Maybe, maybe not. The Interestings has the potential for some great character development but sorta disappoints with predictability.
With 60s being such a deep field of events, The Interestings could have opened up a little more to the pop culture relative to the characters lives. They seemed a little claustrophobic in their involvements...But hey, you don't see me writing any novels so I give kuods to all authors. And I did listen to the entire book to see what would happen. That is always a gold star for a writer.
Not a bad book, just didn't like it as much as Merullo's the "Breakfast With Buddha."
Maybe it was the theme of death which set up the antagonism for the plot of the book. Maybe it was just me, having just finished "An Available Man" by Hilma Wollitzer, which also sponsored a newly minted widower. Maybe I was just tired of listening to a man lament the death of his wife, even if done in a decent, respectful way.
I do love the narrated voice of the Rinpoche as created by Sean Runnette. I love the personality Merullo paints for the Rinpoche.
Of course, at times, Merullo has the Rinpoche ask about an Americanism or slang or custom that you figure he must have already run into at least once in his sojourn in America, having interacted enough with the culture to marry an American and start a commune on its premises. These instances can seem like an obvious attempt at preaching to the choir in some aspects-- as can the somewhat contrived meetings with typical jerks who expose their prejudices too facilely and a trifle predictably and who just beg for an appropriate Buddhist dialogue which will set their errors aright.
I understand Merullo might want each Buddha book to stand alone and feels a new reader may need these set-ups, but reader of the Breakfast book might tire of the repetition.
In the long run, though, who am I to critique a book about a Buddhist monk? I can hear the Rinpoche laughing.
The sound of one hand not clapping.
Early in her book,Hilma Wolitzer presents her reader with the ultimate plot complication… a death. And from there, a tried and true plot line which is as old as cuneiform--how do the survivors cope afterwards. And, in some hands holding the quill, it can be a very tiresome and predictable contrivance.
However, she is a master at dialogue and therefore character development. I always feel that I'd read a 1,000 page novel about someone going to pick up bread at the grocery store if the author makes me care about the protagonist and their journey. Wolitzer definitely does that.
Also, Fred Sullivan is an excellent narrator.
You'll enjoy this book, I promise.
See the title.
The author might have more facility as a poet. The words are strung together beautifully. Unfortunately, the words don't develop characters that I actually care about.
I hated to do it but I gave up on it.
When I listened to the first hour or so of the book, I had really, really high hopes. Great descriptive writing and at first, really deep character development. Initially, I found that the primary characters had real foibles and color to their personality. Something to get your teeth into, as far as caring about their lives and relationships. But it seemed the author got tired of furthering that development and let them slip into less depth than the beginning promised. I can't go int the most disappointing aspects of the character plot lines without spoiling several critical plot junctures, so I won't. I'll just say, I didn't like the shallow twist(s) that occur several times with several characters.
I like science fiction type plots and this had promised to take its readers into a time-travel proposal without too much scientific glossing… just enough to suspend disbelief and to get the story moving. Unfortunately, as it moved along, it just felt like the book needed a little more guts to the temporal relationships.
The narrator is pretty good… although his cadence often remained static and could have used a little more interpretation of emotion at times.
Overall, a good listen but not one where you miss the characters at the end, as I was sure that I was going to at the beginning.
Liane Moriarty manages to take a tried and true soap operatic plot stand-by and make it interesting enough to keep a listener involved. Her characters are fun, intelligent and pretty well fleshed out. You feel you know them a few pages into the book and you do care what happens to them. Moriarty gets her readers invested in her characters, always the hallmark of an A+ author.
I enjoyed the book. You most likely will, also.
(FYI: The following is not really a spoiler since most of the synopses of the book explain the crux of the plot. But if you want an entirely fresh take, maybe you will want to skip my following insights, just in case I say something that takes too much from your own discoveries while listening. :)
So, as I was saying, BUT…..
If she had only pushed a little harder at the boundaries of what might possibly happen when someone becomes an amnesiac.
Moriarty early on conveys that the problem is more of a nuisance and strange interlude -- not one of a medical tragedy, so I guess I wanted more tangles and entertaining scenarios where Alice's memory loss gets her into a pickle. It just seems that the plot begged for some excruciatingly revealing but inadvertent situations that could put Alice in a situation that was comedic and still moved the plot along, too, based on her inability to recall most of her recent past.
There was a mix of the serious and the lighthearted, somewhat. But at times I couldn't tell if Moriarty wanted to get a little too dark, at the expense of the more lighthearted which was set at the beginning.
Anyway. There are well developed relationships and well written insights into the characters inner lives. There will be times that you want to yell at Alice, "Just ASK what happened!" But then, that is the point of the book and the involvement you have with it. And that makes it a pretty entertaining ride.
And one word about the narrator: Excellent.
I never quite knew where I stood with Haruki Murakami's hero, Tsukuru Tazaki. But that was not a bad thing.
I once read a novel by Joyce Carol Oates - I don't recall which one - but I remember thinking, as I dove deeper into it, that it was like climbing a brick wall with no end. I sort of felt this way while listening to Murakami's tale of the life of Tsukuru Tazaki. Was he a good man? Is he really a bad man? Where did my sympathies lie? Murakami gave me just enough information about his character to keep me involved in his life's journey while also feeling that I may not be getting the whole story on Tsukuru's flaws or better qualities. I will say it was quite the existential travel, like Sartre's "No Exit." Where was the moral compass I kept looking for from the narrator? But that structural vertigo did keep me interested in discovering the roots of Tsukuru's character.
