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alan

north wales, PA, United States | Member Since 2014

11
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 12 reviews
  • 21 ratings
  • 507 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2015
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  • The Free World

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By David Bezmozgis
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (65)

    Summer 1978. Brezhnev sits like a stone in the Kremlin, Israel and Egypt are inching towards peace, and in the bustling, polyglot streets of Rome, strange new creatures have appeared: Soviet Jews who have escaped to freedom through a crack in the Iron Curtain. Among the thousands who have landed in Italy to secure visas for new lives in the West are the members of the Krasnansky family - three generations of Russian Jews.

    Janet says: "Excellent Character study -don't expect a plot"
    "Insightfullness overcomes crude dialect narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The Free World again? Why?

    It hurts to join characters suffering through the immigration process, but worth it, once, for the insights into modern Soviet Jewish feelings and attitudes.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    This is a story about refugees in the modern world - not in danger, not wanting for food or shelter, but truly lost, and inventorying their values for direction as they try to find their place in the world, literally and metaphorically; here their refugee status a painful externalization of their inner lostness. The narrator counters the universalism of this quest, and the particulars of each character, by having each character speak in the same generic Jewish-Russian lilt, as though this were one long Jewish joke.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Free World and why?

    The old Communists, immensely sympathetic as they lose faith in a system they worshipped, realize they were dupes thinking themselves skeptics, and wonder how to can go on and be useful in this new world; and the young, trying to find their own place.


    Any additional comments?

    Bezmozgis is a fine portratist, depicting people in their contexts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Betrayers: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By David Bezmozgis
    • Narrated By Christopher Lane
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (15)

    These incandescent pages give us one fraught, momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the settlements in the West Bank, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior, and the besieged couple escapes to Yalta, the faded Crimean resort of Kotler's youth.

    alan says: "Jewish Kitsch"
    "Jewish Kitsch"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    my mother


    What was most disappointing about David Bezmozgis’s story?

    everyone is all strong and good, except for the bad guy


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the villain, constructing himself as a victim and turning everything to self-pity, even while he is having a stroke


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    it is short, despite the reader's glacial pace.


    Any additional comments?

    A short and shallow tale of god's justice delivered through Solomonic Israeli politicians, self-sacrificing sabras, resolute Israeli women, self-pitying traitors, etc. Hadassah chapters everywhere will love it, and Bezmozgis will dine out on this little book for years to come.
    Now, with this crowd-pleaser behind him, he can resume his insightful accounts of the heartbreaks of immigrant life, their dislocated perspectives on their new homes in the US or Canada, and the casual cruelties they endure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The First Bad Man: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Miranda July
    • Narrated By Miranda July
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (136)
    Performance
    (116)
    Story
    (116)

    Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people's babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women's self-defense nonprofit where she works. She believes they've been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.

    alan says: "The book we've been fighting for"
    "The book we've been fighting for"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does The First Bad Man rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Brilliant first novel. Are there really so few that stream the consciousness of lonely people?


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The First Bad Man?

    whatever moments inspired my meditations on impaired narrators and the readers' superior insight; on how lost souls are driven by biology, since they have no other compass; on how playing games opens one up, and then its not a game.
    And the crtical recognition that exactly what we do in bed, the specific acts, with others and with ourselves, emerge from and are continuations of who we are, our wishes, fears and fantasies, and so very important in understanding these things, every bit as important as our speech and our acts, and our non-sexual thoughts and dreams..


    Have you listened to any of Miranda July’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    yes, yes


    Any additional comments?

    This is, of course, a dirty book, a very dirty book. It could not be otherwise.
    Fortunately we are in the hands of a generous author, and all that dirt, and the hot sex, and the other kind, are all in the service of an honest and warm showing of life, and how it works out, rewarding some very satisfying consolations to those who open to it.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Peripheral

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By William Gibson
    • Narrated By Lorelei King
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (324)
    Performance
    (290)
    Story
    (292)

    Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran's benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC's elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there's a job he's supposed to do - a job Flynne didn't know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her.

    Jeremy says: "Excellent Book!"
    "The Master Lives On"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Peripheral to be better than the print version?

    I haven't a clue


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    Makes its technology seem inevitable.
    One of the few coherent time-travel stories.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dune: House Atreides: House Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (744)
    Performance
    (520)
    Story
    (523)

    Capturing all the complexity and grand themes of the original, this prequel to the Dune series weaves a new tapestry of betrayal, passion, and destiny into a saga that expands the tale written by Frank Herbert more than 30 years ago.

    Robert says: "Maybe better than original Audible production."
    "Zombie Dune for Dummies - Slow, Plodding, Lifeless"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Dune: House Atreides: House Trilogy, Book 1 better?

    Frank Herbert. Here in Brian's travesty, everything subtle and hinted-at in his father's work is laid out exaggerated, told and retold at great length. Better to rehear the original works any number of times, or anything written by anybody else who is trying to be original.


    What was most disappointing about Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson ’s story?

    Its clumsiness, The material is intrinsically interesting - life on Ix, internal organizationof the Bene Gesseret, Emperor vs Landesraat/CHOAM/SpaceGuild, etc. Someone else should try their hand at this material. I gave myself the gift of giving up after a few hours, infinitely tedious.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Scott Brick?

    yes


    What character would you cut from Dune: House Atreides: House Trilogy, Book 1?

    Brian Herbert


    Any additional comments?

    More is not more. Let the dead bury the dead. To quote a great line from Dune: "If you love me, kill me".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Decoded: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Mai Jia, Olivia Milburn (translator), Christopher Payne (translator)
    • Narrated By Ryan Gesell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (13)
    Story
    (12)

    In his gripping debut novel, Mai Jia reveals the mysterious world of Unit 701, a top-secret Chinese intelligence agency whose sole purpose is counterespionage and code breaking. Rong Jinzhen, an autistic math genius with a past shrouded in myth, is forced to abandon his academic pursuits when he is recruited into Unit 701. As China's greatest cryptographer, Rong discovers that the mastermind behind the maddeningly difficult Purple Code is his former teacher and best friend, who is now working for China's enemy - but this is only the first of many betrayals.

    alan says: "racist and offensive narration"
    "racist and offensive narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    End the book 60% of the way through. I wish I did.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    The biographical first third of the book is an enjoyable multigenerational family story. The second third narrows down to our protagonist, bringing him up to his present crisis. The last third is interminable repeated lamentations; they don't seem to progress. It's not often I abandon a book after reading 80%, but this time I had suffered enough, and decided to spare myself further pain.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Recites English in a childish sing-song mockery of Chinese-American diction. As the action flags, the narrator increasingly ends every sentence with an exclamation point, expressing ceaseless, infantile, patronising wide-eyed wonder in a futile effort to keep the listener awake and keep the story alive.


    Any additional comments?

    its the job of the editor to squelch narrators who go over the top

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By John Scalzi
    • Narrated By Wil Wheaton
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6767)
    Performance
    (6297)
    Story
    (6298)

    Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the facts that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces; (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations; and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

    Paige says: "Not his Wheal-house"
    "Clunker plot full of holes, puerile wit"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    If you like frat-boy humor, this book is for you.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Redshirts?

    "I bought you that drink, so now I own you"


    Any additional comments?

    Time travel into the past always generates an incoherent and impossible story, and this is no exception. The flat characters and sophomoric humor makes this especially insufferable. Someone should tell Wil Wheaton to not recite the redundant "... he said" 's in the text.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Quicksilver: Book One of The Baroque Cycle

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neal Stephenson
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble, Kevin Pariseau, Neal Stephenson
    Overall
    (1862)
    Performance
    (1107)
    Story
    (1135)

    In which Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and courageous Puritan, pursues knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe -- in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

    David says: "Be aware of what you're getting into"
    "Brilliant rich historical (science?) fiction"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to Quicksilver the most enjoyable?

    A very generous helping of period details, this book makes sense of the Pilgrims, the crypto-Catholics, the origins of British science in the Royal Society, Newton, Leibnitz, the fourteenth Louis, Oliver Cromwell, John Churchill, Hanging Judge Jeffries; the London Black Death of 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Quicksilver?

    The explosive extraction of phosphorous by the unbearably foul distillation of vast quantities of urine; the production of wooten steel; how an Irishman with a stick kills an armored nobleman as though he were an insect; the encampment of the Turks at the Battle of Vienna, with Jan Sobieski;


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I often cheered


    Any additional comments?

    This is the first volume (of 8? 11?) of The Baroque Cycle, the best thing ever written by Neal Stephenson, who is a wonderful author. This is a slow start for the Cycle; if you're not sure if you want to read the whole cycle, start instead with Book 2 (Odalisque) or Book 3, volumes that provide more early action.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Michael Pollan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (840)
    Performance
    (746)
    Story
    (745)

    In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements - fire, water, air, and earth - to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world....

    Michael says: "Very enjoyable listen!"
    "Too full of himself"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Edit out the howlingly ignorant prononouncements from anthrolopology and quotes-from-the-classics


    What was most disappointing about Michael Pollan’s story?

    Too much fluff obscures his tales of adventures among the foodies.
    His observations on how we eat are interesting the first time around, but can not withstand his hectoring repetitions


    Any additional comments?

    audio is the wrong format - this should be skimmed page by page, not audited from start to finish

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Isles: A History

    • ABRIDGED (9 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Norman Davies
    • Narrated By Andrew Sachs
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (17)

    Here is the best-selling and controversial history of the British Isles, including Ireland, from the author of Europe: A History. Emphasizing long-standing European connections and positing a possible break-up of the United Kingdom, this agenda-setting work is destined to become a classic.

    David says: "Good if you know what you're getting"
    "Self-satisfied jingoist history"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What was most disappointing about Norman Davies’s story?

    Davies has done brilliant work in the past, and relishes in debunking complacent opinion. Here, instead, he has written a history for BBC TV. Britain emerges Great, triumphant, only improved by its travails. All the imperial losses - US independence, the millions dead in the partition of India, Soros (alternately "an American" and then "a Hungarian") breaking the Bank of England) are attributed to individuals' errors, none of these catastrophes sprung from social forces, economics, the national arrogance, etc.
    Half the book is the standard monarchical history of who begat and supplanted whom, alternating England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland to show their equivalence, but there is no sense of why and next to nothing in the way of geographical, geological, economic explanation of developments, nor any other explaining. The royal ties to Europe are cited repeatedly, with little mention of European machinations in Britain beyond the invasion attempts.
    Speaking for the new British everyman, now worldly enough to enjoy Indian food, European beaches, and the Irish, Davies even brings Princess Di onstage, to warn the royals that their high-handedness will not be tolerated, in the name of the people.


    What about Andrew Sachs’s performance did you like?

    foreign words pronounced without ironic pause


    Any additional comments?

    Read Davies' wonderful history of Europe, instead

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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