Featuring original music by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon! It's 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
The Mars Room is a tale of hopelessness and despair. It is said that Kushner researched the California women's prison system for years while writing this novel, and her efforts are evident in the grim details of this tale of despair. The story provides a look into the lives of those who start out at a disadvantage from birth. It is a story about bad choices, about not having the mental capacity to avoid bad choices, and, ultimately, the result of bad choices. The Mars Room is well written and narrated by the author herself, and Kushner's style and voice is perfect for our doomed female stripper/prisoner/protagonist. Overall 3.98 stars
At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them.
White Teeth has been rerecorded and re-released, and the results are fantastic. Zadie Smith combines humor and dysfunction and family drama into narrative that spans decades, and the end result is impressive. White Teeth made the PBS top 100 books list, and this novel made it for a reason. For lovers of contemporary lit fic, White Teeth hits all the marks. There are numerous narrators of this audio version, similar to a full cast, and while I usually prefer a single narrator, it works in this case, mostly because all the narrators are really good. For the nitpickers, there a couple sections near the beginning of the book with editorial/technical errors, though very minor ones and small price to pay for this audiobook. Zadie's newly released version of White Teeth is a winner in my eyes.
4.68 of 5 stars.
You are a failed novelist about to turn 50. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: Your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes - it would be too awkward - and you can't say no - it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. Question: How do you arrange to skip town? Answer: You accept them all.
Less is an average audiobook in my opinion. I've read and/or listened to quite a few Pulitzer winners, and Less comes in low on the list. Andrew Sean Greer's meandering protagonist is a gay, middle-aged white male dreading the day he turns 50. This is no spoiler, as all of this is revealed in the beginning. Less is far from a page turner and a bit tedious at times. It's not a bad novel at all, though I expected more from a Pulitzer Prize winner. Petkoff does a nice job with the narration. If you find my review dull, then it's a perfect fit for this audiobook. 3.1 stars.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
Red Clocks is a middle of the road audiobook. It's not great, and it's not bad. The narrators do a good job, and they sound so much alike that I couldn't tell the difference between them. The book kept my attention. The story was decent. It seemed kind of like a YA novel. I don't go into plot details when I review audiobooks and try to keep my reviews short. I don't think anyone needs a summary of the narrative. Red Clocks reminds me of some Margaret Atwood novels, mainly The Handmaid's Tale and The Heart Goes Last. I think fans of novels such as these will like Red Clocks. Overall, this audiobook receives 3.75 stars from this listener.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A blistering dark comedy, The Comedown is a romp across America, from the Kent State shootings, to protest marches in Chicago, to the Florida Everglades, that explores delineating lines of race, class, religion, and time. Scrappy, street smart drug dealer Reggie has never liked the simpering addict Leland, which doesn’t stop Leland from looking up to Reggie with puppy-esque devotion. But when a drug deal goes dramatically, tragically wrong and a suitcase (which may or may not contain a quarter of a million dollars) disappears, the two men and their families become hopelessly entangled.
I have the feeling that many people will give up on The Comedown too early. At first, it didn't grab my attention. There are many characters (some with the same name) and many plots and subplots, and the story jumps back and forth in time, so it can be a little confusing. However, after the first hour or so, I became invested and started to like it a lot more. I gave up on trying to keep track of years and dates and even some of the people. In the end, this was a good idea. I just listened to the story, and it was a good one. The Comedown is a bit complicated and takes time to unfold, and it seems like it could keep unfolding........Sequel? ......Prequel? I would buy it.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Illinois, appear ordinary enough to newly arrived trainee David Foster Wallace. But as he immerses himself in a routine so tedious and repetitive that new employees receive boredom-survival training, he learns of the extraordinary variety of personalities drawn to this strange calling. And he has arrived at a moment when forces within the IRS are plotting to eliminate even what little humanity and dignity the work still has. The Pale King remained unfinished at the time of David Foster Wallace's death....
