Up until the half way point of this book, I was wondering whether I should just abandon it. Invisible Monsters begins with a scene involving a shooting at a wedding and the rest of the book is devoted to telling you how we got there. The book jumps around in time constantly, a gleeful mess that refuses to make sense until its good and ready to.
So there I was at the half way point, deciding if I wanted to take the rest of the ride. Then Chuck throws you a bone. A hilarious scene in which the protagonist (a model who has had her face shot off) has thanksgiving with her parents drew me back in. After this, the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of the story begin to thunk into place and you begin to see where the story is headed. And you smile. The second half of the book is a darkly comic tale of how all the strands of the story and the characters come together into the final train wreck of a WTF climax.
I usually don't take to female narrators (I don't know why), but Anna Fields is great here. Some of the deadpan and darkly comic moments, she really nails.
Not the audiobook. Narration is hamfisted and the music to add drama is embarrassing.
Have read others but not listened
It's heavy handed. Groans and screams etc are over acted.
Possibly if directed by right person
The first 50 minutes of the audiobook is almost unlistenable. It is a chaotic mix of visions and terrible Celtic music interruptions and I nearly gave up on it as I tried to remember why I had liked the book so much when I read it over 10 years ago. It eventually settles into a more traditional narrative but the occasional further bursts of bad Celtic music that are there to "add to the mood" are amateur and annoying.
The Deus ex machina ending to the story is disappointing and does not close all the loose ends that the plot and the final scenes build up to.
This was my third Murakami novel, prior to this I've read 1Q84 and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. By the half way point I realised this book was very different from my previous experiences with Murakami, in that this is a fairly straight forward novel, where as both Wind Up Bird and 1Q84 are long, sprawling and surreal. There are still hints of the surreal here, but there is never any melding between the plot and fantasy as I've read in his other work.
The plot for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is very simple - Tsukuru is a man nearing middle age who lives a solitary life when he starts dating a woman named Sarah. After getting together a few times, Tsukuru tells Sarah that he had once been part of a close group of 5 school friends, but as they approached adulthood, he was suddenly evicted from the group one day for no apparent reason. He becomes depressed and lives the rest of his life from this point almost friendless, working as a train station designer with a resigned acceptance of how things have turned out for him.
Sarah tells him that she doesn't want to continue the relationship until he deals with his past so she convinces him to go back and visit his old friends to find out why they had rejected him so suddenly and strongly. With this, Tsukuru sets off to talk to his old friends individually and finally learns why they had abandoned him.
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is a meditative exploration of a man's loneliness, confusion and search for a spark to re-ignite his enthusiasm for life after the hurt of being abandoned so unfairly by his friends. Having read 2 Murakami books previously, I wasn't expecting an ending where everything or at least something ends up neatly resolved, but this comes close at least, and for that reason the ending is more satisfying than both Wind Up Bird and 1Q84.
I wasn't a fan of the narration - the "Britishness" and "properness" of it was a mistake - Murakami is a writer of quirkiness, and while the words and characters in the novel express that, the narration doesn't.
This is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to in my time as an Audible member. Don't get me wrong - this is not high literature or a work of art - but it is one of the most fun listening experiences I've had with audiobooks.
The Martian is a sci-fi potboiler but with plenty of smarts and humour. Astronaut Mark Whatley is stranded on Mars after his crew, believing him to be dead, have left him behind as Nasa orders them to evacuate as a storm approaches. He is left with a damaged spacesuit, limited air, and his wits. The story is mostly told by Mark in the form of mission logs, with occasional details told from the point of view of a small group of people on Earth involved in his rescue.
Mark spends over 500 days stranded on Mars while a rescue mission is worked out and dispatched, and the poor guy has to survive many mishaps, setbacks and perhaps worst of all, has only Agatha Christie novels, 70's TV shows and disco music to keep him from going insane. Mark is a thoroughly likeable character, and the story keeps chugging along without any boring parts and I'd be surprised if someone hasn't already picked this up to make it into a movie.
The narration is excellent - the best I've heard on Audible - R C Bray nails Mark's roguish charm and wit perfectly, and for this reason this is one of those books that really might be better in audio form than print.
I came to this audiobook not knowing very much about Morrissey except what I had interpreted from his music.
The first section of the book was fascinating, his childhood, schooldays and I particularly enjoyed the story of how Morrissey began to fall in love with music and the music that inspired him to become a singer. The writing is heartfelt, warm and leads you into a possibly premature fondness for the guy.
The Story of the Smiths formation and career though is terribly underdone. You would imagine The Smiths period of his life would take quite some time to detail but it is almost casually slapped down - a collection of random anecdotes which make no linear sense and give improper credit to the legacy of the band and its place as a stepping stone into his solo work. At this point in the book, Morrissey does goes to some effort to almost fondly credit the other members of the Smiths for their various contributions to the music, despite the acrimonious issues that were to follow after the breakup of the band.
What follows after the "story of the Smiths" is confusing though. The book continues as a random collection of anecdotes and characters weaving in and out of and between his long lines of solo albums. That's not to say there is nothing of value in the content, but again there does not seem to be any linear sense to things - he will start talking about people who weren't introduced to the reader properly and random events take on an importance which they shouldn't have. e.g a long and completely unnecessary ghost story!
After this there is a long, long section detailing Morrissey's side of the famous court case brought about by the Smith's drummer. This was actually quite fascinating (as is Morrissey's view from inside the insidious world of the business of music) and as a musician myself, I can certainly sympathise with his despair at how horrible the people in the music business can be.
