Swain has the credentials to know what he's talking about here. These are recordings of a series of lectures at a writers conference, I presume. They suffer from age a bit, the fact that he seems to refer to slides we the listener can't see, and rather than discussing general concepts, sometimes forces definitions that don't always work. Nevertheless, he does know what he's talking about and will no doubt job your memory as a writer to strengthen your characters, tighten the action, and revise ruthlessly.
If you're looking for support of your view on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is not the book to find it. Rather it is a compelling listen from a dedicated Marine who begins his career with idealistic patriotism, and sees it morphed into a love of his comrades. You'll witness the journey from gung-ho officer candidate to combat leader to sober veteran. I finished this book with a greater appreciation for the dedication and sacrifice we ask of our military men and women, not only in terms of the risk to their lives, but the cost to them after their part in the wars are over. This book toned my political rhetoric down a few notches and it just might yours.
I was intrigued by this title because I hoped that by listening I might begin to understand what would motivate someone to strap on a web of explosives, walk into a crowed restaurant, and press the button. That seems to be the basic question the main character, Dr. Jaafari, pursues, and hence the driving force of the novel. The author does a great job balancing the emotional torture inside Dr. Jaafari with the action of finding the truth. By the end, though, I'm not sure I've arrived at a place that's real or just where the author wanted to leave me. Worth the listen to make up your own mind.
I've never read or listened to any of Janet's books, and this was nonetheless a great listen. She weaves her own reflections with those of her agent (I think) and her daughter, who manages her website, to discuss not only writing, but publishing, and issues around both. She includes samples of her writing to illustrate what she's talking about. So while I'm sure the Janet fans enjoyed this, any aspiring writer will too. ...And if you like this, you'll love Stephen King's book, On Writing, too.
The appeal of reading a diary is discovering something juicy or interesting. This diary has neither, because everything interesting seems to happen in the background. The Nazi's take over, but it hardly affects the narrator. He forges relationships that seem to go nowhere. I kept waiting for something significant to happen (you would think with a title like Berlin Diaries something would), but alas, nothing much did. Michael York does a superb job but ultimately this was disappointing.
This dramatized version was very well done and captured both the epic sweep and memorable personalities of the characters in this classic story.
No doubt DeMille fans will disagree, but I thought that the central character/narrator's tone, which jumps out at you from the first paragraph, was too smug. Since the real action of the novel doesn't really get going until the seventh or eighth chapter (when the mysterious airliner lands), I found the humor wore thin and the attitude became more of an annoyance than an asset. Still, now that I'm this far I may stick with it to see what happens...
Ann is either loved or reviled, but only because her arrows hit the mark with more fun and force than any other commentator today. Godless raises the stakes to a new level. If you love her other books, Godless won't disappoint-- you'll laugh as you learn. If you hate her, especially without ever reading one of her books, you might just want to try this one out, to cut through all the shouting about Ann and listen to her thoughts. As hilarious as she can be, in the end its not her humor that sells, its the intellect behind her arguments. By themselves, the ending chapters on evolution are worth the listen.
In a way I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I tend to prefer linear plots-- first A happens, then B, and so on, until Z follows logically at the end. This novel doesn't follow that plan. It's more of a mosaic-- smaller stories, generally following the timeline of the British Anzio campaign in WWII, splashed on the canvas in such a way that up close you don't see exactly how they relate to each other. But by the end, you come away with a deeper sense of what it must have been like for the men at war.
I loved the rhythm of this book; the narrator was fantastic and perhaps it's a cliche, but there truly was a lyrical quality to the text. It just sounds wonderful, and the power of the spoken word is what kept me engaged when the logical side of the brain was looking for pegs to hang the stories on (it's not that there's not plenty of plot and action, it's just that the novel is not structured in that A thru Z fashion).
I enjoyed this book so much I want to buy the hardcover version to see what that lyrical prose actually looks like in print!
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