There is a limit to accounts of personal tales you can put in a book...at least, they should be interesting and a bit significant to other people. Not in this book...if you want to hear the story of his mother choosing shirts for him and stories like that, things your brother-in-law could tell you for free, buy the book.
Some people earn the right to write about something just because they were there, where the action took place. Imagine a book from a Chilean miner who was trapped in the mine pit. I would buy it.
But it takes at least some talent and honesty in order to tell a good story, even if you are a first hand witness. Lauren has neither.
First of all, maybe 30% of the book is about the "harem". The rest is about a vain, self-absorbed, pretentious girl trying to convince us that she is great because of her inner qualities (not true), and not because she is pretty and guys want to have sex with her (true).
We don't need a spoilers alert, because nothing happens. The Prince has a compound with a mansion and several cottages (small houses) around a swimming pool. He uses an agent who enrolls prostitutes to live there for some months at a time and leave with a lot of money. The only thing they do is to have a sort of karaoke party every night at the mansion. The Prince comes and stays for half an hour, picks up a girl and leaves. That's all. Day after day is the same routine. They never leave the compound, they never get to know the country, they practically don't talk to the prince. If you are expecting adventure, romance, exotism, you won't find it in this book. There is more action in the bar in the corner of your street than in this so-called harem.
Lauren is so insignificant to the Prince that the only time she leaves the compound to see him at his office, they leave her waiting for four hours locked in an office without a bathroom, waiting for his arrival. When she is taken to see the Sultan (the Prince's brother) he doesn't even care to sleep with her, only asking for oral sex. His dogs probably get more consideration. All the while, Lauren thinks she is special and romanticizes the whole sordid thing. When Penthouse playmates arrive at the compound, she tries to convince us that she is so much better than they are. (why?)
Skip this one.
This was one of the worst books J have read in the last years. I should have been smarter, how come a person who is not that old and has not been to the Moon can be in her THIRD autobiography? Anyways, the reviews were great, and I tried.
For starters, the book is horribly written. Mary is a self-absorbed person and she decided that she would be a poet. So she tried to write prose as poetry, and the result is catastrophic, a story with awful metaphors in practically every paragraph (I was bent and thin like a wire hanger). I mean, in EVERY paragraph. She uses these cheap tricks in order to avoid the hard work of properly defining a personality for the characters, of creating a good background for the history. In fact, there is no history. She is a cry baby who is in existential crisis all the time.
Neither does the author have any kind of self-understanding. It is obvious that she got most of what she had in life because she was pretty (look at her pictures). She was an ingenue who attracted guys with a certain witty and charming "lost" feeling. Ouch. When she has to deal with real life, with a relationship, she falls apart and drinks. It must be hard to be an old, wasted coquette. Mary is the kind of girl that, were she ugly, would be nothing.
The mystery for me is how books like this are successful. I guess people nowadays confuse good literature with witty descriptions of absolutely boring and prosaic activities. It is just the pinnacle of presumptions, a person describes her taking out the garbage and mixes some Proust's maxims and that's great art. I blame David Sedaris, Augusteen Burroughs and Chelsea Handler for practically destroying good American literature. Karr just jumped on the gold bandwagon.
The narration is awful (the writer narrates the book). She displays the enthusiasm and the emotion of a DMV clerk.
I don't have much to add to the comments below. The book is fascinating, the story is thrilling and the characters memorable. It is a book you have to read.
My main reason to post this review is to pay homage to Humphrey Bower, the narrator. What a spectacular job he did. What Scott Brick does for non-fiction, he does for fiction. He is a rare talent.
You may be fooled by the many positive reviews about this book, which I believe are mainly by Winona's hard-core fans. However, if you are not a fan, you should skip this one.
We live in a time when ghost writers are available for any rich or famous personality to tell their stories and these books are sure to get a good audience. This is unfortunate, because now one doesn't need to know how to write, nor to have a good story to tell before publishing.
Wynonna's book has basically three parts:
1) Her crazy, gold digging mother destroys her childhood and adolescence by using her as a child singer in a country music career. Wynonna is basically a prop in her mother's show, what a doll is to a ventriloquist. She grows up without developing any maturity, insecure and codependent.
2) Wynonna as an adult is wildly successful. Because of her mother issues, she has weight problems, spends millions in an irresponsible lifestyle, and doesn't manage her life, her career nor anything else. She is a 30 year-old teenager. Monster mommy still stays in backstage, pulling her strings and manipulating her.
3) Wynonna is almost 40 (yawnnnn...) and finds a psychology clinic which helps her to have some very basic ideas about how to control her life. She marries a guy who is sane and helps her to have some (just a little) independence from monster mommy. Now she is free to enjoy her millions of dollars and millions of adoring fans.