While the book up to this point had certainly had its faults, it was nevertheless an entertaining and sometimes fascinating listen. Despite Morrissey's notoriety, I discovered nothing that had made me think less of him.
It is the final part of the book however that will have Morrissey haters licking their lips, and I have to say he gives them plenty of ammunition! The final section of this book seems to be written by someone either blissfully unaware or uncaring of how he comes across. Written almost as a travelogue, the book becomes quite literally a long and boring list of cities he performs in and how he, the apparently magnificent and heroic artist journeys the world in a rapturous travelling communion with his fans. It goes on for so long and just becomes so absurd in its world weary grandioseness that you find the words "what a twat" unconsciously leave your mouth several times through the telling.
Its an odd feeling to end the book with as it is really hard to erase the bad taste in your mouth from the final section of the book. Of course, it wouldn't be Morrissey without the melodrama, but for this reviewer, I'll settle for the melodrama in his songs - its more palatable.
So many great lines in this book.
Completely silly and completely perfect. Have read this many times, but just finished audio book version read by Stephen Fry, which is a lot like having a bowl of the the best ice cream in the world and adding lots of yummy freckles and chic chips!
I really enjoyed this surreal and charming novel. After just finishing reading it, my initial thought is that the charm of the story will be the thing I will end up remembering it for. As an actual story, not a lot actually happens - like an episode of Seinfeld set in the Twilight Zone. Haruki Murakami takes a lost cat, an unemployed man, a series of strange phone calls, a marital split and offbeat characters, adds some seemingly irrelevant subplots involving a Japanese WW2 survivor and psychics and weaves a tale that goes everywhere yet nowhere. I was also amazed at how well a novel translated from Japanese can hold up as literature when read in English.
This is the second Murakami novel I have read and like the first (1Q84), the book dissolves into a vague ending where you are left wondering how all the various strands related to each other. That is sure to frustrate a lot of readers' but Murakami's magic seems to me to be the charm of the world you are entering when you begin reading his novels and the journey he takes you on.
Before buying this book, I was intrigued by the many angry reviews claiming that Beatrice And Virgil was offensive and "tricked" the reader. I couldn't disagree more with those opinions.
There is nothing offensive in this book - there are some dark and disturbing scenes, but offensive? No, not unless many other supposedly "classic" novels throughout history covering man's darkest deeds are offensive too.
And trickery? While the reveal at the end of the book is very sudden, the author and main protagonist hint many times during the story that all is not as it seems, many times openly voicing questions about the undercurrents of the story involving Virgil, a howler monkey, and Beatrice, a donkey.
Beatrice & Virgil begins with a successful author, named Henry who coincidentally? has written a successful novel with animals as the characters. His next novel is rejected by his publishers and he takes a break from writing to reassess things. He receives a letter from a reader asking for help, along with highlighted passages from a story by Flaubert, and a scene from a play he assumes is written by the sender of the letter. Realising the address was not far from his, he decides to write back and hand deliver the letter to the reader's postbox.
When he arrives to deliver the letter he discovers the address is a taxidermy shop and he enters and ends up meeting the man who had written to him.
The taxidermist says he has spent his life writing a play and needs Henry's help with some problems he has finishing it. The taxidermist is a very odd and cold man but has written a play in which the two main characters, Beatrice & Virgil, are animals living on a shirt. Yes, a shirt. In contrast to the taxidermist's cold demeanour, Beatrice and Virgil engage in heartfelt conversations about events they can only bring themselves to call "the horrors".
Over the course of the novel, the taxidermist reads extracts of his play to Henry, who has trouble matching the author's gruff and cold aloofness to the animated and passionate animals in the story. Henry visits the taxidermist several times, trying to understand what his play is about and what message the taxidermist is trying to express with his story, all the while unable to put his finger on the dark undercurrents in the story.
At the final meeting of Henry and the taxidermist, the truth behind the story is revealed, and quite suddenly and shockingly. In fact, the entire story twists within just one sentence. With this, the story continues on very briefly, coming to an end, which while macabre, deeply sobering and dark, is far more satisfying than the ending of Martel's previous book, "Life of Pi".
For me, the mark of a great book is that you are still mulling it over in the days after you finish it, and that has been the case for me after finishing Beatrice & Virgil.
The narration was excellent - sometimes accents can bring a narrator down, but accents handled very well and overall told with a storyteller's tongue.
Yes, it has some wonderful turns of phrase, engaging characters and manages to be quirky and heavy in equal measures.
Hans - he handles a hard life and challenging times with admirable dignity.
The narration is wonderful BUT, the audiobook has one very large flaw. In the written version of the book, the narrator (death) will sometimes talk in asides, which are written in italics. In the audiobook, these asides are whispered and buried in echo and are often impossible to hear or understand. How the producers let this happen is mystifying and it really disrupts the flow of the story.
1. When Death steps on the picture of Hitler.2. When Death describes how Rudi makes him cry.
I'm sure this book will polarise listeners / readers. If you have your life all together, then you will most likely thoroughly dislike this needy, self centred and often pathetic man, and hate the book. If however, you have you own special basket of issues you wrestle with on a daily basis, chances are you will warm to and be charmed by this needy, self centred and often pathetic man, and love the book.
I loved the book - its one of the best I've heard on audible. Laugh out loud funny in places.
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