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W Perry Hall

  • 400
  • reviews
  • 2,915
  • helpful votes
  • 924
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  • The Executioner's Song

  • By: Norman Mailer
  • Narrated by: Maxwell Hamilton
  • Length: 42 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning and unforgettable classic about convicted killer Gary Gilmore now in audio. Arguably the greatest book from America's most heroically ambitious writer, The Executioner's Song follows the short, blighted life of Gary Gilmore who became famous after he robbed two men in 1976 and killed them in cold blood. After being tried and convicted, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do so, he fought a system that seemed intent on keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Pulitzer-winner spoiled by numskulled narration

  • By W Perry Hall on 05-21-18

Pulitzer-winner spoiled by numskulled narration

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

Reviewed: 05-21-18

I'm not going to waste my time or yours with another rant about yet another case of an audiobook publisher's clear disregard for the greatness of a book--such as THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG--in refusing to hire a narrator who would rate even a decent job in the reading.

The mispronunciations in this audiobook are staggering. The last straws, ironically for me, came 23 hours in with SEVERAL references to the blowhard self-promoter Geraldo Rivera--using a hard G as with the word "gist" or "joke," as in Jeraldo Rivera, instead of the silent G for Geraldo. Unbelievable!

The ignorance of the narrator and the audiobook's director of the correct pronunciation of such simple words is stupefying. What a shame!

Writing a real review of the book's substance would, to my mind, countenance this type of callousness toward, and insult to the intelligence of, other Audible customers and me.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

  • A Novel
  • By: Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Narrated by: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, Robin Miles
  • Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,646
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,527
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,526

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Captured once again

  • By Georgina on 07-22-17

Glucose Gluttony

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

Reviewed: 03-17-18


Paraphrasing a quote attributed to Abe Lincoln: 'For those who like this kind of a book, it is just about the kind of a book they would like.'

This was a significant failure in my vetting process, plain and simple.

While reading this novel, over and over I winced or rolled my eyes at the soppy prose that brought to mind the picture of one being force-fed a huge jar of crystallized honey (left in the pantry for the past year plus). I love honey, but crystallized...no, no way. E.g.,

'I loved you so much, that I thought you were the meaning of my life... I thought that people were put on Earth to find other people, and I was put on Earth to find you. To find you, and touch your skin, and smell your breath, and hear all your thoughts....'

The book is also a sugary trove of cliched gems, such as:

'Sometimes reality comes crashing down on you.'

'When you’re given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. '

'It felt like water in the desert.'


And schmaltzy advice like, 'You have to find a job that makes your heart feel big instead of one that makes it feel small.'


You shouldn't need any advice if you read the quotes above.


6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Collusion

  • Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win
  • By: Luke Harding
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 830
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 747
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 747

Russia expert Luke Harding lays out the most in-depth look to date at the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia. Beginning with a meeting with Christopher Steele, the man behind the shattering dossier that first brought the allegations to light, Harding probes the histories of key Russian and American players with striking clarity and insight. Harding exposes the disquieting details of the Trump-Russia story - a saga so huge it involves international espionage, offshore banks, sketchy real estate deals, mobsters, money laundering, disappeared dissidents, and more.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superior to 'Fire/Fury' in Depth & in Making Case

  • By W Perry Hall on 03-01-18

Superior to 'Fire/Fury' in Depth & in Making Case

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

Reviewed: 03-01-18


'Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.' --Machiavelli

'Since the first day I took office, all you hear is the phony Democrat excuse for losing the election, Russia, Russia, Russia....'
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Nov. 26, 2017

''...'collusion,' which doesn't exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics'' Id.

'Who ya gonna believe: me or your own eyes?' Chico Marx


Saying it ain't so is no defense in light of all proof to date. [see legal definition of ipse dixit]. No matter how many times or how loudly you say it. An old saying in the legal profession, which you may well have heard before, goes, 'If the facts are on your side, hammer on the facts. If the law's for you, hit on the law. If neither, pound on the table.'

The last doesn't usually work. Humans are way too smart to fall for it. Nonetheless we might do so when it serves our duty to zealously represent a client. So, I can't really blame Trump for pounding on the table repeatedly. There isn't much else he can do as the evidence mounts of not only collusion between his campaign staff and the Russian government but of his repeated attempts to obstruct the investigation.

