LISTENER

A. Yerkes

United States
  • 19
  • reviews
  • 93
  • helpful votes
  • 51
  • ratings
  • Letterman

  • The Last Giant of Late Night
  • By: Jason Zinoman
  • Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 273
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 270

In a career spanning more than 30 years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman, Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer's titanic legacy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fails to Capture What Made Letterman Great

  • By Richard D. Ross on 04-21-17

Reminder of Letterman's Absurdist Genius

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

Reviewed: 04-26-17

Before and surpassing all current late-night hosts, Letterman innovated in countless ways (remote shoots, absurdist pranks such as dropping watermelons off buildings or putting a guy on the streets of NYC in a bear suit, using show staff as recurring characters, top-ten-style jokes) that today's hosts copy. What is missing is Letterman's sarcastic, ironic, hilarious detachment from the nonsense that surrounded him. The pleasures of this book are found in a briskly paced, satisfying recounting of the changing role that Letterman played in the show over the years, also including interesting stories of his youthful creative efforts. Zinoman describes Letterman's on-air personality as paradigmatic of the era. It is fun to be reminded of Dave's hilarious obsessions and routines: Larry "Bud" Melman, Connie Chung, Stupid Pet Tricks. It also convincingly explains the changes as the show became massive and softened in later years, factoring in his subject's shortcomings as well as his genius. There was no mention of Alan Coulter, "TV's Uncle Jerry," Tony the cue-card boy, or dog poetry, but you can't fit everything in. Overall a great listen, well-read.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Nix

  • A Novel
  • By: Nathan Hill
  • Narrated by: Ari Fliakos
  • Length: 21 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,851
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,279
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,255

It's 2011, and Samuel Andresen-Anderson - college professor, stalled writer - has a Nix of his own: his mother, Faye. He hasn't seen her in decades, not since she abandoned the family when he was a boy. Now she's reappeared, having committed an absurd crime that electrifies the nightly news, beguiles the Internet, and inflames a politically divided country. The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high school sweetheart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nathan Hill is an exceptional storyteller.

  • By Bonny on 09-13-16

Vivid Historical Fiction

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

Reviewed: 12-12-16

This is a fantastic and emotionally gripping novel, recounting the story of a wannabee author’s search for his mother’s hidden past, suspensefully unraveled in two parallel chronologies set in 1968 and 2011. The characterization is superb, avoiding stereotypes and giving even smaller characters complexity, depicting their inner worlds with empathy and a sense of humor that never overwhelms the novel’s central themes about the inevitability of change and the effect of time and experience on humans and their stories -- in the language of the novel, the “puzzles” that we all are. The novel builds to an apocalyptic finale set in the Democratic National Convention of 1968 that shows the power of fiction to reinvigorate history. Along the way, Hill convincingly puts the reader into the minds of Allen Ginsberg, Walter Cronkite, and Hubert Humphrey. The novel brought to mind DeLillo in its dialogue, Pynchon in its humor (but restrained here), and Dickens in its resolving revelations of the hidden links between characters, but the result is an original work, with some deep themes about the power of story. I found it easy to get absorbed in the plot through its excellent reading, which distinguishes characters with accents without overdoing it. Ultimately, this is a work that satisfies emotionally and conceptually.

  • I Think You're Totally Wrong

  • A Quarrel
  • By: David Shields, Caleb Powell
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross, Luis Moreno
  • Length: 5 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5

A debate, nearly to the death, about life and art, cocktails included. And a soon-to-be major motion picture from James Franco! Caleb Powell always wanted to become an artist, but he overcommitted to life (he's a stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas his former professor David Shields always wanted to become a human being, but he has overcommitted to art.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good Pseudo-Intellectual Chore Soundtrack

  • By A. Yerkes on 05-25-15

Good Pseudo-Intellectual Chore Soundtrack

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

Reviewed: 05-25-15

After reading/hearing other works by Shields, which I liked a lot, I turned to this one, and found it less engaging, but still worthwhile. It's an unpolished dialogue about a range of topics related to middle-aged North American intellectual bros, partially cloying, but also with gleams of insight and references to literary and cultural works that seem worth seeking out. Some good theories of culture, the meaning of life, sports, and personal ethics. This is nothing mind-blowing, but ideally suited for audio consumption while you're cleaning your kitchen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Meaning of Life

  • A Very Short Introduction
  • By: Terry Eagleton
  • Narrated by: Jay Snyder
  • Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 22

The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Philosophizing beyond Nihilism or Fundamentalism

