I thought that Bel Canto was terrific so I have made a point of reading everything else Ann Patchett has written. This is middling -- not as good as State of Wonder or the one about being reared in a home for unwed mothers, but better than Run and the non-fiction book about her friend who died. A homey sort of tale. I'm a guy and it's a girl's book. All about developing relationships among disparate women who have nothing in common but a distant relationship with a gay impresario who is now dead. Social commentary. Worth the time but not much more.
I ordered this because I have a lot of respect for Richard Delman's opinions and he loved it. Given that intro, I was disappointed. Pretty light fare. Hollywood meets the Ligurian coast of Italy in the 1960s. And I know Richard thinks ballereini as a narrator is almost as good as the incomparable Frank Muller but in this case the comparison is not close. The Italian seems store bought and emotions do not come through in the narration. Save your money. And read Richard's review of McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, perhaps the best audiobook of all time.
I bought this because I found it in some list of good legal thrillers, but it's not that. There is a court case, or at least a legal case that doesn't ever get to court, but the only reason to read this book is to explore urban Canadian social relationships. Set in Toronto, with a cast of ethnic characters that is mildly interesting except for the fact that most American cities have more of an array. The denouement is hardly mind-blowing. I found the whole thing pallid, to tell the truth. The narrator is just OK. Someone with more range could make the ethnic appearances more interesting.
I expected quite a lot from So Much Pretty and having read it now, I'm a bit let down. I think it would work better in print. The material is a melange of filed statements, one-person interviews, school essays, diary entries. They are dated, but skip around in time. I often wished I could go back and see where this bit fell in the overall plot "development" which I put in quotes because it was never developed, just finally conveyed enough information to get what happened. The narration was OK given those constraints. It had to be by a woman because the overall message is that men are bad, bad, bad.
A vehicle for Frank Muller. This is a light story of Oscar Wilde's lecture tour of the American west in the 1880s. The story is fun but nothing remarkable. What is treasurable is Frank Muller's narration, and this is the perfect vehicle for it. He gets to be a French countess, a German count, a Negro valet, a pansy (not Wilde in this story), Doc Holliday, a drunken marshal, a murderous lout, and New York wise guy, and a winsome local lass, and others. What a performance. Give yourself a treat.
Never read it in print, but the narration was very good, despite failure to convey female voice.
Should say Abby - but she was left incomplete
understated, and a bit self-critical
made me want the next one, which I gather will be in May
not bad at all
Yes, good Perry. He usually has his principal characters being chased around the country using ingenious skip technology, but this time, the principals are chasing the bad guys with some of the same smarts. Good change of pace. Kramer is just the right reader for Perry.
I put this off for a while because I thought that fiction could not do justice to the Philby Burgess conspiracy. But this is not really about the 50-years ago conspiracy. It's a contemporary spy chase yarn with an academic protagonist caught up in spy doings and killings, with pretty girls turning up. Putin is in it under another name. That made it lighter and not a bad way to spend time. The reader was good enough not to be noticeable.
I had always ween ATKM on lists of the best American political novels, but in re-reading it 30 years later if found it more southern gothic with politics in the background. You think of Huey Long of course, but his life and the political implications of it were much more significant than that of Willy Stark. Michael Emerson's read is creditable, given the richness of the southern accents he is empowered to convey. I was mildly disappointed overall.
I have been waiting for Ann Patchett to write something as good as Bel Canto, and I'm still waiting. But State of Wonder comes in a clear second. I usually don't like women narrators because they work too obviously hard to convey male voices, but this one did a good job and the most important characters are women anyway. Surprisingly good insights into corporate culture. I enjoyed it.
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