If you want to know the probable path down which the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation will go, you MUST read this book. You will understand, as one example, the relevance and materiality of POTUS Trump’s financials which he has, to date, adamantly refused to make public.

Sad to say: this will be a Dark chapter in U.S. history and if the charges are proven (not even considering what is uncovered by the ongoing investigation), they will likely lead to articles of impeachment by a Republican-led House and removal upon conviction by a Republican-led Senate.

This anti-Kremlin Republican read this book, which succinctly gathers and brilliantly organizes reports and credible evidence proffered to date and adds reliable materials to make a case that is Absolutely Damning, and I am even further shocked and dismayed by the incredulities of those who willfully disregard the current administration's love affair with Vladimir Putin and all the signs pointing to Russia's involvement in helping to elect a President of the United States.

I wonder what their grandparents and great-grandparents would have to say about communist Russia's infiltrations into our political system. And would they be angrier with Russia than they'd be ashamed of their descendants’ willful blindness to the threats imposed upon our shining democracy?

If these ties/links are proven by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Watergate will seem, by comparison, like it was a trial on jaywalking charges.

Written by first foreign journalist to be expelled from Russia since the end of the Cold War due to his unflattering coverage of Russia, including stories on sources of Vladimir Putin's wealth and Putin's knowledge of the London assassination of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

  • Stories
  • By: Denis Johnson
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman, Michael Shannon, Dermot Mulroney, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. Written in the luminous prose that made him one of the most beloved and important writers of his generation, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • RIP Denis Johnson

  • By Thomas B. Houghton on 01-19-18

His Tumulus of Stunning Sirenic Stories

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

Reviewed: 03-01-18


Once in a while, I know my lexicon is insufficient to give a book all due accolades. That, or I'm speechless from its hypnotic effect, or I'm worried I don't have time to write a review succinct enough that a potential reader will read it and be persuaded to read the book ASAP. Right now it's all of the above, so I borrow from others who've more experience and who were paid to review this Absolutely Brilliant book. And thus, the below are the best and truest blurbs from reviews I read of 'The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories.'

Sam Sacks, WSJ: 'Johnson’s stories tread a crooked path through illness, addiction, criminality, mania and simple existential confusion. His gift is to extract the beauty in all that brokenness, like the painters who pulled holy light out of the wounds of martyrs.'

Lincoln Michel, BOMB: 'My god, that voice. Johnson somehow manages to be both conversational and poetic, simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious... [with] an astonishing power to turn from one emotion to another in a line or two. His transitions between stories, sections, and paragraphs are worth the study of every aspiring fiction writer. [This is a] terrific book of heart, humanity, and humor. Read and treasure it. It is a final gift from a master.'

Maureen Corrigan, NPR: 'Like those direct addresses to his future readers that Whitman scatters throughout Leaves of Grass, Johnson, in these stories, anticipates talking across the abyss that separates the quick from the dead... [The collection] affirms literature's promise to believers, the gift of eternal voice.'

Publishers Weekly: 'a masterpiece of deep humanity and astonishing prose … an instant classic. It's filled with Johnson's unparalleled ability to inject humor, profundity, and beauty—often all three—into the dark and the mundane alike.'

Kevin Zambrano, The Rumpus: '[The characters in this collection] seem to see, as Wallace Stevens put it, 'Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.' Perhaps this point of view comes from proximity to death.''


The narrators are superb and each read his story with verve and pitch-perfection.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Plague

  • By: Albert Camus
  • Narrated by: James Jenner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 604
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 456
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 464

In the small coastal city of Oran, Algeria, rats begin rising up from the filth, only to die as bloody heaps in the streets. Shortly after, an outbreak of the bubonic plague erupts and envelops the human population. Albert Camus' The Plague is a brilliant and haunting rendering of human perseverance and futility in the face of a relentless terror born of nature.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Translator Please!