  • By A. Yerkes on 05-23-15

Philosophizing beyond Nihilism or Fundamentalism

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

Reviewed: 05-23-15

Eagleton’s exploration of the meaning of life takes the listener on a meandering and fascinating path through intellectual culture, focusing mostly on 20th-century philosophy. Like the best of Eagleton’s literary theory and criticism, this audiobook shifts between profound, thought-provoking claims and humorous phrasings and analogies that keeps things lively. Likewise, the themes of the discussion are familiar from other works of his: he banks many of his best shots off the backboard of postmodern thought, rejecting its relativistic pluralism and its privatization of values. He’s particularly interested in the role that language plays in meaning and the implications of the possibility that life is meaningless. Listeners with some background in modern thought, and an interest to learn more, will find this recording worthwhile. The reader is well matched to the material.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Narrative Structures and the Language of the Self

  • Theory Interpretation Narrative
  • By: Matthew Clark
  • Narrated by: Doug Lee
  • Length: 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 3

Narrative Structures and the Language of the Self by Matthew Clark offers a new way of thinking about the interrelation of character and plot. Clark investigates the characters brought together in a narrative, considering them not as random collections but as structured sets that correspond to various manifestations of the self. The shape and structure of these sets can be thought of as narrative geometry, and various geometries imply various theories of the self.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating Topic, Unsuccessfully Addressed

  • By A. Yerkes on 05-17-15

Fascinating Topic, Unsuccessfully Addressed

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

Reviewed: 05-17-15

It is encouraging to see audible offering academic texts on fascinating topics, but this selection has serious shortcomings both in terms of its substance and implementation. The author is exploring how models of selfhood appear in literature, but after a brief introduction the book is mostly a discussion of the plot and themes of various works of fiction, in which the author slots them into various categories of types of treatments of the self (Hegelian, Aristophanic, dyadic,) and while these books seem sensibly organized, the larger implications of the presence of these patterns of selfhood is inadequately considered. The book is thin in terms of cultural theory, historical context, cognitive science . . . any larger framing, really. The author fails to answer the crucial question of “so what?”

Another problem with this selection is that it is incompetently read, with many distracting, ridiculous mispronunciations of commonplace intellectual words that draw the listener out of the argument. This book requires that the reader be able to speak French and German, neither of which he can. The French passages, for instance, are read in an effete, comically high-pitched caricature of how a provincial American might imagine French people talk. Hiring an academic adviser to coach readers on pronunciations of big words, and using readers who can competently speak in the requisite foreign languages, could improve the quality of books like this.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Consciousness

  • A Very Short Introduction
  • By: Susan Blackmore
  • Narrated by: Tamara Marston
  • Length: 4 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86

"The last great mystery for science," consciousness has become a controversial topic. Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction challenges listeners to reconsider key concepts such as personality, free will, and the soul. How can a physical brain create our experience of the world? What creates our identity? Do we really have free will? Could consciousness itself be an illusion? Exciting new developments in brain science are opening up these debates, and the field has now expanded to include biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Substantial, Thought-Provoking, Clear Introduction

  • By A. Yerkes on 05-17-15

Substantial, Thought-Provoking, Clear Introduction

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

Reviewed: 05-17-15

This fascinating short book is nicely read. It introduces the most important major topics of debate and discussion in consciousness studies, a field whose many unresolved, complex questions pose an especially difficult challenge for the writer of an introductory text like this. Blackmore has a knack for framing her discussion by starting with strange aspects of consciousness that we can all identify with from our daily experience, such as our sneaking suspicion that those around us might be zombies, or wondering whether the smell of coffee is the same to me as it is to others. She provides the most important theories regarding the issues under discussion, drawing from philosophy and cognitive science, then clearly states her own conclusions regarding which theory is most convincing. The book is very well-organized, focused around the “hard problem” regarding consciousness, meaning how the material brain creates it. A common shortcoming of introductory accounts of consciousness is an over-reliance on an often-regurgitated set of case studies that many authors dutifully recite without following up on the implications. This book avoids that mistake. Blackmore is careful to make sure the reader is always aware of the larger significance of the discussion. I found the final chapter especially exciting, where she decisively refutes the intuitive delusions that (1) selfhood perseveres consistently over time, and (2) that consciousness is a stream of experience.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Healing Back Pain

  • By: John E. Sarno M.D.
  • Narrated by: John E. Sarno M.D.
  • Length: 3 hrs and 23 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 947
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 733
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 727

With case histories and the results of in-depth mind-body research, Dr. Sarno describes how patients recognize the emotional roots of their back pain and sever the connections between mental and physical pain - and how, just by listening to this program, you may start recovering from back pain today!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • this book saved my life. I have been pain free <br />

  • By Mitchel Lazar on 10-05-16

Bunk!

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

Reviewed: 09-26-14

The many positive reviews, combined with a "20-20" TV-journalism piece praising the doc., compelled me to try this in spite of my skepticism and my friends' bemusement, but my moderate lumbar stenosis has not dissipated in light of the doctor's claims that back pain is caused by the repression of rage. Maybe this is true for some people with milder symptoms, but it didn't work for me.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

  • How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks
  • By: Kathleen Flinn
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 156
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 141
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 140

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultraprocessed foods. Flinn's "chefternal" instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Just as much a self-help book as a cookbook.

  • By J. Locke on 03-07-13

Too Much Author in the Recipe

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

Reviewed: 10-24-13

As a proficient cook who is over-reliant on Cook's Illustrated, I was hoping this book would help me learn to freestyle in the kitchen, rather than always be chained to recipes. It doesn't provide that kind of information, and I found it lacking in the useful tips that others have discovered here. More damning, the book is bogged down by long passages of personal detail from the author, telling us about her blessed professional career as a chef, her lucky life in Seattle, and her fortuitous luxury cruises. I didn't care. An additional problem is that there's lots of recipes in the audio, so you end up having long lists of ingredients being read to you. The everyday people that she selects to enlighten with her wisdom in scenes of instruction are hot-pocket-heating neophytes with everything to learn. If you have basic cooking competence, I would suggest passing on this one.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Jacked

  • The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto
  • By: David Kushner
  • Narrated by: Adam Verner
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 223
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 208
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 208

Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest and most controversial videogame franchises of all time. Since its first release in 1997, GTA has pioneered the use of everything from 3D graphics to the voices of top Hollywood actors and repeatedly transformed the world of gaming. Despite its incredible innovations in the $75 billion game industry, it has also been a lightning rod of debate, spawning accusations of ethnic and sexual discrimination, glamorizing violence, and inciting real-life crimes.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Kushner Writes Well, Verner Drops the Ball

  • By L. Productions on 03-24-13

Doesn't Get the Creative Story

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

Reviewed: 10-24-13

While this audiobook provides a brisk, well-narrated history of Rockstar Games' corporate evolution, I wanted to hear a little bit less about the decadent lifestyle and threatening workplace elitism, and more about the creative process of game design and world building. There is some of this, as when we're told of the Scottish engineers driving through the streets of LA with a microphone, recording street conversations to make GTA3 sound authentic, but I wanted a lot more. Sam and Dan Houser are clearly the heart of the story of GTA, but they did not cooperate with this book''s production, and without their perspective, this account is hollow. We don't get enough about Dan's writing process (did his literary studies influence his game scripting?) or the engineering challenges, not to mention there is no commentary or interpretative angle on the various GTA ludonarratives, nor any theorization of the larger significance of these games in the current culture. It's not that kind of book.

I found the Jack Thompson plot to be diverting and not interesting enough to take up as much space as it did. It could have been effectively edited down, and seems like its there to fill up what is an underdeveloped narrative.

That said, this book is somewhat enjoyable, and if you are curious about Rockstar, you will probably enjoy is, at least partially. It provided part of the story, but the great account of Rockstar is yet to be written.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Cane

  • By: Jean Toomer
  • Narrated by: Sean Crisden
  • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 25
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26

First published in 1923, Jean Toomer's Cane is an innovative literary work powerfully evoking black life in the South. Rich in imagery, Toomer's impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and urban life are permeated by visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and fire; the northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well-Executed Classic

  • By A. Yerkes on 02-28-13

Well-Executed Classic

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

Reviewed: 02-28-13

This audiobook is a perfect example of how to artfully narrate a classic, and I was delighted to see it offered on audio. The reader gets the accents right, can pronounce everything he has to, and more importantly hits the perfect tone, not overacting the dialogue or injecting pathos, which lesser readers would be tempted to do. Instead, there's a restraint to the narration, which makes the few places where he does indulge a character voice, such as the super-bad King Barlo in the "Esther" story, all the more impactful. I found myself easily slipping into Toomer's imagistic trance, not pulled out by any affectations of delivery. Bravo Sean Crisden!

It should be noted that this is a complex, experimental book that rewards rereading. I'm not sure if listening is the way to go if it's your first time through, but as someone who has read and reread this book over the years, I loved hearing this audio version. It took me deeper into the text that reading alone has. I found the reader especially good with the poetry, where again the reader resisted over-emoting. The last section, Kabnis is a bit plodding, as it is written like a play, and the narrative doesn't always flow. But this is no fault of the reader; it's the text as Toomer wrote it.

Too often, classic, challenging works are severely botched in their audio versions. I hope producers and actors will follow the example that this one sets.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful