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Waterbury, VT, United States | Member Since 2015


  • A Dance to the Music of Time: Second Movement

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Anthony Powell
    • Narrated By Simon Vance

    Anthony Powell's universally acclaimed epic encompasses a four-volume panorama of twentieth-century London. Hailed by Time as "brilliant literary comedy as well as a brilliant sketch of the times," A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.

    Sandy says: "Simon Vance is a perfect reader for " A Dance...""
    "Even better read aloud"

    Anthony Powell captured my imagination circa 1966, not so long after I first read Tolkien.

    Nick Jenkins is the narrator, and his amused and amusing use of the language to describe people he meets - mostly with seriously memorable dialog - feeds back into his reflection and imaginings as he grows from childhood into old age. The chosen reader is simply excellent, and his literal "voice" truly adds remarkable value.

    If you already love A Dance to the Music of Time, I suspect you will share my joy at another "reading" by this talented production team.

    If you have not, get ready for history written one conversation at a time, with seriously realized characters who keep growing, changing, surprising and not surprising.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tristram Shandy

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Laurence Sterne
    • Narrated By Peter Barker

    The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a novel by Laurence Sterne considered one of the greatest comic novels in English. It was published in nine volumes, the first two appearing in 1759, and seven others following over the next 10 years. Laurence Sterne (1713 - 1768) was an Irish-born English novelist and an Anglican clergyman.

    Theodore says: "A classic and a hoot"
    "A classic and a hoot"

    The shaggy dog story may be a tale told aloud that never quite makes a point, or gets to a point. Like a verbal meme, you find yourself trying to re-tell the story, a bit like whistling a tune that lingers in your mind. If the story touches on married life and even approaches the bawdy, the prose and the humor are so innocent that even good-humored blue-noses have secretly enjoyed Sterne for literal centuries.

    If you read the ink and paper version - even if you never quite finished - you may find Peter Parker's reading opens whole new vistas. Besides accents and cadences, this book cries out for a slower, no-slimming approach. A bit like rolling an elegant coffee over your palate. The Librivox version is a joy, but Parker is a quiet but unanswerable argument for the thoughtful, professional reader.

    A gentle, laughing ramble through unlikely but kindly people, with philosophy as love of wit and wisdom and the ever-surprising.

    In an oddly post-modern opening, the dedication to the English prime minister (Pitt the elder, French and Indian war leader in American terms) is followed by an offer to sell the dedication for the second and following printings. Not the passionate and personal rejection of noble patronage, but writing and reading for joy, laughter and elegant stories.

    How about a chapter on "whiskers" as a word for "bawdy," or Uncle Toby whistling Liliabollero (there are recordings on the web, and whistling along is itself a hoot) discussed and characterized as formal rhetoric following Aristotle and Cicero?

    Whether you enjoy or ignore the Military History channel, Uncle Toby's model of the fortification outside Nemours (where the original Dartagnon won fame) partly frames the intricate technical terms of fortification (a boulevard originally meant a street built where a large, low earth-core wall once stood; Toby watched them being built around most serious cities in West Europe).

    The cash price may be cheaper than a credit.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The War That Came Early: West and East

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Harry Turtledove
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren

    In 1938, two men held history in their hands. One was Adolf Hitler. The other was British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, who, determined to avoid war at any cost, came to be known as "the great appeaser". But Harry Turtledove, the unrivaled master of alternate history, has launched a gripping saga that springboards from a different fateful act: What if Chamberlain had stood up to Hitler? How would the war have unfolded and changed our world?

    Theodore says: "Alternate history and elegant story-telling"
    "Alternate history and elegant story-telling"

    Even if you don't hear stem-winder lectures (sermons) so often nowadays about the Munich betrayal of Czechoslovakia ("peace in our time" was never quite the same, even as a prayer), there are abstract arguments - Britain had only just begun to build modern fighters, would the German army command have taken action to dump Hitler, was the German build-up itself ready to fight, etc.

    Harry Turtledove makes you forget whatever you thought you knew, including real WW II history, and his cast of seriously developed characters live a story where neither you nor they know how it will turn out, let alone details.

    His trademark effortless mastery of details runs from the motor, armor and weapons on a panzer Mark 1 or Mark 2, or the early anti-tank weapons (think a .50 calibre machine gun pretending to be a rifle; and here I found the LAAW and 3.5 inch rocket frustrating ;-) through Jewish life in Hitler's Germany. He invents Czech soldiers who fought hard in their own country, and escaped to fight in France - imagine "Good Soldier Schweik' with the same character but with his own country and fighting to keep it.

    I just finished the second volume, and will re-audit the first, because Turtledove's prose and imagination richly reward the second reading.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Taint in the Blood

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By S. M. Stirling
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Long ago, homo nocturnus ruled the Earth, able to manipulate the forces of nature at their most basic level. Before the dawn of recorded history they were overthrown, leaving behind them only legends---our legends of shapeshifters and blood-drinkers, of cruel gods and evil magicians, of ogres and goblins, succubi and incubi.

    John Vodonick Ph.D. says: "Aweful, just aweful."
    ""New Moon" and Buffy get real"

    For Stirling fans, his latest may be one of his greatest. If you liked the Draka or Clan MacKensie, I think his fully realized Shadowspawn (a genetic sub species that can do a scientific sort of magic, drink blood, shift shapes and perhaps live forever) society will ring your chimes.

    If you enjoy the love, romance and blood-drinking genre, Steve may put some depth and thought, as well as LOTS of very vivid prose, to the characters, how they grow as people, before during and after. The central couple slept together for six months, broke up, and now rediscover love amidst terror, horror and courage.

