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Ian C Robertson

Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.

South Australia, Australia | Member Since 2010

ratings
97
REVIEWS
84
FOLLOWING
3
FOLLOWERS
19
HELPFUL VOTES
168

  • Of Mice and Men

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By John Steinbeck
    • Narrated By Clarke Peters
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (38)

    Streetwise George and his big, childlike friend Lennie are drifters, searching for work in the fields and valleys of California. They have nothing except the clothes on their back, and a hope that one day they’ll find a place of their own and live the American dream. But dreams come at a price. Gentle giant Lennie doesn’t know his own strength, and when they find work at a ranch he gets into trouble with the boss’s daughter-in-law. Trouble so bad that even his protector George may not be able to save him....

    Ian C Robertson says: "As Good as They Get"
    "As Good as They Get"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There was a time in my life when I read at least two books every year. These were Conrad's, "Heart of Darkness" and this one. Both are short by modern standards (recent Booker award notwithstanding), but each gives as complete a picture as one might hope for through the medium of words. I say this to disclose my bias. Yet, it has been ten years since I last read this classic. It has always been inspiring for me, particularly the account of the the demise of the old dog and the final juxtaposition of the two friends' farewell. He does juxtaposed story lines so well. But what I love most about Steinbeck is that he does not waste a word. Each one seems especially chosen, and it's hard to think of a better one to replace it. Truly intelligent design.

    The reader will probably know the story and perhaps even the ending. I won't precise it. But even knowing one or both won't spoil the climax in my view.

    The performance was first class too. If I could have given 4.5 stars, I would've. The only reason I haven't given 5 stars is because of the relativity against which I rate Ian Richardson and Linden Gregory. Peters is really very good indeed. His transition from male to female, black, to white, Lenny to George is almost faultless. I would not let the lost half star deter you from this excellent interpretation of a loved favourite.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Amy Alkon
    • Narrated By Carrington MacDuffie
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (24)

    We live in a world that's very different from the one in which Emily Post came of age. Many of us who are nice (but who also sometimes say "f*ck") are frequently at a loss for guidelines about how to be a good person who deals effectively with the onslaught of rudeness we all encounter. To lead us through this this miasma of modern manners, syndicated columnist Amy Alkon - The Advice Goddess - gives us a new set of manners for our 21st-century lives.

    Melinda says: "F-ing Funny and Factual"
    "Too Carrie For Me"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the titles I picked-up on recommendation. I can't say that I enjoyed it, although at times it made me smile; for example the Title.
    It's written under topics that purport to be inclusive, but I got the impression that it was a selection of prior advice columns collected together under a general tag. For example, the same sentence or series of sentences appears on two or three occasions and really do not warrant repetition.
    Also, the text sounds a lot like extracts out of "Sex in the City", without the fourway tension or bedroom antics. Much of this text I disagree with (particularly the misleading of others to avoid a confrontation and anonymous notes). I think I am too direct to apply much of The Goddess' advice.
    Still, that is not a good reason to pan a book. The narrative is entertaining and sharp (like the bits that bite - kids on planes, for example).
    It's not for me, but if you like "She's Not that Into You", then you'd probably like this too. I liked "Sex In the City" (eventually), but I guess I'm not ready to take Amy's advice (which, I suspect, she's cool with).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Snowman: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 7

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (114)
    Performance
    (86)
    Story
    (84)

    The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier.

    Lia says: "Gripping - Practically a horror novel"
    "Murder made personal"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Now I think I know Harry a whole lot better than when I picked up "The Bat". He and I have been through a lot together; he, and I and Jack and Jim. Long hours searching and not finding; looking in the right places for the wrong things. We have come such a long way, he and I. Well, that's what it feels like.
    Jo Nesbo has come a long way, too. I wrote in an earlier review ("The Redeemer") that the plots are getting more complex and the stories richer. But, even then (only two books before this one) for all of Nesbo's Hole anti-hero charm, it was still a far cry from the sticker that appears on all his books, "The Next Stieg Larsson". I understand (from web reviews) that Nesbo hates that epithet, and who would blame him. Still, it was meant as a compliment, I'm sure, and this book takes a huge stride in the Larsson direction. It is blacker, more daring and very suspenseful. I can well see why it is being mooted as a motion picture. For my part, I highly recommended it in this genre, .
    Barrett is, as I have said, now Harry Hole; tall, thin, gaunt, with the alcoholic's pallor. All of that is in his voice. Worth a good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Salman Rushdie at the 92nd Street Y

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 36 mins)
    • By Salman Rushdie
    • Narrated By Christopher Hitchens
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (22)

    Mr. Rushdie, the author of Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses and The Ground Beneath Her Feet, reads from his newest novel, Shalimar the Clown.

