Really the only thing I'd really known about Salman Rushdie prior to purchasing this book was of course that he was the author of the Satanic Verses. This book chronicles his life up until the time of the release of that novel, and through that time in detail.
As a listener, I found the third person narrative off putting at times - 1. there are instances where more than one person are being discussed, and you often realise that the "he" who the author is talking about is now the writer, where as ten seconds earlier, the "he" in question was someone else, and 2. the third person style can come across as pompous. I am sure the author had his reason for choosing this style, most likely because the events in this memoir are indeed important, and perhaps he wished to distance himself somewhat from their importance, in other words, an attempt at humility.
The narrator insists on inserting accents for all the other people in the book, and these accents all fall into cliche. In addition to this, he also adds accents when he is simply quoting people - one of the most ridiculous instances when he quotes lyrics from Michael Jackson's song "Black & White" in a hilariously bad American accent - I nearly crashed my car laughing.....
The story however rescues this audiobook from the off putting performance.
I found myself to have a rather schizophrenic reaction to Salman Rushdie's story as I listened. There were times I found myself wondering why sometimes he needs so many words to simply say it was morning, but other times where he charmed me as he faced a horribly unfair sentence on both his life and character.
This poor man suffered through a long barrage of mindless religious zealotry and sentences of condemnation on both his life and his character, and was used countless times as a political pawn, and had no option but to roll with the punches. The revelations he makes in this book describing the cowardly way his government, the publishing industry, some fellow writers, and of course the media are an indictment on our society's bizarre views on religious tolerance. On top of this, the poor man had to deal with an undoubtedly psychopathic wife during this time. This was no man sealed off in an ivory tower - he was a man with no control over where he lived, where he went and how he lived for a very long time.
The memoir seems fairly balanced - Salman Rushdie seems quite prepared to admit his shortcomings and mistakes, and he describes his crazy and manipulative wife with far more grace than she deserved. He takes plenty of pot shots at politicians, religious clerics and others whose behaviour was abominable, but you can't blame him, and I certainly felt like he used an admirable amount of restraint. I finished the book with admiration for him and a hope that he goes on to write without the need to look over his shoulder or second guess his motives.
This is a story that needed to be told. Unfortunately, religious fanaticism is still a powerful force in these time, as we all saw only 10 years ago in New York. Somewhere down the line, I have a feeling a similar story will sadly need to be told by some other poor unfortunate victim who inadvertently offends the barbaric and superstitious.
The first HM book that didn't draw me in and engage me. It has that familiar weird charm and hey this book even has an ending that I'm going to pass as a satisfying resolution (Murakami is often happy to leave loose ends reeeaaallly loose).
I still really enjoyed HM's writing and it kept me interested enough to get through the book in a week or so but putting fantasy aside, I couldn't buy into the insufficiently fleshed out story about the Data War between the Calcutecs and the Semiotecs. It was all just too vague and ethereal to me. This and the underground world of the Inklings that seemed to have no real point kept my engagement at arms length. I floated through this part of the story looking for something solid to hang onto but it was just all so wispy and aloof.
I finished the book feeling like maybe I'd rushed through reading it and I'd missed something blindingly obvious. I'll probably revisit this one in a few years to see if the second times a charm.
I felt like I needed to take a long shower after finishing this book. I considered abandoning it several times as it continually made my skin crawl. It doesn't help that the "victim" of the book is very unlikeable. The title "Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church" suggests that Lauren Drain was a poor girl trapped in the clutches of this group of evil loonies, whereas she comes across as almost defensive of the heinous behaviour of the WBC often going as far as to attempt to justify it. Its as if her only issue is that she was "banished" from the church rather than its horrid outlook on the world.
Several times during the book she tells of how "the Holy Ghost" told someone in authority what to do - but completely without irony, her tone is matter of fact and accepting. She describes her thrill of picketing military funerals and telling people they were going to burn in hell by saying "there was so much power in telling someone they were unworthy". Years later, she describes one teenager who refused to accept the WBC's teachings on face value as a trouble maker, saying "He'd always been a trouble maker,saying something absurd like there's no proof" in the middle of bible studies.
