I began this audio book knowing roughly what to expect. I knew it wasn't a diet book per se, but that it aimed to be a thinking person's guide to the science behind carb reduction's benefits.
I am a skeptic by nature. I was predisposed to disrespect the book because it was written by a popular science writer as opposed to a PhD or endocrinologist. The first part annoyed me because the author lays out all kinds of anecdotes before attempting to explain the physiological mechanisms.
However, the longer the book went on, the more I could not deny its compelling argument. For myself, I decided to do an experiment on my own body and try the way of eating that Taubes espouses. I'll see for myself if I get leaner and what the diet does to my LDL/HDL numbers. But I consider it a rather long-term experiment, because I'm merely reducing sugars and simple carbs, not eliminating them.
Here are some additional comments:
1. The narrator pronounces "causal" wrong somewhere in the first third of the book. He repeats the error, saying "casual" instead of "causal," which is kind of funny because it has a rather opposite meaning in this context. I almost poked my eye out over the fact that no one caught this mistake. Towards the end he does it again... he says "casualty" instead of "causality"... I was on the plane listening and I think I said something out loud like, "whaaa???" causing my neighbor to look at me funny.
2. Also towards the end, the author just nonchalantly mentions that if you use coffee, diet soda or other artificial sweetners, you may miss the benefits of carb reduction. What? You can't just throw that in there and not tell us why. I'm just sayin'.
Some complained about the length of the book, but for me that feeling only lasted through part I, which I felt dragged a bit. The performances added much to the experience of the novel, given that the various accents (Irish old men, Mario, Miss MacIntyre, etc) were well done and enriched the text. Actually, Mario's narrator made him into a rather Fez-like character from That 70s Show, which wasn't a bad thing.
Negatives: Because of the way the author played with sequence, I didn't find myself unfulfilled by certain glitches in the plot until the end, when I was sure they would never be resolved. SPOILER ALERT (skip the rest of this paragraph if you like): I had a hard time with the following: Where did Skippy get so many of the sedatives? Wouldn't the police have traced that? Did he OD on purpose or not? The police would surely have been more involved in the story behind his death. Also, the very last portion of the book containing the redemption moments fell flat for me; Lori becomes a real person and convinces Ruprecht to live on and be fulfilled? She's going to "help" him? Carl is redeemed somewhat by trying to allow himself to die as pennance? No, really, he's just schizophrenic, right? And finally, Howard is redeemed in the eyes of the school -- no longer a coward -- for running into a burning building to save Carl? Hmm. Don't think so. Still, the lack of real closure on some of these characters didn't hurt the integrity of the novel any more than such failures ever do... I find many of my favorite books a little unsatisfying to me at the end. END SPOILER
Good things: Some real comedy intertwined in the horrors (Greg the Automater, in particular). Excellent portrayals of the crazy world of young boys (and girls) and how they torture and love each other. Satisfying emotional content, and some historical learning material, too. I have no reference point for parochial schools and the sexual frustration borne out of single-gendered environments, but I think it was painted well here. I also think the handling of the characters who considered or perpetrated sexual abuse was nuanced and interesting. In fact, the real villains here were not the those men at all, as it turned out...
I've enjoyed many of these stories, but have found some of them unlistenable due to repeated utterings by the readers -- usually "cue" and sometimes "return to text." If I had the paper version in front of me, I might get a clue as to why, but right now it's annoying as hell.
Gem of Note: Interview 71 (the one referencing Bewitched)... hilarious.
Mindy would be my friend if I knew her. I guess that would make me Mavis. No, wait, I'd be the Mindy and she'd have to be the Mavis!
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