Hemingway is not about "the story" or the theme or the plot of whatever he's writing. My rating of this at 4 stars reflects the disappointment any serious reader of Hemingway will have in not having the written pages before him/her, to read that delightful first sentence which inevitablish introduces each chapter of a novel or a story. Not Hemingway at his best, but if the listener wants a taste these two volumes are a good place to start. But for heavens sake, dear God, please read the written stories too. These make a nice companion for a weekend with a bit of interruption. Listen to one on your iPod and stop, then pick it up and be ready for the next.
No one amongst the English departments of assorted unviersities around the world has likely taken an actual vote, but The Great Gatsby would clearly rank among the best novels in the English language of the 20th century. I personally found the recording a bit flat and would recommend that anyone listening to it at least read the book it itself. I started to rank it a 4 but given the quality of the narrator changed my mind and rated it a five. The generation of the jazz age and flappers is approaching a hundred hundreds in age, but Gatsby will likely be remembered as one of our greatest novels well into the future. I doubt the audio version will seriously disappoint anyone.
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