You no longer follow James

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.


You now follow James

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.





  • Generosity

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Richard Powers
    • Narrated By David Pittu
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    When Chicagoan Russell Stone finds himself teaching a Creative Nonfiction class, he encounters a young Algerian woman with a disturbingly luminous presence. Thassadit Amzwar's blissful exuberance both entrances and puzzles the melancholic Russell. How can this refugee from perpetual terror be so happy?

    James says: "All About Fiction"
    "All About Fiction"

    Most reviewers discuss the science of this novel. But, for me, it's all about the fiction. The magic of fiction, resulting from our willing suspension of disbelief, is that we read (or listen to) a novel as if it were a book of non-fiction about actual people confronting real events. But what if the narrator of a novel claims to be its author and comments, from time to time, on the process of his creation of the very fictional characters and plot? And what if that plot forces its characters, most of them student-writers of non-fiction that they sometimes make up, to wonder if they or their DNA or science or the media have created them? (It never occurs to them that they are characters in a novel.) Then we have a maze of a book--another amazing Richard Powers novel both intellectually provocative and aesthetically satisfying. What Powers also does so marvelously well here is to invent Thassadit Amzwar (nickname: Generosity) who makes us feel so good, we need her to be real. But whether she is or not, there is more truth in this Richard Powers novel than in a month of cable news.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Brand New Ancients

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 20 mins)
    • By Kate Tempest
    • Narrated By Kate Tempest

    Kate Tempest is one of the most exciting and innovative performers to have emerged in spoken-word poetry in many years; her dramatic poem "Brand New Ancients" won the prestigious Ted Hughes Prize for innovation in poetry. Tempest's wholly unique blend of street poetry, rap, and storytelling - combined with the spellbinding delivery of an open-air revivalist - has won her legions of followers all over the UK. Her remarkable stage presence is wholly audible in this poem, a spoken story written to be told with live music.

    anne saunders says: "Amazing new talent"
    "An extraordinary experience"
    What made the experience of listening to Brand New Ancients the most enjoyable?

    More -- much more -- than a reading or a narration, Kate Tempest has produced, along with her musicians, audio performance art of a kind unique in the annals of audible.

    What other book might you compare Brand New Ancients to and why?

    Is it rap? Is it chant? Is it a song? It is epic and so rightly musical and mythic. As the title suggests, this book is Homeric.

    Which character – as performed by Kate Tempest – was your favorite?

    We are meant to love Tommy and Glory . . . And I did.

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's been a long time since I have bothered to write a review at audible -- not that I haven't enjoyed most of the volumes in my library. But Brand New Ancients demanded I make my reaction public. It is the single best audio book I have ever heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Zora Neale Hurston
    • Narrated By Ruby Dee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel begs to be read aloud, and Ruby Dee answers the challenge with utter perfection, capturing the wide range of characters and their diverse accents with grace and power. Their Eyes Were Watching God is the luminous and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern Black woman in the 1930s, whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to 70 years.

    Leslie says: "a pleasure"
    "Who needs 3D when you have Ruby Dee?"

    Hurston's novel is a classic and so hardly needs a review from me. But the reading by Ruby Dee (a classic herself) is so extraordinary that I cannot help but cheer out loud. I have seen hundreds of Broadway shows and thousands of films in my six decades, but, honestly, I'm not sure I have ever been audience to a greater performance. Ruby Dee gives every character a close-up; she paints a hue for every word to produce, somehow, a technicolor panorama that is palpable. I have listened to the hurricane chapter over and over. It's the showstopper in this tour de force. I can't listen again to the closing chapter; the catharsis is just too powerful to repeat. It lives in my heart though, and will forever.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • It's Superman!

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Tom De Haven
    • Narrated By Scott Brick

    Opening with the young Clark Kent on a date, this novel takes an entirely fresh approach to the emergence of his superpowers and the start of his newspaper career, following him from rural 1930s Kansas across America to Hollywood in its golden age and then to New York City. He meets a worldly Lois Lane and conniving political boss Lex Luthor, and begins his battles against criminal masterminds, mad scientists, and super villains inspired by fascists.

    G. Bledsoe says: "It's Superman!"
    "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore"

    It's Superman in ways we might have imagined, but never before read or saw. This Superman has sex, has to learn to fly, has to go through umpteen costumes before being given (from an unlikely terrestrial source) an indestructible one, and has wounds that bleed literally and metaphorically. The novel is absolutely empathetic to the original story and yet leaps out of bounds with inventive twists and turns. It's Clark Kent's Bildungsroman as he leaves Kansas on the road to self-discovery and, ultimately, his place in the universe. His place, by the way is a very specific, richly detailed and textured metropolis: New York City in the late 1930s. Lex and Lois are there, but far more interesting than they have ever been before in comics, films, or television. One probably has to have a fondness (but not a compulsive fanaticism) for the mythology of Superman to love this novel. I do love It's Superman and I love its astonishingly stylish reading on audio.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stoner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By John Williams
    • Narrated By Robin Field
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    William Stoner is born at the end of the 19th century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, far different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments.

    Anton says: "A story of sadness and serenity"
    "Extraordinarily Ordinary"

    It is not a spoiler to reveal that Professor William Stoner, the eponymous main character, dies at the end of this novel since that fact is revealed to us at the outset. His demise, as described there, causes so few ripples, such a small wake (and I use the word purposefully), that we must wonder if the narrative of his life can be worth reading. But it is--because this terribly, achingly ordinary life is made to sound extraordinary by the power and passion of the writing invested by John Williams in the character. And this is fitting inasmuch as the only real passion--albeit not the only love--in Stoner???s life is literature.

    As in the naturalistic novels of the late nineteenth century, our attention is drawn to the harrowing burdens of Stoner???s existence far more than to his very few glories. He is victimized at so many turns that it is hard to consider him a protagonist, and yet, ultimately, his graceful stoicism and kindness gain in us a certain respect--especially in those of us who have ever asked ourselves if our lives will have made any difference to the world. The novel is a painful answer to that question. But if beauty is truth and if the discovery of truth does make live worth living, then this beautifully-crafted work is worth reading.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • By Nightfall

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Michael Cunningham
    • Narrated By Hugh Dancy
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Peter and Rebecca Harris are mid-40s denizens of Manhattan’s SoHo, nearing the apogee of careers in the arts. With a spacious loft and lively friends, they are admirable urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca’s much younger brother, Ethan, shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling 23-year-old with a history of drug problems, he is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning the entire world he has so carefully constructed.

    James says: "Beauty is truth? Is that all we need to know?"
    "Beauty is truth? Is that all we need to know?"

    This beautifully-written story of an art dealer's mid-life, mid-career, mid-marriage crisis is, as we have come to expect in Michael Cunningham's fiction, rich in allusions, but, except for the big urn protagonist Peter Harris sells to his favorite client, I don't recall any mention of John Keats. But I kept thinking of the poet's tragic paradox by Peter's impossible attempt to find, in the ineffable beauty of sculpture and of a dangerous lover, an experience of the infinite he well knows is at odds with the temporary pleasures and pains of real life. Along the way, although far shorter than Jonathan Franzen's recent blockbuster, By Nightfall similarly makes us wonder if freedom is all it's cracked up to be.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Freedom: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Jonathan Franzen
    • Narrated By David LeDoux
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul - the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter's dreams. Together with Walter - environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man - she was doing her small part to build a better world.

    Lawrence says: "Believe the Hype"
    "Me and the Berglunds"

    I wasn't sure, as I heard the exposition introducing Patty and Walter and their neighbors, if all the praise for Franzen's latest was deserved. But, twenty-four hours of listening later, I join the chorus. The novel draws us in as a good soap opera does, but it is so much more: without a finger of heavy-handed didacticism, the novel ingeniously deconstructs the American obsession with freedom--personal freedom, economic freedom, political freedom, artistic freedom. Freedom here really is an American dream--hardly realistic or, when you get down to it, as this novel does, even desirable. The theme of Freedom isn't so far from that of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee": Freedom's just another work for nothing left to lose.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lush Life: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Richard Price
    • Narrated By Bobby Cannavale

    What do you do? Whenever people asked him, Eric Cash used to have a dozen answers. Artist, actor, screenwriter...But now he's 35 years old and he's still living downtown, still in the restaurant business, working night shifts and serving the people he always wanted to be. What does Eric do? He manages.

    Stephen McLeod says: "Brilliant"
    "lush as in lonely"

    I have loved the gritty New York novels of Richard Price for as long as he has been writing them--several decades now. David Mamet has always gotten praise for the rough colloquial speech of his plays' characters, but, to my ears, no working writer captures real talk as does Price. (And so it's a gift to have a gifted Bobby Cannavale bring all these voices to life.)

    On its surface, the novel is a police procedural, but it is character, not plot, that moves this book. The lives (victims, perpetrators, police, reporters) that bump into each other in its pages are anything but lush. Neither, of course, is the life of the Speaker in the Strayhorn-Ellington classic:

    "I'll live a lush life in some small dive... /
    And there I'll be, while I rot /
    With the rest of those whose lives are lonely, too..."

    But we come to care about these lonely, miserable people because Richard Price treats them all--even the villains--with understanding. I have always thought that no novelist outdid Anita Desai in authorial fairness to fictional characters. But Price runs the same amazing race in Lush Life making this a book with great writing and a great heart despite the bleakness of its landscape.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Chronic City: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jonathan Lethem
    • Narrated By Mark Deakins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Chase Insteadman, a handsome fixture on Manhattan's social scene, lives off residuals earned as a child star on a beloved sitcom. Chase owes his current social cachet to an ongoing tragedy much covered in the tabloids: His teenage sweetheart and fiancée is trapped by a layer of low-orbit mines on the International Space Station, from which she sends him rapturous and heartbreaking love letters. Like his fiancée , Chase is adrift, she in Earth's stratosphere, he in a vague routine.

    Bobby says: "Don't listen to the naysayers!"
    "Straight at a Pot Party"

    Have you ever found yourself straight at a party where everyone else is stoned on pot? That's what reading Chronic City is like--figuratively . . . and literally since most of the characters ARE always stoned on pot? I left the party before it was over, disappointed because I so loved Lethem's accessible and genuinely insightful and funny _The Fortress of Solitude_. _Chronic City_ is an episodic novel about nothing, but not nearly as much fun or as clever or, despite its pretensions, as knowledgeable of New York as that masterpiece about nothing, _Seinfeld_.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.


Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.