    Ian C Robertson says: "In the midst of genius"
    "In the midst of genius"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This time I read the blurb correctly; it is indeed Rusdie interviewed by Hitchens. It's not as good as the one I picked up by mistake (which is all interview and wherein they rehearse some of the stories that they abbreviate in this version), but it is still very entertaining.
    Rushdie reads extracts from his then new release, Shalimar the Clown ( a great book). The reading is not great, but the insight, the wit and the freakish brilliance of Rushdie is on show in every word of every line. The little tribute to great Indian writers (by Hitchens) is also very interesting.
    Another hour well spent. When someone asks you that old chestnut, if you could have dinner with anyone at all, you'll know to say Salmund (alas, Hitchens has left us).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Coriolanus: Arkangel Shakespeare

    • ORIGINAL (3 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Paul Jesson, Marjorie Yates, Ewan Hooper
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Rome is a city divided, nobility and common-people locked in mutual suspicion. The patrician Caius Marcius, later called Coriolanus, is Rome's greatest soldier, but his proud refusal to accommodate himself to the demands of the plebeians leads to banishment and death. A Roman history as well as tragedy, Coriolanus is a complex and subtle exploration of the themes of absolution and compromise, both in the political world and in the life of the individual.

    Ian C Robertson says: "A Story That Keeps Repeating"
    "A Story That Keeps Repeating"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, my thanks to Ted (whom I follow) for alerting me to this series. It is truly a great find. It has set me on a course to explore the lesser known Shakespeare's.
    Secondly, a quick note about what you might want to have handy if you want to do the same thing. Unlike a novel, it is not easy to follow the many voices unless you have the script handy. I struggled with this until I got the Letterpress Folio edition out. So, bonus, I get to hear a play I don't know so well and the sublime pleasure of following it in one of the best reproductions in print. If you don't have a Letterpress handy, any old version will suffice so you can follow who says what.
    Thirdly, I found the production values to be a bit dated, but that was more than made up for by the full cast reproduction.
    Finally, I thought the play itself a very interesting and topical one. It has so many ramifications for the present day lust for power, the spiral of power and corruption and the modern parable that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Acton). One can see how easily it might be adapted to more contemporary times. I have got the Raphe Fiennes movie on order now so that I test the theory.
    I am looking forward to the next wet, winter day encounter with a lesser known William

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Autobiography of Black Hawk

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Black Hawk
    • Narrated By Brett Barry
    Overall
    (1192)
    Performance
    (1026)
    Story
    (1019)

    This story is told in the words of a tragic figure in American history - a hook-nosed, hollow-cheeked old Sauk warrior who lived under four flags while the Mississippi Valley was being wrested from his people. The author is Black Hawk himself - once pursued by an army whose members included Captain Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant Jefferson Davis. Perhaps no Indian ever saw so much of American expansion or fought harder to prevent that expansion from driving his people to exile and death.

    Darwin8u says: "A NO HOLD BARRED and unflinching narrative"
    "Same Story, Different People"
    Overall
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    Story

    It has taken me a while to get around to listening to this Member's Gift, but I am glad that I have now taken the time. It tells an all to familiar story of colonial misconduct perpetrated upon an essentially honourable, less modern civilisation.
    In this autobiographical account, the Chief of the Sauk nation, Black Hawk, tells his life story concentrating on the years of the American Revolution and the expansion of settlers across indigenous lands. He states this is to correct the record. The tale is very familiar, although at least the Indians were required to be conquered and, in theory, they were protected by law; something that did not occur in my home until 20 years ago, this month (June, 2014). Even allowing for the fact that the story is likely to seek to paint the Sauk in the best light, and thereby paints the settlers in the worst light, the tale is too familiar to be fanciful, in my opinion. It made me angry and sad to listen to it and to feel its resonance.
    The text is read by Brett Barry as written (or I should say, dictated) by Black Hawk. The telling is appropriate and authentic, without being inflammatory.
    A thoroughly good listen to a thoroughly bad experience.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The God Delusion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    Overall
    (69)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (57)

    As the author of many classic works on science and philosophy, Richard Dawkins has always asserted the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm it has inflicted on society. He now focuses his fierce intellect exclusively on this subject, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

    Ian says: "Excellent"
    "An Agreeably Disagreeable Book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have read a lot Dawkins and Hitchens and the difference between the two, telling the same tale about gods, is usually quite stark. On this occasion however Dawkins delves down into the arena, get his hands dirty with invective and (particularly at the start and the finish) resorts to rhetoric. Of course, in his inimatable way, he acknowledges he's doing just this and he even has the good grace to sound apologetic about that. However, the method is not as persuasive as I have come to expect from him, although the key (middle) Chapters return to the well learned practices of his past writing, full of sound reasoning, inferences and evidence.
    I have some sympathy for the lack of evidence, but then I am already a "convert", to borrow from the iconology of the religiously minded. It is hard to prove a negative, as every lawyer will confirm. Still, I would have been happier with the central Chapters without the soapbox start and finish. That said, the starkness of the language and the boldness of the frontal attack have the consequence of making even a convert think about the extent of their conversion; has it gone far enough? To paraphrase a former PM, this is a book for the true disbelievers. It will probably not persuade anyone else, which is a pity.
    Again, the combination of Lalla Ward and Dawkins works well for the listener.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Christopher Hitchens in Conversation with Salman Rushdie

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 16 mins)
    • By Christopher Hitchens
    • Narrated By Salman Rushdie
    Overall
    (115)
    Performance
    (100)
    Story
    (95)

    Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been both a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant. He is a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian, by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide.

