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For many years, I had avoided reading this famous book by C..S. Lewis, in spite of my admiration for his Perelandra trilogy, and other writings. I was turned off by his too-orthodox Christianity. I consider myself a Christian, but a very heretical one. For me, Lewis takes the Bible a bit too literally.
Nevertheless, and in spite of my disagreement with certain passages (for example, where he implicitly attacks Hegel and Rousseau), this book totally captivated me. My disagreements seemed unimportant in the spell of such brilliant wit and deep insight. And I had to admit that many of Lewis's moral judgments and insights (i.e., the reverse of what the demon Screwtape likes or dislikes) were quite compelling and original. And the many moments of irony had me laughing at times.
The reader is excellent, and this book is a classic for anyone who is deeply interested in profound moral and social questions, whether or not they believe (as Lewis seems to) in the existence of Satan.
Wretched, full of meaningless violence, creepy-crawly horror for its own sake, don't buy it, that's about all I have to say.
I'm convinced that this book will someday be regarded as one of the great spiritual classics of our time. Simple, yet subtle and profound, it is the very finest distillation of Gangaji's own teachings, and of what is sometimes called The Perennial Philosophy. Original in its approach, yet universal in its appeal, it speaks to us from a realm of truth that transcends all belief-systems. It can be used in conjunction with any religious path, provided that it is a path open to radical trans-dualist insight. Penetrating psychological insights and breath-taking spiritual insights harmonize in a way which can change lives.
However, the author reads rather fast at times, and in spite of her admirable simplicity of language, the meaning of the text is so dense and rich that I recommend also buying the print book. In any case, many passages require listening to over and over again.
I don't normally read "chldren's literature, and was drawn to George MacDonald only because C.S. Lewis and Tolkien had expressed admiration for him. Now I see why: his rich, often offbeat, Celtic imagination, his charming story full of mythic symbols, the sense of invisible worlds being very real, but only to those who are open to them, and the lessons learned by the characters, all make this a truly exceptional tale. In my opinion, it's far superior to Harry Potter, for example. partly because of its profound moral and mythic insight. The characters in this story learn lessons in a way that is not at all didactic, and certainly not "Victorian." A total delight for (to borrow a phrase from Harold Bloom) intelligent children of all ages.
As usual Simon Vance is impeccable. Because he happens to be my favorite reader, I bought this book solely because he had selected it as his own favorite performance... well, it's a good and original novel, but not a great one. I was very perplexed as to why Vance picked this as his favorite... he's done far better work than this. Just goes to show you: even the most gifted artists aren't necessarily objective about their own work... not that i'm saying there's something wrong with the novel. It's very well-written and engaging, but hardly profound. And it has a incomplete ending which leads one to suspect that this is intended to be a series... I'll pass on the sequel.
Spin is not only a great S-F novel, it's a rarity in that field, with vivid characters who are interesting in their own right, aside from the startling originality of the plot and events they are caught up in.
However, I find Scott Brick's narcissistic ham-act so insufferable that I almost didn't finish the audiobook, and (since there were no other narrators available) thought I'd trash it and buy the print version instead. But Wilson's book was so good that I somehow gritted my teeth and weathered Brick's narration, like getting used to a disagreeable odor. A narrator (or an actor) should always put their talent to the service of the text. Brick does the opposite: the text is a mere tool, serving his desire to display his talent. Another reviewer (Mary) finds him too sarcastic. It's true that he often sounds sarcastic, but the problem is much deeper than that: no matter what he's emoting, he's always in-your-face, a relentless, repeated injection of puerile, inappropriate melodrama into the text every chance he gets. He seems incapable of simply letting the text guide the feeling of his voice --- to the point that it's sometimes hard to even understand what the author is saying, because Brick is in the throes of his need to display some strong emotion or other. There's nothing wrong with a talented multi-dimensional narrative, and I'm not advocating dull neutrality, nor am I failing to see that Scott Brick does have considerable potential. But compare him with Simon Vance: a superb narrator who has an even greater range of voices and moods than Brick, yet NEVER allows it to get in the way of the text. Brick would do well to study this difference. His performance on Spin reminds me of nothing so much as the rantings of a Southern preacher, voice dripping with exaggerated softness at one moment, and searing with melodramatic ham-rage at another. Until I have evidence that he has fundamentally changed his approach to narration, I'll avoid his books.
There are many bad things about this dramatization, but the worst is the casting of Smiley. You get the impression that he's young and talkative, which is absurd. The people who did this should have listened to previous renderings, including the reading of the unabridged version on Audible, which with all its faults is far superior to this. I wish I hadn't bought it.
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