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Donald

Arlington, MA, USA | Member Since 2001

155
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 207 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014
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  • The Trial

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Franz Kafka
    • Narrated By Geoffrey Howard
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    Joseph K. is an Everyman. His inconsequence makes doubly strange his arrest by an officer of the court, made with no formal charges or explanation. Disoriented and consumed with guilt for a "crime" he does not understand, Josef K. must justify his life to a "court" with which he cannot communicate. Through the court's relentless bureaucratic proceedings and absurd juxtapositions of different hypotheses of cause and effect, the whole rational structure of the world is undermined.

    Donald says: "dangers of a police state"
    "dangers of a police state"
    Overall

    I doubt that I can add much to what's been written about this book. I had thought that I had read all of Kafka's works, but somehow I had missed this cornerstone.

    There are times when we feel that everyone else knows something, but we're somehow in the dark. Perhaps it's the halftime flash which our disinterest kept us from seeing. These times are even more sinister when the knowledge pertains to us. Perhaps our co-workers know we're being let go. Perhaps our prospective employers are getting negative reports behind our backs. This story is that paranoia on steroids: somehow almost all of society is part of an obscure police state and everyone around us is playing a role while we naively carry on with our achievements and status--winning the wrong game.

    K evinces inviolability and rightness, yet the machinery of the omnipresent police state continues to draw the noose. Like Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros, all are converting and turning, or perhaps unseen were already changed. Now it is K's turn and his choices lead impotently toward dissolution.

    I can see why people liken Invitation to a Beheading to this book, but they are dramatically different. Both are absurd and surrealistic, but Nabokov's is bright balls and circus absurdity with almost everything out in the open. Kafka's is a nightmare absurdity of dark hallways, dead ends, false hopes, and entrapping sirens.

    As to this recording, there are odd splices of another voice occasionally, but otherwise, the narration is quite good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Grass for His Pillow: Tales of the Otori, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lian Hearn
    • Narrated By Kevin Gray, Aiko Nakasone
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2708)
    Performance
    (593)
    Story
    (592)

    The exhilerating tale of Takeo continues in book II of the internationally best-selling Tales of the Otori trilogy, a sweeping saga set in a mythical, medieval Japan.

    RacerX says: "Good book. First one was better"
    "Sequel only"
    Overall

    The last half was fairly good. The first third was a tiresome sermon by the female lead explaining why she was pursuing equality and equal access in a male dominated culture. The book as a whole speaks as an imposition of modern values onto a medieval Japanese society. However, once action and some dialog replaced sermons, the book got better.

    Nevertheless, the book is very much of a sequel setting up the 3rd book in the trilogy. It feels as if its whole purpose is to retrieve the story, pull in a few new plot lines, and set up for the culmination to come.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Everyman

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Philip Roth
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (355)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (61)

    The hero of Everyman is obsessed with mortality. As he reminds himself at one point, "I'm 34! Worry about oblivion when you're 75." But he cannot help himself. He is the ex-husband in three marriages gone wrong. He is the father of two sons who detest him, despite a daughter who adores him. A masterful portrait of one man's inner struggles, Everyman is a brilliant showcase for one of the world's most distinguished novelists.

    JOHN says: "Full Frontal Roth"
    "What do you regret?"
    Overall

    An introspective look into the foibles and joys of a man. His estrangements and attachments. He looks back from the end of life vantage point with regret and sympathy. The book is a downer in that each scene is a hospitalization.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Shalom Auslander
    • Narrated By Shalom Auslander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (241)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (77)

    Foreskin's Lament reveals Auslander's youth in a strict, socially isolated Orthodox community, and recounts his rebellion and efforts to make a new life apart from it. Auslander remembers his youthful attempt to win the "blessing bee" (the Orthodox version of a spelling bee), his exile to an Orthodox-style reform school in Israel after he's caught shoplifting Union Bay jeans from the mall, and his 14-mile hike to watch the New York Rangers play in Madison Square Garden without violating the Sabbath.