Anyway. A good book keeps you thinking. Not only about the plot's twists and resolutions but also about the structure the author chooses to use. It seems to me, that this book could be used in Lit classes to excellent purpose.
Some reviews had mentioned they found the narrator's slight Japanese accent to be patronizing in some fashion. I didn't think of it that way. Since I was listening to a reading in English, of a Japanese novel, I felt it added color. (Ironically, given the book's title.) Like a person from Japan was telling me, in his second language, his story as we travelled on a long trip.
Also and lastly, I'll mention one of those weird synchronicity things that I often notice and think is kinda neat. Right after I finished the book I noticed Murakami had a short story The New Yorker. Also, I was in a bookstore not long after and saw another book by him on an endcap. Having never heard of Murakami until I found The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, I found it interesting. Of course, it probably just means Murakami is extra hot right now.
If you like a book written by a writer's writer, you'll find this book to your taste.
From the opening line to the last Stephen King brings his A-Game. You NEVER lose interest in this book. And it's a hefty tome.
I think just about everyone agrees that Stephen King's ability to breathe literary life into his characters is pretty much unchallenged in today's fiction field and he does a superb job of instilling pathos and humanity into all of his characters in this novel.
11/22/63 is part fantasy, much like all of King's work. But unlike a lot of his work (in which the fantastic lands in the horror genre,) this novel doesn't veer into the realm of the scary and undead. The main twist in this book includes a time flux in the plot's construction--which involves a lot of nostalgic play for anyone that was born in the fifties or sixties. Yet, the story is full of depth, which means anyone who loves an excellent character-based tale with nuanced intrigue will have no problem getting into this book.
And don't let the title cool your interest if you think the book heavily relies on a million facts about the assassination of JFK. It doesn't. That aspect creates a translucent "time period" backdrop for a really fine travel into one man's quest to create a different ending to many things.
This novel keeps you in that loop and waiting to discover if he succeeds.
I am not a physicist, biologist or nuclear scientist. But as a (somewhat) normal human with a (reasonable) amount of curiosity, I found this book engaging. I admit to not following every science based nuance and facet that the author presented in these 13 anomalies of the scientific world but I did feel that Michael Brooks had dumbed down the intricacies as much as was possible for the lay reader and still preserve the essential ingredients of the Things.
If you were drawn to the title, you will be drawn into the book's intriguing facts. The narration is superb and it's the type of book that can handle a second or third listen, just to nail down some of the fine points you may have missed during the first listen. If you've already read a few reviews & like what they say, you will find the unreasonable 13 Things excellent fodder for your gray matter to chew upon.
If you decide against listening to or reading 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, Mr. Brooks will have to edit the title to then read: 14 Things That Don't Make Sense.
First off, Doll-Baby is superbly narrated. January LaVoy masterfully adapts her reading to her characters' personalities and origins. This definitely gives the story depth and adds flesh to the bones of the individuals in the tale.
The story itself is good… it holds your interest, but Ms. McNeal often stunts her tale by a too simplistic sentence structure, which leaves the listener hoping for slightly more depth in the thought and personalities of her characters. Ms. LaVoy helps to add gradations of personal qualities which Ms. McNeal often neglects. Hence the three stars for the story itself and the five stars given the performance.
Some listeners may find the characters somewhat stereotyped. But in Ms. McNeal's defense, this seems to be a matter of the depths to which she wished to mine her players' inner life. Also, all of her characters are treated to the same level of development, which does give the story an even literary treatment. In other words, there isn't a lack of development in only some of the characters, there seems to be an overall reliance by Ms. McNeal to have the reader fill in the undefined gaps on all of her characters, while mainly giving a surface development to them all. That said, you do actually get enough grit in the story to get to know the players and to care what happens to them.
If you are interested in a (non-intellectually-taxing,) solid story of a young girl's coming-of-age in unexpected circumstances, you will enjoy Doll-Baby overall, at about that four-star level.
Just don't expect to discover the next Great American Novel.
Well. If you love British History, especially the history which zeroes in on a particular family's life, then of course you will want to listen to "Black Diamonds."
This is a well researched and intriguing presentation of the history of the Fitzwilliam family and their relationship to the industry which supported them and the thousands of colliers who lived to mine their fortune of coal, or "black diamonds." That the mining of coal allowed a lopsided advantage of privileged wealth to the gentry while exacting a heavy toll (both physically and financially,) on the miners, is revealed in an interesting and engaging way by the author, Catherine Bailey.
By examining the rise and fall of the Fitzwillams, Ms. Bailey renders a good understanding of the economic relationship of English aristocracy and the people they employed while also fully coloring the manner in which industrial England transformed after the reformation of the ownership of the coal industry itself. Even with all the finely nuanced political and economic information which Ms. Bailey includes, it is never a dry read (or listen,) but a thoroughly gripping story of human trials, life and loves.
One last word. I need to throw some well-earned accolades toward the narrator, Gareth Armstrong. His performance, in which he easily switches from some very specific regional accents and back to his "neutral" narrative voice, is 100% on target. His abilities, (even when wrestling with the flattened vowels of an American voice,) are beyond expectation and render a full spectrum of character and depth to the book.
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