  • By Plain English on 06-04-11

Psychosis of Fear: Panic, Apathy, Insanity

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

Reviewed: 02-24-18


A powerful novel on a plague's petrifying effects on society's psychosis: the pullulating fear and panic, apathy for life, and loss of fundamental sanity.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The World of Yesterday

  • Memoirs of a European
  • By: Stefan Zweig, Anthea Bell - translator
  • Narrated by: David Horovitch
  • Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 106
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 99

Stefan Zweig's memoir, The World of Yesterday, recalls the golden age of prewar Europe - its seeming permanence, its promise and its devastating fall with the onset of two world wars. Zweig's passionate, evocative prose paints a stunning portrait of an era that danced brilliantly on the brink of extinction. It is an unusually humane account of Europe from the closing years of the 19th century through to World War II, seen through the eyes of one of the most famous writers of his era.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lucidity whilst Civilization reverts to barbarism

  • By e.j.b. on 06-25-17

Abounding Beauty then Utter Sadness

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

Reviewed: 02-24-18


An inimitably enriching, terrifically enthralling literary memoir of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian writer who was the world's most popular in the 1930s until he was forced by increasing Nazi pressure to flee continental Europe in 1934 and emigrate to England, the United States and ultimately Brazil.

Zweig's gorgeous descriptions and memories sweep the reader into the Hapsburg empire of the early 20th Century. He vividly captures the aesthetics, sophisticated culture, art and beauty of Vienna at the time. It's like a dreamscape in homage to his homeland.

Zweig then drops the reader into a palpable simulation of the fear and utter disbelief one would feel to be a world-famous author who is forced to abandon his home and homeland and run for his life simply because he was born Jewish.

Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Grant

  • By: Ron Chernow
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 48 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3,275
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,989
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2,971

Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow sows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book (BUT WHERE IS THE PDF FILES)????

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-25-17

'he was nothing heroic..and yet the greatest hero'

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

Reviewed: 02-24-18


'he was nothing heroic....and yet the greatest hero.'
Walt Whitman of Ulysses S. Grant

A blue ribbon historical biography by Ron Chernow, who is one of the only historical biographers in recent years to gain some public notoriety, from his Alexander Hamilton serving as the basis and inspiration for Broadway's still-SRO 'Hamilton.'

We read biographies, it seems, to remind us that the individual can matter and to learn what came to make the individuals who have mattered most. On both points, Chernow's Grant is a grand slam.

The book most significantly accomplishes two goals. One, it provides clarity, context and perspective on Grant's faults, and why he's gotten a bum rap in history classes over the past century after being one of the three most favorably viewed presidents at the end of the 19th century. Second, it shows his huge accomplishments during his two terms serving as United States president.

Chernow holds Grant accountable for his faults, but demonstrates that they have been greatly exaggerated or overblown as the result of the Southerners' resentment and in service to their Lost Cause myth--that the Civil War was fought over states' rights and not over slavery.

As Chernow thoroughly examines and concludes: Grant was an alcoholic, but a situational one rather than habitual drinker and the evidence indicates he never drank during a major military campaign; he was not a butcher on the battlefield, but beat the Southerners with smarts as well as numbers and even his mistakes--the carnage at Cold Harbor and bloody Shiloh--had in mind winning the war sooner than later and thus saving lives by its end; he was not incompetent, but rather gullible, naive and too trusting of those upon whom he relied and hired in his administration, as well as at fault for hiring too many old friends and family; and, while his administration was stained as corrupt, he never benefited a dime, and again was burned and his reputation tarnished by those he negligently trusted.

The more important point of this bio is that the faults have unfairly obscured his successes in office. Grant fulfilled what he considered his mission as president: preserving the Union and safeguarding the freed slaves. He crushed the first incarnation of the KKK who had killed thousands of former slaves and their supporters. And, he ensured the passage of the civil rights amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the 13th outlawing slavery, the 14th applying the Bill of Rights--including every citizen's right to equal protection--to the states, and the 15th granting black men the right to vote. As Frederick Douglass declared, Lincoln made 'the negro...a freeman and General Ulysses S. Grant made him a citizen,' in placing Grant alongside Lincoln as the man who had done the most for the nation's 4 million former slaves.

Chernow also splendidly covers his younger years and what made him so great as the commanding general of the Union Army.