Is there anything you would change about this book?
Yes, in a perfect world I would change it from an incomplete work to a novel finished by DFW.
Would you recommend The Pale King to your friends? Why or why not?
I would only recommend it to die-hard DFW fans.
Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I have listened to a number of Petkoff's performances. He is a good narrator, and does a professional job with the Pale King.
Did The Pale King inspire you to do anything?
No, it only inspired me to go back and read Infinite Jest again.
Any additional comments?
David Foster Wallace was a brilliant author, and Infinite Jest is my favorite audiobook. While The Pale King features a few sections of DFW's brilliance, it is unfinished and would have looked extremely different had he lived to finish it. The Pale King is novel for those who are already familiar with DFW and want to see what he was working on at the end. It is not a place to start with DFW. I've heard some refer to this novel as a Tour De Force. I can guarantee that it is not. If you want DFW at his best, a true Tour De Force, invest the time in Infinite Jest.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing.
If you are thinking about listening to this title, do it. The Animators is original and extremely good. The narration is flawless. Kayla Rae Whitaker and Alex McKenna make the perfect combination. There's plenty going on in this novel, no matter which genre you normally prefer. This is not only one of my favorites of 2018 but one of my all-time favorites. I can't say enough good things about this production. Top Notch.....5 Stars....
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
It is 1988. On a dead-end street in a run-down suburb there is a music shop that stands small and brightly lit, jam-packed with records of every kind. Like a beacon, the shop attracts the lonely, the sleepless, and the adrift; Frank, the shop's owner, has a way of connecting his customers with just the piece of music they need. Then, one day, into his shop comes a beautiful young woman, Ilse Brauchmann, who asks Frank to teach her about music.
The Music shop is an easy and enjoyable read/listen. It is a story of love and loss. It is also a story of resilience. Dreams are discovered and realized and snatched away. While there are numerous moments of sadness throughout the novel, the overall tone is light. The cast of characters keeps it interesting, and there is a hint of mystery to the novel. I wouldn't classify The Music Shop as a "page-turner," but it did hold my interest. The narrator was really good, except for the sections when he was required to sing.
I considered 4 stars, but The Music Shop doesn't quite make it there. Overall rating: 3.75 stars.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Best-selling author Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for this poignant and poetic novel. Unfolding over 12 days, the story follows a poor family living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on them, the Batistes struggle to maintain their community and familial bonds amid the storm and the stark poverty surrounding them.
I went between 4 and 5 stars on this novel. Salvage the Bones is really good. I enjoyed it a little more than Sing, Unburied, Sing, also by Ward. I think anyone who enjoyed Sing will enjoy Salvage the Bones and vise versa. Ward's writing is lyrical at times, and she uses a lot similes and metaphors. She also talks a lot about vomit, piss, and blood, and my guess is that this is to provoke a strong reaction in the reader/listener. Overall, this is a good book. I do recommend it to anyone looking for a serious, well-written read. 4.5 stars
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she's spent most of her 20-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father's death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London's close-knit Punjabi community.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, I would recommend this book to friends. It was an entertaining read with perfect narration.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows?
The short stories within the novel are the most memorable. They are erotic, but they are also funny at times.
Which scene was your favorite?
I'm not sure I have a favorite scene. This is a well-written novel with many scenes, and many good ones.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
This is a difficult question to answer without revealing spoilers, and I hate to give away anything from a novel in my reviews. This novel is more of a fun read, but there are some serious moments.
Any additional comments?
The title of this novel is genius. It immediately catches the reader's eye. However, this is much more than a few erotic short stories. This is a novel about short stories and the power of them. This is a novel about women. This is a novel about oppression. I could go on and on because this is a novel about many things. I put it in the same category as Eleanor Oliphant, which I also enjoyed a lot. This is a 4.5 star book, and I almost rounded up to 5 all the way across. The narration is great. The story is great. I do recommend.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful