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Darwin8u

Mesa, AZ, United States
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  • Confessions of a Crap Artist

  • By: Philip K. Dick
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 42

Jack Isidore doesn’t see the world like most people. According to his brother-in-law, Charley, he’s a crap artist, obsessed with his own bizarre theories and ideas, which he fanatically records in his many notebooks. He is so grossly unequipped for real life that his sister and brother-in-law feel compelled to rescue him from it. But while Fay and Charley Hume put on a happy face for the world, they prove to be just as sealed off from reality, in thrall to obsessions that are slightly more acceptable than Jack’s but a great deal uglier.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Captivating from the first sentence onward

  • By Gary on 02-26-13

The moods of the mass can't be fathomed...

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

"Science in baffled by the unreason of the hoi polloi. The moods of the mass can't be fathomed, that's a fact."
- Philip K. Dick, Confessions of a Crap Artist

Jack Isadore is a bit a lune. He believes in crack-pot theories about the end of the world, has funky obscessions and ticks. He's a couple nuts short of being a fruit cake. Eventually, he ends up living with his rich sister and her husband. With them, Jack discovers he isn't the only crazy one. It seems most people, even those who seem to have "everything" and fit into our reality better, are only a couple inches away from the void.

I went into this book blind. I've read a bunch of other Philip K. Dick novels, but never realized THIS is his only [one of his few]* non-scifi novel[s]. It shares more with Raymond Carver and Jonathan Franzen than it does with Vernor Vinge and Kurt Vonnegut. I liked it, but it was a bit tedious in parts. Dick's ability to capture characters is on point in this book. All the major characters are amazing, especially Jack's sister Fayy Hume and her husband Charley. Wow. I didn't like them, but after finishing this book I felt like I was RELATED to them.

  • Up in the Air

  • By: Walter Kirn
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 53
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 55

Ryan Bingham's job as a Career Transition Counselor - he fires people - has kept him airborne for years. Although he has come to despise his line of work, he has come to love the culture of what he calls "Airworld" - finding contentment within pressurized cabins, anonymous hotel rooms, and a wardrobe of wrinkle-free slacks.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Not the movie

  • By Tania on 06-17-10

Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

I liked it a lot. It is hard because I kept wanting to compare it to DeLillo's best. It isn't DeLillo's best, but it isn't embarassed by the comparisson to good DeLillo. In someways it reminds me of 2001's answer to Americana (travel, corporate America, the West, relationships, etc). I'm fascinated with Kirn and this won't be the last of this review. However, it is late. I'm flying tomorrow (Ironically) and only half my flight will give me miles.

  • David Copperfield [Audible]

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Richard Armitage
  • Length: 36 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,883
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,762
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,746

Between his work on the 2014 Audible Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, and his performance of Classic Love Poems, narrator Richard Armitage ( The Hobbit, Hannibal) has quickly become a listener favorite. Now, in this defining performance of Charles Dickens' classic David Copperfield, Armitage lends his unique voice and interpretation, truly inhabiting each character and bringing real energy to the life of one of Dickens' most famous characters.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A PERFECT narration of an English classic!

  • By Wayne on 09-03-17

Procrastination is the thief of time...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

“I know enough of the world now to have almost lost the capacity of being much surprised by anything”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

'David Copperfield' contains more saints per capita than any beatified book by Butler. Dickens is amazing in his ability to be both grand and personal. David Copperfield is sprawling, with dozens of threads that weave around David Copperfield's youth and adulthood. IT is amazing not only how he can transform a character through time, but also show that our perceptions of those same characters are drawn often from imperfect information and overly simple assumptions. Yes, there are parts of 'David Copperfield' that float between the melodramatic and the grotesque, but one doesn't read Dickens for the unmoving, normal or embellished. There are a handful of novels that I would consider to be the literary equivalent of scripture: 'Les Miserables', 'the Idiot', 'Anna Karenina', and for sure 'David Copperfield'.

There are several moments in 'David Copperfield' when, as a reader, you recognize you will never be half the writer Dickens was (on deadline). He might just be second to Shakespeare in my book, or at least be among a small cadre of writers that belong on the silver pedestal below the Bard.

This isn't as technically perfect as 'Great Expectations', but it is top tier Dickens for sure. A massive novel that floats with the weight of a beach read half its size. If you are going to read a Dickens, this might not be your first stop, but it shouldn't be far from your second.

