If listening to 13 hours detailing the whining and infighting of wealthy American ex-pariots in Venice is your idea of a good time, then this is the audio book for you!
Although it begins well, with a vivid description of the Fenice and the fire and a few interesting portraits of actual Italian Venetians (most of whom never reappear in the book), the larger story was more like a painfully long gossip column written for insiders than the glimpse into the mysterious Venetian architecture, art, history, life and culture that we are led to expect by the publisher's summary. The author lurches from gossip laden tattle-tale to tattle-tale with no discernable connecting thread, the Fenice and the rest of Venice fading sadly into the background after the first few scenes.
This book was, sadly, a great disappointment.
The main reason I joined Audible.com was to take advantage of the "podcast" of This American Life. Although TAM is available free on National Public Radio, I'm often not able to listen at the time my local NPR station airs the show.
This American Life is one of the best radio programs around. The program gets behind the facade (and sometimes under the skirt) of timely news topics topics and allows us to hear commentary, experiences and points of view from the perspective of ordinary people. On the rare occasion that they speak directly with a "newsmaker", TAM often approaches the issues from a very different perspective than the mainstream media. Ira Glass and Company also address many topics and perspectives, and uncover subcultures, issues, and events that other media have completely missed. I like very much the fact that most stories are persented in a first person reportage sort of way.
Listening to This American Life is the best spent hour of my entire week.
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