At one point in the book she says that her and her fellow hate mongers were "free thinking, highly intelligent individuals......very educated, well spoken and informed". And she's serious.
Once she is banished, she is still crazy enough to continue to embrace her religion, with the disclaimer that she no longer believes in picketing funerals or victimising people. My skin crawled all the way through the book.
I could never listen to this book again - it saps your optimism and your faith in humanity.
Jon Ronson books are typically a collection of amusing anecdotes about the lunatic fringe or bizarre situations. This book has a more sinister edge as it delves into the mire of the internet mob mentality. The narration is delivered with the usual seemingly naive earnestness that Jon is known for but in this book there is a sympathy for the victims of public shaming and disgust for the perpetrators that he seems honour bound to step back from straddling the line of journalistic objectivity.
The stories here stir you up as you hear of people's lives being ruined by the fury of an Internet of pathetic people hiding behind a keyboard. The subject of the first story probably deserved his shaming but stories of some of the poor people that follow make you sick as a private conversation or failed attempt at a joke goes viral and their lives and careers are permanently changed.
Does the Internet champion free speech or is it just a mouthpiece for cheap speech?
The story has a certain old fashioned charm but lacks subtlety (for example - what is going to happen to Lucy, one of the main characters is obvious half way through the tale). Children interested in sci-fi might like this story as long as they are not expecting a lot of action and excitement.
The narration is ok, a little hokey, which suited the old fashioned feel of the story.
Like a lot of books, the story begins with an interesting principle, that aliens are using Earth as a kind of interstellar "airport" and one man, a civil war survivor has been chosen to oversee their facility. He only ages when outside the facility the aliens have built inside his old farmhouse.
There are a lot of problems with the internal logic of the story - e.g.. aliens of varying species can breathe our air with no problem, characters meeting aliens with no real surprise or shock or awe etc.
Apart from the interesting premise, the book meekly meanders along until the feel good optimistic ending of no real substance.
Christopher Priest books are a mixed bag - The Prestige was excellent, but the 2 others I've read are mediocre.
The premise is intriguing but the story is boring and the ending is really soft and lame.
The thick Scottish accent is really off-putting. I kept expecting him to start singing a Proclaimers song.....
I think the author wrote this book for the right reasons - for art's sake - but its just a boring and unsatisfying tale.
It's been a while since King has written a book this good from start to finish.
The story follows Jamie Morton, whom we meet as a young boy and he finds his life interconnected with a young pastor named Charles Jacobs with a fascination for the power of electricity. After tragedy strikes the young Jacobs, he understandably loses his faith and leaves town but the lives of Jamie and Charles will be intertwined from that time on. Jamie grows up to become a musician who succumbs to drug addiction, while ex-Pastor Jacobs goes on to experiment with the "healing" powers of electricity. Jacobs believes he can heal a variety of conditions and his experiments grow larger and more daring as his life goes on, but as Jamie gets drawn back into his old pastors's life, he begins to learn that the cures Jacobs performs come with consequences.
The story moves along quite briskly and there's no wasted time with unnecessary narrative as a few of the last King books have been guilty of (except Under The Dome). The narration is understated and laid back - the only thing that threw me at the beginning of the book was that the narration is performed by an older man - until silly me realised the book was written from the perspective of an old man.
What makes a great Stephen King book is when you read a scene and you can imagine King sitting at his computer grinning at what he has just typed. There's a few of those type of scenes in Revival, my favourite being a re-worked version of Happy Birthday sung to Jamie in a dream. Something happened!
I liked that the "bad guy" of the story, Charles Jacobs isn't the stereotypical villain. He's a man beset with tragedy while only a young man, and while he cynically "preys" on the gullible to fund his lifelong experiments with electricity and healing, its in order to find out one of life's great questions - what waits for us after death.
For me, what's revealed at the end of Charles Jacobs' quest is where the real boogie man of the story had been waiting for us all along.
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.
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