  • The Nutmeg of Consolation

  • Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 14
  • By: Patrick O'Brian
  • Narrated by: Patrick Tull
  • Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 827
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 598
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 590

When last seen, Jack and Stephen had been shipwrecked on a desert island in the glittering South China Sea. The Nutmeg of Consolation opens as the castaways fashion a makeshift vessel from the wreckage, only to have it destroyed in a fiery attack by Malay pirates. Only the wondrous ingenuity of Stephen, along with the unexpected appearance of one of Jack's oldest allies, leads them to escape, and to dubious safety in a penal colony at New South Wales.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Nutmeg

  • By Jean on 09-28-11

I read novels with the utmost pertinacity.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

“I read novels with the utmost pertinacity. I look upon them - I look upon good novels - as a very valuable part of literature, conveying more exact and finely-distinguished knowledge of the human heart and mind than almost any other, with greater breadth and depth and fewer constraints.”
― Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation

For action, this book is a bit light. There is a bit of fighting when the crew of the shipwrecked HMS Diane are trying to building a schooner. Tobacco and alcohol might soon run out and the ship is nearing St. Famine's day (not marked by a famine of food, but smokes and booze). Things might get rough. After losing a few members heading off an attack of some local pirates, they eventually chase down a French ship. I won't give those details away. However, after that, the book ends up in Australia (New South Wales) where Dr. Maturin contemplates happiness, money, family and addition. He also confronts the harsh conditions in New South Wales, where everything has been degraded by the penal colony economy.

It might have been a 3-star (the first?) book, if not for the beautiful musings of Stephen throughout. I really do love these novels.

  • Murder on the Orient Express

  • A Hercule Poirot Mystery
  • By: Agatha Christie
  • Narrated by: Dan Stevens
  • Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,067
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7,475
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,452

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • My first Christie

  • By Michael Andrew Kinkead on 08-06-17

The impossible cannot have happened.

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

"The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”
― Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

I wanted to read this because the movie* was coming out and I had never read the book and didn't want this classic to be defined in my brain by the movie. It was OK. I had to keep telling myself that some of the conventions and tropes she used, she probably INVENTED, so there is that. I also enjoyed how she subverted the whole form of the locked-room mystery form. She blew it to hell (about as much as I can say without giving the ending away to whoever on this planet doesn't know how it ends). But the prose was mediocre and the characters floated between bland/conventional and cut-outs. Again, it wasn't bad, just not a genre I spend a lot of time with. If I'm reading detective novels, it is a different type entirely.

* The movie was also good without being exceptional.

  • Tobacco Road

  • By: Erskine Caldwell
  • Narrated by: John MacDonald
  • Length: 5 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 61
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 36

Set during the Depression in the depleted farmlands surrounding Augusta, Georgia, Tobacco Road was first published in 1932. It is the story of the Lesters, a family of white sharecroppers so destitute that most of their creditors have given up on them. Debased by poverty to an elemental state of ignorance and selfishness, the Lesters are preoccupied by their hunger, sexual longings, and fear that they will one day descend to a lower rung on the social ladder than the black families who live near them.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • The Depression is Depressing

  • By William M Storm on 10-14-12

Preachers has got to preach against something.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

“He sometimes said it was partly his own fault, but he believed steadfastly that his position had been brought about by other people.”
― Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road

Sometimes, when I'm unable to understand Georgia's ability to support and defend Judge Roy Moore, it helps to read a little bit of Erskine Caldwell. 'Tobacco Road' reminds me a bit of Hemingway, a bit of Twain, and a bit of Steinbeck. It is both a social justice novel and a darkly comic novel that paints the ugly corners of human poverty and depravity. The Lesters are a family of white sharecropers that are basically rotting into the earth. Social and economic norms and even the family are lost. Religion is abused. Even new cars are abused and quickly swallowed by the Earth. The land is fallow, burned, and everything is going to Hell.

It is a good thing the novel was so short, because it was painful to read.

  • True Grit

  • By: Charles Portis
  • Narrated by: Donna Tartt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,466
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,458
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,458

Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • So worth it!

