This book is poorly written, repetitious, with hackneyed language. It attempts to paint a personal picture of Jobs, but ends up by reading like an overlong Vanity Fair article. There is a germ of a fascinating story here, but the Second Coming is not up to the potential.
There is simply nothing like this novel for its modest, truthful, loving, and poetic view of human activity. It is wonderfully read by Flo Gibson, and the audiobook is absorbing from beginning to end.
One caveat, though, like many British writers of his time, Trollope has clearly anti-semitic views. Not as vile or extreme as Shakespeare or Dickens, but the implicit and casual anti-semitism might be unacceptable for some readers. I am jewish and I can deal with it, but I can imagine others finding it intolerable.
This is one of the finest audio titles that I have had the pleasure to hear in more than a decade of listening. I had not been familiar with Russell Banks beyond having heard the name, but I had Liberian friends who lived through the disastrous past two decades. The Darling's premise is not very promising: the first person telling by radicalized daughter of privilege (sorry for all the "pr's"...) of the horror of the Liberian collapse. As it turns out, Russell Banks paints a complex portrait of a woman with all her contradictory impulses who penetrates into the "heart of darkness." I found it delicate, moving, even funny. The reading is superb, not intrusive but colorful and varied. I can't recommend this highly enough.
This is a mixed bag. The protagonist treads the border between attractive and insufferably smug, with her pilates, ibook, and "allergy" to trendiness. The plot similarly is on the edge of sophisticated and bone-headed with a gee-whizness about technology combined with embarassing ignorance (a "render farm" with dozens of people rendering video full time?) It also could have used better editing, as there are many verbal ticks that find their way into the text repeatedly.
All that aside, its a good listen, worth the time, and very well read.
I came to this book with no preconceptions about its content or character. I was drawn into the reading by the surefooted characterizations, the pithy and epigrammatic language, and the general good humour and balance of the author's voice. It doesn't dig all that deep, but it is very cheering. If you are looking for an engaging and well-told story that spans a few generations of interesting everyday people, I recommend Middlesex.
I have always been amazed that Stephen Hawkings' books have been so popular, as his subject is so difficult. There is no easy way to get to concepts like Yang Mills fields, multidimensional space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation. Hawkings is a brilliant and informal guide, but there is no way around that fact that the concepts of 20th century physics are very difficult (let alone 21st century physics). In part because these concepts are so familiar to Hawkings himself, he does not do a very good job of connecting them with things that might be more familiar. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that he does his best, but the concepts remain very complex and remote.
In general, this is an engaging book, but I was hanging on by my fingernails trying to keep up.
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