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Samuel Murray


  • Mere Anarchy

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Woody Allen
    • Narrated By Woody Allen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For the first time ever, hear Woody Allen’s Mere Anarchy in the author’s own distinctive and hilarious voice. Here, in his first short-story collection since his three classics Getting Even, Without Feathers, and Side Effects, Allen has managed to write a book that answers the most profound questions of human existence.

    Diane says: "What can I say…?"
    "Masterpiece of humorous personal essays"
    Would you listen to Mere Anarchy again? Why?

    Having read these essays (yes, I said essays for they are in the classical sense essays, using many formal techniques and employing great erudition) before, I found them more profoundly funny than anything I can think of as read by Allen. Most of them are so tightly written they could be used as examples in composition classes, yet they are hilarious! And it's interesting to note how influential Allen's style has become. Most of today's best humorous writers--Sedaris, Vowell, and the stable of clever New Yorker essayists--owe great debts to Allen's approach to the essay, using personal excavation balanced with ironic twists to make strong comments on being an American right now.

    What about Woody Allen???s performance did you like?

    Even though I've always thought Allen a good comic actor, he becomes a great reader interpreting his own writing. Excellent on the page, these essays rise to the level of greatness when Allen reads them.

    Any additional comments?

    Mere Anarchy read by Allen represents what heights Audible books can reach. It's hard to imagine Woody Allen the actor maintaining such restraint in his performance, but as a reader he experiences his essays so sincerely that he rises above himself as an artist. Anyone who hasn't read Allen's essays may be floored to find his humor can reach such levels of profundity. He ranks with Joseph Epstein and John Updike among the greatest contemporary personal essayists of our time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Golden Notebook

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Doris Lessing
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Author Anna Wulf attempts to overcome writer’s block by writing a comprehensive "golden notebook" that draws together the preoccupations of her life, each of which is examined in a different notebook. Anna’s struggle to unify the various strands of her life – emotional, political, and professional – amasses into a fascinating encyclopaedia of female experience in the ‘50s.

    Victoria says: "Transcendent narration of a masterpiece."
    "The Best"

    First, Juliet Stevenson is to my mind the best narrator. Period. I would want her to read any book I might write--even it was about boxing.
    I think The Golden Notebook is, by general agreement, the best and most original "feminist novel." It's the one book every feminist writer of any sort looks to for advice. What's amazing to me on rereading is how completely pertinent and alive it is--and how very moving, exciting, and overwhelming. Each of her characters gets up and walks around the room in front of you. They are all now part of my life.
    The structure of The Golden Notebook--a form that has been followed (imitated?) in thousands of novels, movies and TV shows for the last fifty years--still works best here in the original as a portrayal of the idea of a woman's fragmented life. THIS IS THE ORIGINAL! Even David Foster Wallace should have acknowledged Lessing in his books, along with Gaddis and every other post-modern stylist.
    The Golden Notebook also offers brilliant glimpses into a history that has been obscured by passing events. Where else can you understand the circumstances in which becoming a Communist would be reasonable and right, then feel how shattering disillusionment would be because it was all so obviously wrong? Papa Joe Stalin? Ridiculous! But that's how we won the war. And where would Lessing's Zimbabwe be without the true believers who fought so hard to emerge from the shell of Rhodesia?
    The 2007 Nobel Prize citation said Lessing recorded the female experience "with scepticism, fire and visionary power" and "subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny," but this book sings a much greater song: a woman growing stronger and more beautiful by searching for an independent self on whom everyone depends.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1: The Complete and Authoritative Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner

    The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death. In celebration of this important milestone, here, for the first time, is Mark Twain’s uncensored autobiography, in its entirety, exactly as he left it. This major literary event offers the first of three volumes and presents Mark Twain’s authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave, as he intended.

    Susan Holland says: "Not what I was expecting..."

