I have long found that a significant benefit of having books read to me is I can get through dry, long, and long winded material. It’s the only way I’ve gotten through a great deal of excellent non-fiction - as well as many classic works of fiction. Not only does the narrator keep reading when the mind wanders, and you can choose to rewind or not, but listening easily becomes part of even a busy the daily routine. It’s not like I have to be reminded to take my daily commute.
I’ll admit though, consuming even great writing can remain a challenge on occasion. The more so with uneven writing, as is the case with “Servant Leadership” - though let me assure the prospective reader that about 40 percent of the way through the book does finally catch fire. You’ll just need to skip the several long, pompous “expert” introductions - such as the one that assures the listener how wonderful the book will be - just as soon as he shuts up. Skip the author’s introduction as well, along with the first essay.
Unfortunately I find all this initial blather hurts the authors cause even with the good stuff. Being new to the topic of servant leadership I find myself questioning its seriousness. And my long suffering mind wanders even from the author’s many genuine and spiritual insights. The hours of repetition and banalities have even produced a strange distrust of the narrator’s mellifluous and earnest voice. "What nonsense is he going to foist on me next?"
Again, though I was unable to bring myself to fast forward randomly through the book, it would have been the better strategy to hit the “next chapter” button whenever things really dragged.
The author has much insight - particularly relevant today, in our era with its worship of the monied, a frantic sinking majority, and a popularly despised underclass - into the need for a society to grow from the bottom up. Individual initiative, talent and accountability build strong nations. Weak nations suppress or at the very least fail to nurture its citizens.
This book has contributed to my education in this regard, but I much look forward to my next read, whatever it may be, for something besides a long, hard slog.
I find contemptible this attempt to force reader reviews into a banal question and answer. I do not review third grade textbooks and so will not be completing assignments of that caliber. If you insist on insulting the intelligence of your readers you will reap accordingly.
Fans of Codrescu from NPR will recognize their friend. It may be a bit clunky as a novel, but rewards the listener with its learned commentary and Eastern Block magical realism. Excellent narration.
Wakefield starts out as a pretty generic contemporary American, a kind of high class schmuck, though blessed with a few interesting friends. And of course there?s the attention he gets from Satan: a philosophical, Bugs Bunny?esque version of the furry angel.
Wakefield makes good money as a post modern inspirational speaker ? a provocative, highly sophisticated, downer. Speaking off the top of his head he?s brilliant, invariably follows up by sleeping with his lovely corporate escort, before jetting off to the next gig.
His speeches range freely through all life?s big concerns, world politics, the various currents of the contemporary American dream, only to finish by pulling the rug out from under his audience. To summarize one of his speeches to a group of corporate titans: wealth destroys the soul, philanthropy artfully applied revives it, and then everything self destructs - phoenix like. That is, art and poetry are all that matter, and even they matter only fleetingly.
When he finally collapses back home he busies himself with reading, learned ramblings and adolescent grousing over his lot in life. He finds his own life burdensome ? ex wife, estranged daughter, even this job he invented for himself. But all is not lost, as he manages to appreciate the interesting things going on around him.
Wakefield the novel resembles Wakefield?s life ? a series of episodes only tentatively linked. Besides tryst after tryst, there are encounters with futuristic technology, an ethnic riot, a gun and art collecting billionaire. I wish Codrescu more fully explored a topic before racing on to the next. At the book?s sudden end I felt like a meatball in a plot of spaghetti. Please, thicker noodles next time.
A fabulous book, and I find the narration more than acceptable. For those who enjoy a dense, philosophical story - and so by definition aren?t afraid of a little work ? I recommend it highly.
A casualty of 1940?s Poland, sage, courteous, financially dependent Sammler frets over his friends and relations - charming scoundrels, cripples and fellow survivors. Old fashioned in his views, he lives in a 1960?s New York of street crime, free love, self indulgent wealth and a general tearing down of established beliefs. Yet he spends his days striving to distill all of western learning ? as seared by his own experience - into a few portable certainties.
?Mr. Sammler?s? is dense material, sometimes extremely so. I listened to some passages half a dozen times before I could follow Sammler?s thoughts. He is after all a complex and learned man. Though his words sometimes require repeating, I found this not to be the narrator?s fault, but due to the author?s gift.
If you are after a modern classic, a weighty tome, by all means listen to this one. While I probably wouldn?t pick it for staying awake material, I do intend to give it another go around myself.
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