The way an audio book works is this: you listen to a chapter, maybe two if you're extravagant, then you put down your iPod and get on with what needs doing.
But Alan Cumming doesn't play fair. Not only is he a great reader (I mean, he's Alan Cumming, for crying out loud) but he's also an amazing writer. He has mastered the art of narrative and the chapter ending cliff hanger, and as a result I spent the best part of my Saturday not working, but listening. I tried to listen while I worked, but then I found myself just standing in the middle of my living room with a dust cloth in my hands, listening.
This is not your typical collection of show biz party stories, but a painful memoir of a man coming to terms with his very difficult childhood. This should be a real downer, but somehow it's not. It's a triumph. There is not only honesty in this story, but love -- love for his family, love for the reader, love for the craft of story telling.
Not My Father's Son is simply the most satisfying "listen" I've had all year. Buy it.
This is not a book; it is a list. Lists have their place, but they don't tell a story. Nor do they go into much depth. I get it that there are "list people" out there. If you are one, buy this book. If you want something with depth, look elsewhere.
I would absolutely recommend this book. Greg Bear does the best job of bringing hard science into speculative fiction of anyone I know. The story never subsumes the science, nor the science the story. VERY satisfying to the head and the heart.
The last third of the book is loaded with stuff that would not have changed the story at all if it hadn't been there. Sorry, Greg. If it hadn't been for Stephen's excellent reading, I wouldn't have stuck with it.
I wonder if this book could have gotten published these days. Every story now seems so addicted to "it all works out in the end" that true tragedy isn't really dealt with. I really liked the fact that Greg Bear acknowledged that sometimes the worst case happens. He has a silver lining, all right, but it doesn't eclipse the catastrophe of the event.
Honestly, the last third of the novel was full of things that covered in 20 pages what could have been covered in one. Perhaps when one is Greg Bear, editors are (or were) reluctant to intervene. In any event, one of the advantages of having a good narrator is that his energy can carry you through the slow spots. And I really appreciate that, because the last pages of the story were really worth getting to. I would certainly buy another Greg Bear book, as I've done in the past, and will certainly look for anything narrated by Stephen Bel Davies. Hurrah and thanks to you both. A great yarn.
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