    I suppose I listened to the hype but I thought there might be some of Mark Twain in his prime here. Never mind that the editors' introduction is half an hour too long. Not his fault. But this is that self-impressed, dull Mark Twain who wrote all those books that aren't classics. There is little charm, no humor, and a void of interesting stories.
    Apparently he had an idea that if a biography isn't sequential, it must be special. However, he didn't publish this book. It just came out a century or so after his death. So whatever the editors and publishers had in mind, this isn't a book Twain insisted on publishing. And one thing I certainly learned about Twain is that, if there was a chance to make money without embarrassing himself, he would publish. But wait, I already knew that. I don't think I learned anything new about the guy--or the writer.
    Only historians of U.S, Grant would find huge hunks of this monster interesting. A lot of it I remember reading elsewhere. But most of all, if Twain wasn't writing humorously, he wasn't Twain for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jonathan Weiner
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau

    Jonathan Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Beak of the Finch, brings his brilliant reporting skills to the story of Seymour Benzer, the Brooklyn-born maverick scientist whose study of genetics and experiments with fruit fly genes has helped revolutionize or knowledge of the connections between DNA and behavior both animal and human.

    Timothy A. Smith says: "This is a profound science book"
    "Outstanding writing, profound understanding"

    Weiner, with Time, Love, Memory and The Beak of the Finch, has written a pair of classics that are beautifully put together with style and a sense of story. These two books also wave a hand in front of the story of DNA charting the structure and granduer of evolution. So much of what was abstract to me concerning the interaction of genetics in the last 60 years is now vivid and concrete.
    Weiner also uncovers the life of the workers in the field genetics. The exciting and the mundane labors that lead to great discoveries and understandings are portrayed with honesty and drama. Quite a feat.
    The pair of books are the best description of what can be like to be a working scientist I had ever come across. Anyone who wants to know what it feels like to be in the midst of what is sometimes surprisingly world-changing work can find out here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic

    • UNABRIDGED (30 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Gordon S. Wood
    • Narrated By Robert Fass
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Empire of Liberty, one of America's most esteemed historians, Gordon S. Wood, offers a brilliant account of the early American Republic, ranging from 1789 and the beginning of the national government to the end of the War of 1812. As Wood reveals, the period was marked by tumultuous change in all aspects of American life - in politics, society, economy, and culture.

    Joseph says: "Excellent historical writing"
    "Enlightening, brilliantly written"

    Wood has written a history period review that feels like an excellent novel. I can't remember a history account so full of startling explanations and analyses, and I thought I knew a lot about this era . Wood takes no standard assumptions for granted while sticking with solid factual evidence. He makes villains of actions and cultural mistakes, not personalities. He sees the prejudices and flaws of the times in context without passing judgment or evoking his own prejudices. Wow, this is a classic!

    The narration is so perfect I thought Fass and Wood must be twins. Fass' enthusiasm and since of drama never overplay but always charm. BTW: I was led to this work by Wood's also-brilliant The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Swann's Way

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Marcel Proust
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Swann's Way is the first novel of Marcel Proust's seven-volume magnum opus In Search of Lost Time. After elaborate reminiscences about his childhood with relatives in rural Combray and in urban Paris, Proust's narrator recalls a story regarding Charles Swann, a major figure in his Combray childhood....

    Samuel Murray says: "Not the newer, far better translation"
    "Not the newer, far better translation"

    Because the Audible "release date" is 9-10, I thought this "new" recording must be the Lydia Davis translation. If you glance at the old Moncrief version (this recording, it turns out), youi can see why everyone has said for years, "you've got to read the French to get Proust." But the critics unanimously have praised the new translations for "In Search of Lost Time" series. And Davis' Swann's Way (from 2002!) has had hymns composed in praise.

    Yet here we have a "new" release in the old Victorian Moncrief mess that has put so many English readers to sleep. Though I paid for book in December, I didn't start listening until recently and feel deceived and ripped off by Audible's lack of description. Of course, shame on me for thinking recent should mean up to date.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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