    Jeffrey says: "If my yetzer harah could write"
    "Humorous, insightful, well performed"
    Overall

    Reflecting humorously on his own personal pain and journey, Shalom spins an engaging tale about abuse, parenting, and our struggle to find ourselves.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Philip Gourevitch
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (30)

    In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months, 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler's war against the Jews. This haunting work by Philip Gourevitch, staff writer for the New Yorker, is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide's background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.

    Josh says: "Worth your time"
    "Dry but informative"
    Overall

    A bit dry. Very journalistic. Credible. Good narration.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Oedipus the King

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 40 mins)
    • By Sophocles
    • Narrated By Michael Sheen, full cast
    Overall
    (74)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (19)

    In the hands of Sophocles, the master dramatist, the anguished tale of a man fated to kill his father and marry his mother retains its power to shock and move beyond any Freudian reference.

    Aaron says: "Crackles with Fire"
    "True classic"
    Overall

    Well read. Inimitable tragedy. Some voices could be better amplified.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Philip Pullman
    • Narrated By Philip Pullman, full cast
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3017)
    Performance
    (997)
    Story
    (1014)

    Lyra and Will, the two ordinary children whose extraordinary adventures begin in The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife, are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone.

    Anita says: "an exceptional story that's had bad press"
    "Disappointing conclusion to a great trilogy"
    Overall

    The author did such a good job telling a story in the previous two books, that I looked eagerly forward to this concluding book. Unlike the others, he launches into repeated sermons on the evils of Christianity and the church. He could have been so much more effective by keeping it in terms of a story as he did in the previous two books and as C.S. Lewis does in Narnia and others do. Being hammered is too much.

    10 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Idiot [Blackstone]

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Fyodor Dostoevsky
    • Narrated By Robert Whitfield
    Overall
    (360)
    Performance
    (154)
    Story
    (160)

    Prince Myshkin, is thrust into the heart of a society more concerned with wealth, power, and sexual conquest than the ideals of Christianity. Myshkin soon finds himself at the center of a violent love triangle in which a notorious woman and a beautiful young girl become rivals for his affections. Extortion, scandal, and murder follow, testing the wreckage left by human misery to find "man in man."

    Tad says: "Intense and painfully sad"
    "Great book, good narration, poor transcription"
    Overall

    The audible transcription cuts off 30-60 seconds from the end of each part. Very disconcerting. The book and narrator, however, are worth every minute. (I do think Crime and Punishment was more engaging, though.)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Paradise Lost

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By John Milton
    • Narrated By Anton Lesser, Laura Paton
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    Paradise Lost is the greatest epic poem in the English language. In words remarkable for their richness of rhythm and imagery, Milton tells the story of Man's creation, fall, and redemption to "justify the ways of God to men."

    Danielle says: "Not at all a decent version"
    "Gorgeous telling"
    Overall

    I've come back to and listened to this recording three or four times. I find its imagery and lyricism enthralling. I will never think of death and sin without picturing them by the portal in their odd macabre dance and dilliance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • From Dawn to Decadence, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Jacques Barzun
    • Narrated By Edward Lewis
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (21)

    Master historian Jacques Barzun has now set down in one continuous narrative the sum of his discoveries and conclusions about the whole of Western culture since 1500. And when he rates the present not as a culmination but a decline, he is in no way a prophet of doom. Instead, he shows decadence as the normal close of great periods and a necessary condition of the creative novelty that will burst forth - tomorrow or the next day.

    Donald says: "Superb and enlightening history text"
    "Superb and enlightening history text"
    Overall

    This very long text requires a certain fortitude to get through and then needs a relisten to put the pieces together. Nevertheless, it's marvelous and well worthwhile. He brings out threads that take centuries to play out and shows how they underly our culture, political actions, and beliefs.

    The recording is good but the editing is very awkward. The division into parts is purely based on time not content and so interrupts suddenly. Given the length of each part, it would be nice if each were self-contained.

    30 of 31 people found this review helpful

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