Mark Meadows did an admirable job of distinguishing between the many characters in The Luminaries with various accents and tones. Even the women came off well, each pleasingly voiced in their unique way. It is the story itself that kept my head spinning. Without the artifice of the astrological signs, longitudes, latitudes, etc. it is still quite a puzzle to solve. I needed a book in front of me for reference.
As a child I would sneak and read my aunt's secret cache of True Detective, Detective Stories, etc. Reading this book is like that and I get that exact same feeling I had then - the thrill of doing something forbidden leading to a sick feeling of revulsion after reading the material. The author has compiled murder stories and presented them in the same lurid fashion of those pulp magazines all the while decrying the press of the time (1930's). The narrator has the ideal radio reporter kind of voice. Not quite Walter Winchell but similar. I bought the audio on impulse on a Daily Deal. "Extra, Extra, read all about it." Got what I paid for. It passed the time on a long road trip but I kept wanting it to be over.
Despite it's propaganda tone, Oil! enlightens the workers' plight in the first decade of the 20th century and how Communism seemed a viable solution. The story of capitalism at it's worst is told through the eyes of a self-made millionaire oilman's son. Sympathetic to the laborers' mistreatment, Bunny (yes, Bunny) Ross tries to help without betraying his beloved father. The book was written in 1925 which explains the idealization of this brand new idea fresh out of Russia. You see the rise of the labor unions, the corruption at all levels of government, the control of the press but, most fascinating of all, the birth of the oil industry. The book could have easily been titled Greed!. I am not sorry I listened to it however heavy handed it was. I would love to know what the public reaction to it was back then. Given the author's description of the absolute power of those in charge I am surprised it even was published.
This has been one of the most moving audible experiences I have ever had. I am sure that Cry, the Beloved Country was on my high school reading list for extra credit. I may have even read it or started to. I have no memory of it.
On the page, the simple, quiet Zulu way of speaking must have looked boring to these inexperienced eyes. It is told from the point of view of a rural father in search of his son gone to the big city in the era of South African apartheid. I probably could not relate at all at 17. What a revelation it has been to me now. I now appreciate the artistry of the writing, the clarity of feeling, the heartbreak of all involved. It is a masterpiece brought to life by Michael York beyond anything my mind could have created, even now, left to it's own devices.
The premise I had heard for this novel sounded too fantastical for my tastes (a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat?) but when it came up for the "deal of the day" I decided to give it a try. What a pleasure I had denied myself. I am convinced having it read to me made a huge difference in the enjoyment as the narrator's skill and accent put me across the table from Pi himself. And what an enthralling storyteller that young man is. Thank you, Audible, for tempting me to leap beyond my comfort zone. This novel deserves the praise it has received.
I do not consider raising my anxiety level to the max by putting me in the midst of the most hopeless and unlovable family I have ever come to know entertaining. If this is a true representation of " the American society and the American soul" we are doomed. The author is amazingly skilled at his ability to portray believable characters. The problem for me was I didn't want to know them. I didn't even want to face the possibility people as despairingly undone as this are among us. I was never more glad when this ended and I could leave their world. The narrator did a fine job of conveying the utter doom of the whole story. As gifted as he is, I fear to read anything else by Franzen. There could be knives too available nearby.
I chose this title because I so enjoyed another book read by Will Patton. Again, he effortlessly brings life to a wide range of characters in this story of nuclear holocaust aftermath. Written over 50 years ago it feels as if it could have been last week as the results would be the same. With all our technology we are still dependent on the good will of each other in the end. How people survive or don't in the face of enormous challenge is told through the story of the Bragg family. I came to care for 13 year old Ben Franklin as well as his Uncle Randy and many other residents of the ironically named Fort Repose, Florida. Human nature is explored in all it's ugliness and resilience. Racial divides collapse as skills trump color in an emergency. A satisfying read, I mean "listen", on many levels. Chilling and yet heartening.
I added this title to my list after my granddaughter of 12 told me she had read it. I was somewhat horrified knowing the violent premise of the story. With prejudices in tow, I began listening as the 24 children were being selected to fight to the death in a televised event. It wasn't long before I was rooting for the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, and understanding why this book has been so popular among teens and even pre-teens like my granddaughter. Katniss is a level-headed, smart, brave, selfless young woman who is NOT boy-crazy and even better NOT boy-dependent. The games themselves are all I feared - cruel, gory and creatively deadly. Many moral issues come into play as the story progresses. We will have a lot to discuss on her next visit.
Carolyn McCormick does a good job of inhabiting Katniss and her peers but is least successful with the adults. There is an unnecessary "over-the-top" portrayal of many of them. Fortunately, the focus is on the youth and their struggles to stay alive in a very dangerous future world.
It's a man's world and women are just it's useful by-products. Let them read? Certainly not. It might give them ideas. Allow them to converse? Even worse. Reproductive vehicles are their only value in this sterile future. Margaret Atwood creates a chilling world brought to life through the eyes of one handmaid, a quaint euphemism for "baby factory". Her terror, her frustration, her despair are vividly portrayed through the facile voice of the very talented Claire Danes. I feared the familiarity of her voice would be a distraction but she totally inhabits this fully realized character as well as the various voices of the other men and women in this frightening "tale". It could never really happen, right?
How to review this book without preaching to the choir and putting off the naysayers to climate change. Maybe those numbers are fewer now but this story is a call to action for all of us. Cloaked in the engaging tale of a smart woman stuck in Podunkville USA and longing to get out is the amazingly accessible theme of what is happening to our planet and why. The author is the narrator and does her heroine, Dellarobia, and her other characters proud. She doesn't ladle on the Southern accent as she inhabits the voices of the local folk. Refreshingly, they are not painted with the all-to-often broad brush of ignorance but as people struggling to make ends meet as best they can. Because they get their strength from their faith they consider the unexpected convergence of millions of butterflies to their Tennessee mountain as a blessing from God. This story offers a respectful conversation between those seeing the alarming aspects of it from a scientific point of view with those who have little information about the usual habits of these beautiful creatures. There is hope for our future in the heartbreakingly real kindergartener, Preston, who longs to know about nature and the world. But every flawed character becomes dear as the listener is given time to get to know them.
I wish I could give this book to everyone I know.
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