A very superficial old-fashinoned history. This doge did this and that doge did the other. Clearly designed so that you'll "know" what you're seeing on a brief visit to this fascinating city.
I bought this book after coming across John Shaefer's interview with the author on WNYC. In the interview, Mr. James' analysis of Ellington's music was illustrated with audio clips. What a missed opportunity to do this in the audiobook. All that would be needed would be a few bars of each piece and one's understanding of the analysis would be remarkably enhanced. Now I'm aware that radio stations have a blanket license to do anything they want with music and that an audiobook would have to separately license each song. I suspect, however, that the owner of Ellington's recorded works could be persuaded that the value of this library would grow if people really knew his work.
How do you find one thing to "love best" about one of the landmarks of world literature?
Bloom of course. Who else?
It's enlightening. I discovered in college that the way to read Shakespeare was to go to the library and read along with a recording. Performances have meaning. With the possible exception of the chapter at the newspaper office where seeing the headlines holds much of the humor, Norton's amazing characterizations make this "difficult" book both funny and profound -- jocoserious as Joyce liked to say.
Some folks attempted to make a film of Ulysses in the 60's with predictable results. By making the story concrete and visible, you lose the essence of the work: its audacious experiments in what it means to tell a story. You also trivialize it. It played like a series of charades of famous episodes.
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