    Ian C Robertson says: "Very Entertaining"
    "Very Entertaining"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I confess to have completely misread the blurb for this title. I thought it was Hitchens interviewing Rushdie. In fact, it is the opposite. However, that doesn't matter. The discussion on the eve of the release of Hitchens' third to last book, the autobiographical, Hitch 22, is stimulating, interesting and very entertaining. The source of the name alone is worth the listen.
    Rushdie is, of course, a literary giant. Hitchens was one of the most read, and a very well read, commentator. Their long time friendship is apparent on listening and their literary games are in a class apart.
    You won't regret the hour or so of your life you spend with these two.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Sense of an Ending

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Julian Barnes
    • Narrated By Richard Morant
    Overall
    (837)
    Performance
    (704)
    Story
    (699)

    Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour, and wit. Maybe Adrian was more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life. Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

    Melinda says: "'Something Happened'..."
    "Deservedly Praised"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These days we are all skeptical. This includes our perception of literary awards. Once upon a time, a prestigious award like the MAN Booker (then the Booker) would have been a strong recommendation to read and own a novel. Now I sometimes regard it as a forewarning! Accordingly, the last two awards of that famous prize have been a pleasant return to the old form.
    In this deservedly praised novel Barnes achieves the rare feat of capturing a time and place. Actually, it's not so much A time or A place as capturing the state of mind that, I suspect, 90% of his listeners have visited or inhabited sometime in their lives. That place and time seemed very familiar to me although the plot line and my experience is quite different. I think this is a rare gift of insight.
    I won't delve into the plot because its unfolding is a pleasure, a surprise and a joy. It made me wince and smile, in turns. Also, the book is blessedly short. Oh for the return of the short novel. Bravo!
    The late Richard Morant's reading was very good, too. It completely suited the text and the principals. It took me a while to stop thinking of Julian Clary (because Morant has, for some reason, a Surrey accent), but that wasn't much of a distraction.
    Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Redeemer: A Harry Hole Thriller, Book 6

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Jo Nesbo
    • Narrated By Sean Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (73)

    One freezing night in Oslo Christmas shoppers gather to listen to a Salvation Army street concert. An explosion cuts through the music, and a man in uniform falls to the ground, shot in the head at point-blank range.Harry Hole and his team have little to work with: no immediate suspect, no weapon and no motive. But when the assassin discovers he has shot the wrong man, Harry Hole’s troubles have only just begun.

    Lia says: "Another Good Jo Nesbo Book"
    "Getting Better"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    By the time one reaches the tipping point in a series, they might be expecting the standard and pace to level out. This is certainly not the case for Nesbo's Harry Hole series. This title is a marked development (for the better) on the previous title, "The Devil's Star"; not that it was poor - it was the best in the series to that point. It is also a world apart from the more recently released "The Cockroaches", which was in fact Book 2, and the book that I last read. In other words, Nesbo's plots are getting more complex, the characters are getting deeper (as they should after 5 books) and suspense is the winner. I normally rate myself on being able to pick the plot twist in this genre, and, although I picked the principal plot line, the sub-plot was a surprise to me.
    Again, Sean Barrett does a bang-up job as Harry; again, I am looking forward to the next installment (especially with the high praise that has been bestowed upon it).
    This title is well worth the read, but it probably is improved if you have read Books 3, 4 and 5 first. It can stand alone, but it is much better with the back-story intact.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Letters to a Young Lawyer

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Alan M. Dershowitz
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    As defender of both the righteous and the questionable, Alan Dershowitz has become perhaps the most famous and outspoken attorney in the land. Whether or not they agree with his legal tactics, most people would agree that he possesses a powerful and profound sense of justice. In this meditation on his profession, Dershowitz writes about life, law, and the opportunities that young lawyers have to do good and do well at the same time.

    Jacqueline says: "A pleasure"
    "Only for Lawyers, But Not Just Young Ones"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I truly enjoyed this title. Not only id it resonate with my memories, but it reflected many of my own lamentations about what what I consider to be a profession, not just a job. If that is too hard a distinction, I apologise. My intent is a reflection of my own view, not an intent to disparage working in any other job or profession.
    I particularly delighted in the discussion of what it is to be a good person and aa good lawyer, the drive for the almighty dollar and the unachievable, but commendable, ambition to be a good lawyer. What comes with the latter is being disliked sometimes and loved at others. Sometimes there is great reward (money or justice) and other times great disappointment (loss or injustice). Dersh' (pardon the familiarity) gets it right, in my opinion.
    Joe Barret is a good substitute for the real thing. I would have loved the author to read this (as he did "Genesis of Justice"), but absent him, Barret gives a wonderful performance. I have listed to parts of it 4 or 5 times already and I will listen to the whole again within the year. It, the title, has become something that I think I will give to all my out going Clerks.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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