First published in 1979, The White Album records indelibly the upheavals and aftermaths of the 1960s. Examining key events, figures, and trends of the era - including Charles Manson, the Black Panthers, and the shopping mall - through the lens of her own spiritual confusion, Joan Didion helped to define mass culture as we now understand it. Written with a commanding sureness of tone and linguistic precision, The White Album is a central example of American reportage and a classic of American autobiography.
Joan Didion is without a doubt an exceptional writer, especially when she adopts the voice of a reporter describing people, places and events. I loved her book " The Year of magical thinking" I bought this book to travel back in time with her to the 1970s in California, a time I also lived through. Her comments on the women's movement were elitist and disdainful. She sounded depressed and intellectually tortured, incapable of empathy. There's an arrogance in her detached assessment of other human beings, especially other women, which is almost laughable. Other chapters on the perennial water crisis in California and the freeway system were boring, but maybe because the topics seem dated. The writing was superb. The narrator was perfect. Saw a new documentary about Joan Didion a couple of weeks ago, also excellent.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Going against the conventional wisdom reinforced by the medical establishment and Big Pharma that more screening is the best preventative medicine, Dr. Gilbert Welch builds a compelling counterargument that what we need are fewer, not more, diagnoses. Documenting the excesses of American medical practice that labels far too many of us as sick, Welch examines the social, ethical, and economic ramifications of a health-care system that unnecessarily diagnoses and treats patients.
Great information to have as a consumer of health care, but repetitious. Plodding delivery. This would have made an interesting long form article but not here enough for a book.
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met - a man who lounges in boxer shorts, who loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972". His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide.
This is a great example of why authors should think long and hard before they narrate their own books. Few have the skill to do so. This narration emphasized the weak points of the writing and overwhelmed the good. The only word I can think of to describe the prose is "florid"...why use one metaphor when five in row might be better? (Because it makes you sound like the winner of the bad poetry/prose contest) Often the descriptions are hilariously overwrought. "The procession passed like a snake's lingerie". What? Still, there's a great story here, interesting characters, and thought provoking insights. It is truly unfortunate these are buried neck deep in downright annoying voices. All of the characters sound like they are coming out of the mouth of a middle school actress overplaying every line, trying to reach the back of the theatre. The mother's voice is a cross between the Wicked Witch and one of the Kardashian sisters. Priestdaddy's voice belongs in Wayne's World, a lunatic stoner. That guy is saying Mass? The main character's tone is so relentlessly snarky--insufferable,sneering adolescent--that you can't stand the girl. When the narrator occasionally dialed down her "performance" and spoke in a believable, authentic way, it was a beautiful calm in the middle of a storm of bad acting. This was a challenging book to narrate. The author wasn't up to the task and did her own writing a great disservice.
16 of 19 people found this review helpful
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders, or does she intervene?
The characters are so cliched they are
laughable. The noble nurse, the evil white supremacist whose children play with a piñata of an African American lunching victim. No subtly, realism, or honest character development in this book. The often overly dramatic narration didn't help. I rarely fail to finish a book, but I gave up on this silly thing. I won't go near this author again. There are so many great authors out there who don't 'phone it in".
In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened.
An interesting story, well written, nicely paced, fascinating and poignant in the end. The author should have hired a professional narrator instead of reading the book himself. His narration is precise but monotone, low energy-as if he is bored and has been assigned to read aloud by a teacher. It does a great disservice to the story to have it read in such a sleepy, lackluster manner.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive - and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plainold "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
The first five chapters of this book bored me to death, and I only kept listening because of the great reviews the book has received. The author described every technical aspect of the protagonist's initial situation at a mind numbing level of detail. I kept thinking "who cares??!!" But once more characters were introduced, the story really picked up and I found it interesting and suspenseful. The main character' s jokes even got funnier. The final chapters were spellbinding.
From the Sunday Times top ten bestselling author of The Psychopath Test, a captivating and brilliant exploration of one of our world's most underappreciated forces: shame. 'It's about the terror, isn't it?' 'The terror of what?' I said. 'The terror of being found out.' For the past three years, Jon Ronson has travelled the world meeting recipients of high-profile public shamings. The shamed are people like us - people who, say, made a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work.
Should be read by anyone working with or regularly using social media, and people who feel compelled to share their judgements of the behavior of others.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Back in the run-and-gun days of the mid-'90s, when Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an anticrime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a 10-year-old boy while stopping an angel-dusted berserker in the street. Branded as a cowboy by his higher-ups, for the next 18 years Billy endured one dead-end posting after another.
It doesn't get any better than this book. Richard Price is a masterful writer. I listened to this book almost nonstop and was sorry when it ended. Great character development, challenging and fascinating plot--very few writers in any genre achieve this level of literary excellence. And if there is an Oscar for book narration, this narrator deserves one. Every character was perfectly voiced. This is one of the few male narrators who does justice to women's voices--so many do a high pitched silly voice or make all the women sound like "sexy baby" Marilyn Monroe imitations. This narrator got the female voices and every other character exactly right, adding to the wonderful writing instead of distracting from it. Can't recommend this book more highly.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Dee Brown's eloquent, meticulously documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the 19th century uses council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions. Brown allows great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated.
What did you like best about Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee? What did you like least?
I first read this book many years ago and it made a profound impression. I wasn't ignorant of Native American history--I grew up on several reservations where my father taught school and have a deep respect for the culture of the Hopi and the Navajo and the Apache and the Papago -- tribes I was familiar with as a child. But it was a still a revelation to hear this history from their perspective. The violence of the subjugation of The People is stunning to hear in a narrative like this. That said, I found listening to this book frustrating. I don't think the structure and flow of the book is up to the subject matter. It often felt like a list of atrocities, with the characters very hard to follow, instead of a story which draws you into the humanity and complexity of the cultures it is portraying. I kept thinking about the "Empire of the Summer Moon". Much better book in my opinion, although perhaps they fulfill different purposes.
Would you recommend Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee to your friends? Why or why not?
Yes, but with a caveat that it is hard going.
Did Grover Gardner do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?
No--that is the central problem of the book. You don't get to know or understand individuals.
Did Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspire you to do anything?
Read "Empire of the Summer moon" again and look for other titles on similar subjects.
Any additional comments?
This is a classic that belongs in any library about Native American issues, but I don't think it lends itself to the audio format well and I didn't find the narrator any help in that regard.