The problem is that Wynonna's life is not inspiring. I like memoirs because we usually find there tales of courage, of exceptional trials or unusual situations. Wynonna's life, however, apart from the singing career which she doesn't detail nor analyze at all, is just boring. How can anyone sympathize with her problems, like not being able to control her spending millions of dollars in useless junk ?
Wynonna still lives the life of a teenager.
PS: the narrator is superb, as usual with audible.
This is not literature, even though the author poses as a writer. This is a girl's diary, and a bad one as that.
Marya, more as good marketer than a good writer, gives us voyeurs what we want: a peep hole into the life of someone extreme, a lifestyle that most of us, in our boring 9 to 5 lives, maybe would like to taste once in a while. We live in a world of celebrities, of gossip, of tabloids paying millions of dollars for the pictures of a newborn. Marya was very lucky to carve a niche, as the troubled teen who cuts herself, has promiscuous sex and a wild life. Who wouldn't want to peek into that? Had she tried to make a herself a name with a non-fiction book, she wouldn't exist as an author today.
But literature this isn't. The book is totally monotonous in its maniac self-absorption. Bipolar? Where is the depression? Where is the self-analysis that comes with a reflexive mood? Not there. It is just a succession of very superficial daily happenings, one after the other, and their superficial effect on the author. In order to build the story, the impressions she brings from her childhood sound totally fake and constructed. Who the heck remembers vivid feelings when you were a 8 year-old?
The poor narrator (a very good one) should be paid double just for the hurrying she had to do.
This is a lost opportunity for a reflection on the existential and philosophical aspects of bipolar disorder, on the role of the bipolar person in the world. In the end, Marya's life was not even tragic, as she comes out as having much fun and being extraordinarily lucky with her first book. The real lives of bipolar people are much, much harder. Again, this is just a diary.
Koren misses the point. The whole book is about a warning to kids who drink. But she blames everybody for her drinking, especially the bad "boys" who can't treat her right. However, it is obvious by the book that the reason she drinks is to be cool, extrovert and to be a "macho" girl, who can do anything, including trashing a fraternity house at night.
Then she blames people for not treating her like a lady. Come on, she behaves like a bad girl and what does she expect ?
Drunkness in the US is mainly caused by the competitive society that demands that everybody be a winner, an extrovert, a social champion. No place for shy, sensitive, romantic people. That's why American girls are turning into rude, aggressive, macho types. Booze only helps them to accomplish that.
Koren defintely needs to look herself in the mirror and realize her own guilt. She was just as bad as the other girls, the only difference is that they didn't need booze like her. And maybe that she is completely narcisistic.
The narration in the audio book is superb. I guess the voice of the narrator is so sweet that even Jezebel would sound nice. I am glad I didn't buy the text book, otherwise I would have thrown it away.
Unfortunately the book is really boring. The author takes hours describing things that are not special or worthy of attention at all. Even the interviews are uninspiring.
It is amazing that he has written Fight Club, one of the best scripts to date.
Pass this one.
Positive points first:
Mrs Graham points to one of the most important problems in the christian community, i.e., the use of a mask to show that you are strong in your faith, while at the same time you are hurting inside. This helps to turn churches in what most are now, social clubs.
She also has some good points about God's love being the same for everybody, no matter who you are. And, of course, as with any book that quotes the Bible, you have biblical truth.
However, for any book to merit its publication, it has to bring to us an important, unique message that will make a difference in our lives. This is not the case. Mrs Graham's is a very common situation: she faces divorce, makes some mistakes, learns that God keeps loving her. That's all.
The worst part, actually, is that she presents a kind of christian mysticism that bases her actions a lot on feelings and " things that come to her head", like praise song lyrics. This is clear when she says she felt peace after forcing her daughter to give up her children for adoption. For anyone reading the book, it is clear that this was an enourmous opportunity for Mrs Graham to give up her self centerdness and serve someone as a Christian should, learning to focus sacrificially on her daughter and grand-daughter. This causes eventually her daughter to follow a life of crisis and anguish.
However, Mrs Graham says she " felt" God told her this was the right thing to do. The book is somewhat dangerous in the way that it makes the reader to focus on his feelings (which can be very deceiving) and not on the plain truth that is on the Gospel. Unfortunately, this is just one more of the books promoting christianity as "self help" and not help for the others.
Finally, the most ironic point in the book is that, even though Mrs Graham claims that it took her much effort to free herself from the burden of being Billy's daughter, the book obviously was only published because of this very fact !
Audiobooks are made to be listened to. The author unfortunately has a speech problem, and it is very hard to understand what he says (babbles). You have to pay lots of attention, which means this book is hard to be listened when driving, for example. Otherwise you lose the meaning of words and whole sentences...to make things worse, he reads TOO fast.
I just can't understand why he decided to narrate the book.
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