    Drinking blood feels like what wine can only try to be - imagine full scale telepathy as your demon lover makes love, knowing just what gives joy and what causes pain, and preys upon your final heart beat despair and personality dissolution.

    He also makes evil as real and nuanced as having a nice meal - and the choices that make us less bad and perhaps even good just as real, if a bit less scary.

    Having just finished reading and now auditing, I can say that the reader adds serious value, as Steve has been making "voices" come alive.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Karl Marlantes
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: A performance so poignant, we gave Bronson Pinchot (yes, Balki from Perfect Strangers) our inaugural Narrator of the Year award.... In the monsoon season of 1968-69 at a fire support base called Matterhorn, located in the remote mountains of Vietnam, a young and ambitious Marine lieutenant wants to command a company to further his civilian political ambitions. But two people stand in his way.

    Zachary says: "Matterhorn"
    "A Vietnam war novel for all of us"

    No matter if you "went there, did that," rode a draft exemption, or if it all happened before your parents were born.
    Karl Marlantes makes the characters live and breath.
    Almost impossibly for most of us who played but one role, he lets us "walk a mile" in the shoes of folks at platoon, company, battalion and regiment, especially when they'd execrate each other foully and at length. His helo pilot and grunt stories do justice to both, if that's possible.
    The landscape - mountains and mist and rain, leeches and tigers and jungle rot - is remarkably vivid. While the PAVN soldiers and even officers are only seen from outside, I think Bao Ninh ("Sorrow of War," maybe the best PAVN side novel of the war) would recognize and perhaps even nod at the word portraits.
    Do you remember cooking C rations over plastic explosive, or just cooking excrable powdered coffee in empty green cans?
    Did you ever lie in the dark with a flashlight to mark an L-Z - yes or no, marking a tiny landing zone with heat tabs inside helmets will resonate. And yes, kevlar coal scuttle folks, In The Old Days a steel pot was steel, so you could boil water in it.
    The race war within the Vietnam War is probably outside our imagination, here and now, and even a white liberal who joined SNCC when they still allowed whites may have trouble writing foxhole dialog in this area.
    Yeppers, there's a real fragging and a phoney one, but I think the handling and the plot will surprise you - they work as character and plot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Clockwork Orange

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Anthony Burgess
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A vicious 15-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic, a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. In Anthony Burgess' nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology.

    Steve says: "Great book, great narration, but not for everyone"
    "This audio book beats written and even the movie"

    No matter whether you've seen the Stanley Kubrick movie, or read the book - "Clockwork Orange" demands the spoken word, especially all the bits of British accents but also a made-up language and a very neat "voice" for "little Alex" (the Malcolm McDowell character in the iconic picture, bowler hat, eye makeup and stiletto).

    This audio book adds-back the last chapter, deleted from the US book and the film. Burgess explains his logic, while admitting the reasons why we may agree with the US editor (I agree with Burgess, myself, but then I'd been utterly unaware of the question).

    Burgess personally speaks an introduction, and at the end, reads aloud 3 critical chapters, adding surprising depth to the minor characters even as you can feel his identification with little Alex.
    There is substance here, though it works neatly just as "ultra-violence" with minimal human depth.

    With the added arc of character, and Burgess reading key bits of little Alex narrating, and even adding some of the capital-R Romantic classical music that's interwoven with ultra-violence in little Alex's soul, "voice" seems the best word for the way Burgess uses linguistic razzle-dazzle to get us all inside little Alex.
    A note on "ultra-violence," especially the graphic rapes clearly motivated more by violent hatred than anything like merely erotic desire. The plot and Alex's arc are about free will, good and evil, and may even work as an odd Christian apologetic. The violence is central and deeply thought-out, about as far from gratuitous exploitation as I can imagine.

    Still and all, the violence is horrible, terrible and even a bit nauseating - but then that's what makes "evil" a meaninful word, yes?

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Mary Mapes
    • Narrated By Mary Mapes

    It was a great story. A true story. The kind of story any news producer would love to report, nail down, and get on the air. And that's just what Mary Mapes and her producing and reporting team did in September 2004 when Dan Rather anchored their report on President George W. Bush's dereliction of his National Guard duty for CBS News.

    Theodore says: "Neither true nor dutiful"
    "Neither true nor dutiful"

    Mary Mapes seems to assume we all share her oddly elastic approach to truth.

    In case you never saw a typewriter, the output is visibly different from proportional typefaces in MicroSoft Word.

    Mapes pretends that even the CBS experts report that the Word document was an obvious forgery was no reason to doubt a partisan story.

    If she had not been coordinating the "story" with the Kerry campaign - as confirmed by their press spokesman - and if there was not a coordinated DNC TV ad, we might see an absence of actual malice (scienter), just grotesque bias run amok.

    In case you were wondering, President Bush had just over 2 years of points from active duty for training as a pilot - he could have honorably resigned from the Guard at any time. Al Gore was quite right in 2000 to reject this utterly groundless story.

    But then there came Mapes and Rather.

    25 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • American Soldier

    • ABRIDGED (6 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By General Tommy R. Franks, Malcolm McConnell
    • Narrated By General Tommy R. Franks

    The Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command from July 2000 through July 2003, General Tommy Franks made history leading American and Coalition forces to victory in Afghanistan and Iraq, the decisive battles that launched the war on terrorism.

    Theodore says: "More accurate, better written than Woodward"
    "More accurate, better written than Woodward"

    Tommy Franks reading his own words shows what "voice" means as an abstraction about a prose style.

    He makes the key players and events of the second Iraq war come alive - no matter what your position on the war, you will learn things and I suspect come to respect a man named Tommy Franks.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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