Highly recommend!!! The book has a minimalist style, just the facts for the most part, and it's a testament to how powerful the story is. The story is incredible and it's paced out really well. I couldn't recommend it more, and that's coming from a person who almost always goes for fiction.
On the plus side, River Phoenix's life story is fascinating, from his extremely unique childhood to his development on movie sets and his young adult life. Also has some fun Hollywood gossip, as it draws quite a bit of the story from quotes from celebs like Johnny Depp, Ethan Hawke, and Martha Plimpton (who was his girlfriend for a few years).
On the negative side, there are some major issues.
1) Bad Narration: the narrator sounds too old and proper when he's reading the 3rd person narration but at least it's clear. All quotes, and there are a LOT, sound terrible. He makes almost every character sound the same way: creepy. Worse, the quotes are significantly quieter than the regular narration. I had to rewind many times because I couldn't make out what had been said, even when I had the volume up high. This was very frustrating.
2) Lack of Coherent Storyline. The fact that the story bounces between the Viper Room and River's life story isn't the problem. The author seems to have bit off more than he could chew in trying to also provide back stories for certain other people, like Johnny Depp. Other times, he will just namecheck a bunch of people at once and move on. He will also approach something that feels important and not dig in further for the real story, maybe out of respect for Phoenix's memory. So there will be a description of some odd behavior Phoenix exhibited where you expect to hear more. Instead you get a non-sequitur about how sweet everyone always thought Phoenix was, and the story moves on. It feels more like the author compiled quotes found elsewhere than that he actually interviewed these people and was able to ask questions.
Overall, a life story like this one is so interesting it ultimately is worth the experience despite the negatives, but I think the credit goes to the man's life, not to this telling of it.
The story follows a beautiful young socialite with limited funds who is ambivalent about her marriage prospects (choosing between love and money). The book sets the scene of turn of the century New York society incredibly well and also has great dialogue. Initially, I thought the narrator's voice was too deep to work, but she does an excellent job of voicing the various characters. The overall experience is so enjoyable, I've listened to this book repeatedly.
Betty White's excellent comedic timing helps the audiobook quite a bit. I don't think I'd have enjoyed the book nearly as much had it not been read to me by the lady herself. This is the first book I ever read by White, and I'm guessing that her earlier books are probably better. This was fine, I don't want my money or time back, but that's no ringing endorsement. If I lent this book to someone else and they never gave it back, I wouldn't care.
Terrible. The translation is awkward and the reading is uninteresting. I repeatedly thought (and hoped) that it was almost over, only to be disappointed. Way too many meandering stories about way too many characters who you just can't bring yourself to care about.
I love David Sedaris. He's hilarious and brilliant. The experience of this book is what I would think of as Sedaris at a Tuesday dinner party vs the Saturday night of his best books. It's absolutely still worth the experience, just not the raucous, burst out laughing in public experience that originally made me recommend him to anyone and everyone.
The random musical selections in between stories were weird and pointless. Most of the stories are read in a studio, with an occasional chapter that is from a book tour, and that felt disjointed - not a bad performance by Sedaris, more like bad producing.
Bossypants is great. Tina Fey is consistently smart and funny. The book is well paced and full of her self-deprecating humor.
The audiobook is excellent as it's read by Lowe himself, so it has the perfect inflection. The stories are interesting and amusing, and it runs at a good pace, full of Hollywood characters and just enough "behind the scenes" to keep you listening. You do get the sense that a famous guy is trying to re-craft the image of himself, but he does a great job and his perspective is totally worth hearing. He relates stories about his entire career, ups and downs included, and he tells them well.
I definitely laughed and I appreciated how seriously Rob Lowe took the reading.
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