I've been meaning to read this author for a while, and am so glad to have finally gotten around to it via audiobook. The narrator enhanced what is already a brilliant book with endearing characters by 50% or so.
This seems to be a typical Peter Hessler book; it's a meandering, well-researched and well-written examination of a quickly transforming nation. Sometimes I wish the trajectory the book travels was a bit straighter, but overall, I respect the author's design and intentions.
However, the narrator was ridiculous! I can't tell if he enhances the book by adding unintentional humor, or if he completely derails it. All of his renderings of the Chinese people quoted in the book make it sound like they are born-and-bred New Yorkers, and possibly chain-smoking New Yorkers. (I suppose born-and-bred New Yorkers might disagree with me — this is an opinion of someone not from there.) Still, I wish the publisher had hired someone who is more familiar with Chinese accents, and who could have reproduced subtle and diverse voices for the many different people featured in this book.
In the end, I grew accustomed to Kim Basinger's odd way of reading, her funny way of pausing midway through a sentence at an unlikely spot as if she had forgotten what she was in the middle of doing. This book is so lovely, though, that I often wished for a better, more sensitive and more dynamic reader.
Stories within stories within stories, some of which are set on the sumptuous coast of Italy — a bonus!
It is easy to forget that one is reading a work of nonfiction with Beyond the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo's writing is so vivid, her storytelling so precise, her insights eerily telephathic, or so it seems, that one gets quickly enveloped into this story of the ruthless struggle for life, death — and brief, aching glimpses of a better life — that these slum residents endure day after day. I am amazed by this book, by Boo, by her three years living in the slum, and by the horrors she depicts of those who are among the poorest in our unjust and inequitable world.
I loved the character of Arthur Opp, and would have preferred the whole story be told from his point of view, but that would have been a radically different novel. The reader of Arthur was wonderful, too, with a gravelly, warm voice that seems to rumble from his depths — exactly what you imagine a 550-lb. cultured man would sound like. I didn't care as much for the reader for the young boy, nor did I like his character quite as much.
The story as a whole is sad and disappointing, although the book ends on a possibly uplifting note. There are some minor inconsistencies, too, here and there throughout the book, which felt a bit sloppy.
I was drawn in by the potential for drama, romance, great characters, wonderful portrait of Bombay, and the unbelievable story and plot that this novel seemed to promise. But I was disappointed. It's overwritten, cliched, and frequently mawkish. I stopped listening after Part II.
For some reason, this book is highly touted. I found the writing uninspired and the young protagonist at times very unlikable (as in when he's beating his dog). I understand cruelty begets cruelty, and this boy certainly dealt with too many harsh men in his life, but it is still hard to find sympathy for a young boy who's sadistic at times, even if he feels shame afterwards.
Stegner writes about nature and people with heart-stopping beauty.
Stegner's acute rendering of people, their complexities and struggles.
Every time he describes the land, the sky, a character's expression.
Jim Peck. Although he's an infuriating idealistic and naive hippie in narrator Joe Allston's eyes, he is also a character in search of truth, beauty and purity. But he inevitably gets tripped up by his own falseness and darkness, like we all do.
More about the book hunters of the Renaissance.
I guess so.
Possibly as a documentary about Lucretius and the discovery of his poem. I'd avoid Greenblatt's over-wrought hypothesis that this one book changed the course of humanity, though.
I wouldn't buy this as an audiobook. Possibly it's better in hardcopy.
Not sure. Probably equal?
Gary Shteyngart — they both create lovable, wacky, sensitive characters who have to deal with difficult but endearing family and a society in which they don't quite belong.
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