Chernow concludes that Grant is worthy of being labeled the 'Civil Rights president.' After reading this rather hefty bio, I agree.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Before the Fall

  • By: Noah Hawley
  • Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8,915
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,164
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8,142

On a foggy summer night, 11 people - 10 privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter - depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later the unthinkable happens: The plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs - the painter - and a four-year-old boy who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!! Robert Petkoff is remarkable!

  • By C. Vincent on 06-05-16

Internal Strength to Survive Extreme Events & Evil

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18


The protagonist saves himself and the only kid aboard a small airplane-with 7 others aboard--that crashes several miles off the New England shoreline, swimming many hours, mostly at night, to reach shore.

As in the brilliant TV series Fargo, on which he is the main writer, Mr. Hawley consumes the consumer with a story existential in nature, fascinating and chilling us with how ordinary people react to extreme events, contrasting the darkest evil in the human condition with those of us who stick to our moral compass and draw upon our natural resources for endurance and our capacity for resilience.

Here, Noah Hawley gives us a captivating ride, teasing us to keep reading his story exploring the fiendish side of fame or heroism, the hazards of demagoguery masquerading as the free press, and the surprising strength within us if we hold on to hope.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Steppenwolf

  • By: Hermann Hesse
  • Narrated by: Peter Weller
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 879
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 672
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 671

Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I was the Steppenwolf

  • By Robyn on 02-21-10

Best Novel on Intellectual Male's Midlife Crisis

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

Reviewed: 02-23-18


I likely would have ridiculed this novel at 20, when I was unconquerable, infinite, the world my oyster. Thirty years on, having been through the process of disenchantment called life, and survived the tragic ends (de facto and de jure) of each chapter of my personal myth--the perfect job, a huge house, insane wealth, and adoration of both my looks and smarts--I find this novel profound.

Hermann Hesse wrote this in his late 40s and I can see parts of myself--now and in my recent past--in his fictional alter ego, Harry Haller, a self-isolated intellectual who thinks of himself as a steppenwolf (or a wolf from the steppes), experiencing an ongoing existential crisis, bouts of acute loneliness, fleeting thoughts of death, and a continuing coming to terms with a bourgeois society which he hates yet needs. I can see the wisdom of a life lived, in terms spiritual and at times--even still--animalistic.

I found fascinating the magic theatre to which Harry was invited, a place which serves as a reminder of why he should want to live, allowing him to experience encounters (not necessarily sexual) with females from his past, meetings with these unrequited loves or lusts in which he's no longer shy nor suffering the hangups and insecurities of a young man or boy.

Variations of this magical venue often pepper my dreams. Call them my subconscious yawps for immortality, or maybe, on a deeper level, my psyche's nocturnal pursuits of prurient propagation.

I highly recommend this novel to men in their 40s and 50s, and to their spouses/partners for possible enlightenment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Ill Will

  • A Novel
  • By: Dan Chaon
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos, Edoardo Ballerini, Michael Crouch, and others
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 406
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 377
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 376

"We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves." This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it's meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie? A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his 40s when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin's parents, aunt, and uncle.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not for those who like rosy things

  • By cristina on 03-23-17

Eerily electric, Cerebral thriller

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

Reviewed: 02-18-18


An eerily electric and cerebral thriller with undertones of horror

How reliable are our memories from childhood? Are some just echoes of hallucinations? Were some placed by suggestion or shaded by self-delusion? Were the unsolved murders of the protagonist's parents really part of a satanic ritual or was all 'evidence' of such attributable to the 1980s hysteria for suspecting murderers-for-Mephistopheles?

Dan Chaon is a maestro at modulating keys of madness and fear in both the protagonist and the reader. As Ill Will progresses in intentional fragments from various POVs and times, the story gets more hazy and more harrowing, with an unsettling sense in the subtext of the sordid and at times the perversely erotic.

And yet, putting this book down is like awaking from a nightmare and feeling the urge of self-preservation to re-enter it because you were right on the verge of figuring everything out.

The novel is the cynosure of creeping doom and escalating uncertainty. So, beware of the scrooping sounds from the chorus of criticasters who need their stories to end in a nice tight package to appreciate literary brilliance. Ill Will will have your hair on end and leave you with cold blood coursing your veins.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful