Animal Farm, though being an obvious allegory for Stalinist Russia, contains wisdom and symbolism applicable to, perhaps, all societal conditions. There is very little of rich character development here, yet there is something so deeply familiar about this simplified world. Orwell is not afraid of using stereotypes as a means of getting at truth; and I believe that he is successful. His story is not only politically convincing, but it also manages to grip the reader in unexpected ways. I experienced deep sadness and frustration while reading this weird little story about talking animals.
While seemingly silly in content, the story manages also a very dark melancholy from which it never rises. There is no happy ending to Animal Farm. It brings us to a place different in physical description from the opening state of things, and yet so similar in feeling; a feeling mostly dark and discouraging. But there is good here too, and that good is the importance of awareness. The biggest flaw of the animals on Animal Farm seems to be a lack of awareness, and this flaw brings them out of, through, and back to the same state of misery. I don't think Orwell believed that this cycle would ever end; there will always be a Napoleon and the pigs. But there are also always tools available for a fight, and the most important tool is awareness.
Wonderful. This was a great book and I loved it. Thanks so much, God, for writing it.
I thought this short novel was fantastic. The plot is quite thin and easy to grasp: Tom Carmody, an Earthling, mistakenly receives a prize in the Intergalactic Sweepstakes. Having been teleported to a far-off planet, he is left stranded with little knowledge of how to return. He then travels from planet to planet, and from dimension to dimension, in search of home.
Along the way, he encounters a strange City, one of my favorite parts. It seems uninhabited, until the City itself begins to speak and interact with Carmody. It explains that it was built to facilitate health and comfort in the lives of its citizens. Carmody wonders why no one currently lives in the City, but he accepts the comfort that it provides him; or, rather, that it insists upon him. And though the City may have good intentions, Carmody soon finds that its nagging perfectionism and constant "suggestions" are overwhelmingly annoying.
Carmody eventually refuses to listen to the City. He understands that, for example, the costs of smoking a cigarette far outweigh the benefits; but there comes a point where Carmody's ability to make a choice becomes more important to him than the effects of the choices he makes. The intelligent City reveals something beautifully complex about people: even with clear evidence that a certain choice is the most correct or logical, a person is driven to maintain a sense that their choice (whatever it may be) is possibly the right one, even if it is quite apparently wrong.
Absurd yet enlightening moments like this make Dimension of Miracles an engaging and fulfilling listen. Narrator John Hodgman does a fantastic job as well. He gives a relatable exasperation to the main character and an ironic realism to all of the extraterrestrials he meets. It's quick, it's funny, and it really caught my ear.
I wish the publishers had just stuck with the original title of this book (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?). Although, I understand that sales are most likely increased because of its increased association with the popular movie, Blade Runner. Still, the original title is so much better! It literally poses a question, and it is so satisfyingly frustrating because by the end of the novel, you have no answers; only more questions.
The questions that this book tackles are difficult, and the way Dick attempts (and just manages to attempt) these questions is well-rounded; topics such as atheism versus theism and reality versus unreality (or perhaps surreality). They're handled with elegance and the beauty of imperfection and incompletion. The attempt to answer only leads to more questions. And such fantastic questions.
For a science fiction novel, it's also pretty accessible. Dick takes a lot of pointers from the noir and detective fiction genres; there's a lot of satisfying action alongside the difficult, intellectual subject matter.
As for the audiobook, the narrator is much too slow. Listening to him on 3x speed sounded like the normal speed of most narrators. But he was good, otherwise. Don't let it deter you from listening.
This was a very funny, light read. I must admit, I pre-judged the quality of the book by the sound of the author/narrator's voice. However, she turned out to be a lot more interesting, and hilarious than I expected. I'm a big fan of vulgarity and impropriety for their own sakes, and this book is filled with anecdotes with those qualities. Though I do wish she had gone a little deeper and a little darker into her experience with the diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder and OCD. There were a few really visceral moments that brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to really understand her psychological condition (e.g. how she carried her miscarry for over a month, leading to an emotional breakdown). I wanted more of those. But, for the most part, I was happy with the quality of uncomfortable, though light-hearted and funny, story-telling.
As always, my listening experience was enhanced because the author read her own work.
These are pretty good kids' stories; they're creative, funny, quirky, and relatable (in that kids love food). However, they lacked something that could have made them more creative. I think I disliked the bookends of realism; I disliked that Chewandswallow was merely a fantasy. Then again, the world of the Wild Things in Where The Wild Things Are is just as much a fantasy. Yet, it feels much more real than the fantasy land of these stories. I think most kids would enjoy them though. I just don't think they'll be the kinds of stories remembered vividly in later life.
Also, the male narrator was great, but the female narrator (especially in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) was really annoying.
Finally, The Hobbit comes to Audible! This is my first time delving into this book in many years. I think I may have enjoyed it more in audio than I did in print. It's most certainly a story meant to be read aloud. It relies heavily on "storytelling" conventions. Listening to Rob Inglis feels like being a child again, hearing stories told by your grandfather while sitting comfortably at his feet. While it isn't as dark or gripping as The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (it can be rather goofy at times, though in an endearing way), it is a great story in its own right; a light prequel to the epic masterwork that followed.
My second review of a Maria Bamford Audible Audio Program! This is an excellent addition to her repertoire. Her depressive and derealistic view of everyday life seems almost like therapy; and I love being her therapist. Her voices are incredible as ever; jarring, accurate, and hilarious. There's nothing like being inside of her head for an hour; though don't stay too long. You may go insane.
Again, if you enjoy this, watch The Maria Bamford Show on YouTube!!!
Maria Bamford's weird, absurdist sense of humor is wonderfully dark, intimate, and hilarious. She has fantastic insights into the strange minutiae of every day interactions. She is a wizard when it comes to accurately expressing the awkwardness and weirdness of people that only an expert derealist can manage. If you like this, I highly recommend The Maria Bamford Show on YouTube!
This book’s reputation as a classic (sadly, one that is force-fed to teenagers and whose value thus diminishes) certainly precedes it. And though it is a deeply profound and complex story, one certainly deserving of that word, “classic”, when approached from the simplest perspective, it is still just a very good story. Steinback’s language is never pretentious or lofty. He uses the vernacular of the characters about whom he writes, and he surrounds this vernacular with a strong but subtle narrative voice.
The narrator of the audiobook is one of the best I’ve listened to. His command of the varying tones of the characters’ voices is evocative of Steinbeck’s narrative style. The melancholic subtleties of his voice in the story’s tearjerking conclusion absolutely destroyed my afternoon (in the best of ways).
I purchased this book after a glowing review from a customer, and I correctly predicted the experience that I would have while listening. I hadn't thought that this book was a book for me, and I was right. So why even choose to listen? Well, I think it's important to read not only for my own entertainment and self-satisfying education, but also to understand the tastes of others; listeners much different than me.
So I listened to it, and it was fine. It is quite good for what it is: a satisfying and entertaining story that is easy to listen to and comprehend. It's not really in any way literary, and it's not so completely profound. There were a few moments, a few ideas that made me think, but on the whole it was just a story. A rather good story; well-crafted, but it didn't engage my interests. The whole atmosphere of the book turned me off, In fact, it was almost empty of atmosphere. Although there are some good descriptions of nature, but nature, in literature, seems to be the easiest thing to describe artfully.
I think I may have darker tastes, and this story is very light; often comical. The descriptions can get a little annoying with their trite, poetic beauty. The narrator doesn't help with this as he emphasizes and elongates these words; an eye-roller. Otherwise the narrator was great. He did a wonderful job giving character to so many voices, many with accents.
Don't let my rating turn you off if you're a lover of light fiction; this could be for you. And I completely understand and approve of it's appeal to certain people (not that you need my approval, unless you do, and if you do you should work on that cuz jeez, live your own life, do what you want to do).
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