  • By Tommygaus on 12-29-10

Nothing I like to do pays well.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

This book's deadpan prose is a song that will not leave my head. Some of the sharpest and funniest lines ever written in the English language are nestled like vipers in the pages of this book. There were times when I hadn't quite recovered from one page and was kicked, bit and beguiled by the next. I often consider the honorific of 'unappreciated' to be a little bit of a stock exaggeration, but even if this book would sell a million copies tomorrow, I'd still consider it an unappreciated masterpiece of American fiction.

  • The Long Lavender Look

  • A Travis McGee Novel, Book 12
  • By: John D. MacDonald
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 221
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 194

A lovely young girl steps in front of Travis McGee's headlights. McGee misses the girl but lands in 10 feet of swamp water. As he's limping along the deserted road, someone in an old truck takes a few shots at him. And, when he goes to the local sheriff to complain, the intrepid Travis McGee finds himself arrested and charged with murder. And he can't help but ask himself, "is this what they call southern hospitality?"

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A swampy problem for McGee

  • By John Powell III on 06-09-13

And it gets cold in there.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

"The delusion of total freedom of will is the worst cage of all. And it gets cold in there."
- John D. MacDonald, The Long Lavender Look

description

It is always nice to return to a solid McGee novel. None are Shakespeare and the worst are like bad James Bond novels, but when MacDonald is on his game, he writes great narrative with interesting sidebars on economics, relationships, and people. This is the 12th of his Travis McGee novels and probably the 16th McGee I've read (I've got about 5 left). I've also read other MacDonald novels that I've liked about equally well. I return to them because they are fast, entertaining, and don't require much. They are desert.

This one centers on a small Florida town with a complicated Sheriff, several sub-optimal deputies, and many many troubled ladies. Probably, the least welcome part of this book is MacDonald's exposition on hookers. It is a bit too cyncial, even for John D. MacDonald fans.

  • American Lion

  • Andrew Jackson in the White House
  • By: Jon Meacham
  • Narrated by: Richard McGonagle
  • Length: 17 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 747
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 578
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 569

Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Unlikable Old Hickory

  • By John M on 01-05-09

When the time for action has come, stop thinking.

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

"Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality"
- Jon Meacham, American Lion

A solid history of a complicated man. One of the more influential Presidents, Jackson can and should be both praised and condemned. In many ways, he epitomized our young nation. Problematic, in the extreme, in regards to Native Americans and slaves, energetic, complicated, narcissistic, driven, and not to be trifled with. Jackson is often revered by Presidents who want to appear both populist and strong. Jackson, however, is no Trump. With obvious blind spots (Slavery and Natives) he typically acted according to an inner guide. He felt our nation needed a stronger executive to protect the people from the tyranny of bureaucracy and moneyed interests. He was brutal to anyone who stood in his way.

Meacham doesn't shy away from Jackson's failings, but also spends a bit too much time (in my opinion) in dealing with Jackson's family. After reading a bunch of Caro, I was afraid I would be severely disappointed with Meacham (like I was with the most recent Walter Isaacson book, Leonardo da Vinci). It was, however, better than I expected.

  • The Man with the Golden Gun

  • James Bond, Book 13
  • By: Ian Fleming
  • Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
  • Length: 4 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 112
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

If you try to assassinate your boss - even though brainwashed at the time - you must pay the price. To redeem himself James Bond is sent to kill one of the most lethal hit men in the world … Paco "Pistols" Scaramanga. In the sultry heat of Jamaica, 007 infiltrates his target's criminal cooperative - only to find that Scaramanga's bullets are laced with snake venom. When the end comes, every shot will count.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good combination of book and narrator

  • By Calliope on 12-27-14

Not only secret but secure

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-21-18

"The past could be forgiven, but not forgotten – except with the passage of time."
- Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun

I can't really call this an unfinished novel. It was finished, just not by Ian Fleming. He wrote the first draft and died. So, this obviously is the last James Bond novel. I'm not enough of a Ian Fleming fan to recognize how/where/if the lack of Ian Fleming made a huge difference to the drafting. I think the end of the novel, with Jones refusing certain honors, may not have found their way into the final novel if Ian Fleming were in control through the whole process. It seemed too final, too sentimental.

This novel returns Bond to active duty after losing his memory in the last novel. It also sends Bond back to Jamaica. It was good Bond, just not great bond. Seemed like a comfortable Ian Fleming wrting from a confident spot. The shootout was a bit of a disappointment, but Scaramanga’s last few moments were spectacular.