LISTENER

Catie Joy

  • 2
  • reviews
  • 3
  • helpful votes
  • 122
  • ratings
  • The Island Dwellers

  • By: Jen Silverman
  • Narrated by: full cast
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

A passive-aggressive couple in the midst of a divorce compete over whose new fling is more exotic. A Russian migrant in Tokyo agonizes over the money her lover accepts from a yakuza. A dead body on a drug dealer’s floor leads to the strangest first date ever. In this razor-sharp debut collection, Jen Silverman delivers 11 interconnected stories that take place in expat bars, artist colonies, train stations, and matchbox apartments in the United States and Japan.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful short stories!

  • By Catie Joy on 05-07-18

Beautiful short stories!

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

Reviewed: 05-07-18

A gorgeous collection of loosely-connected short stories. The protagonists (nearly all young women) are people adrift, most of them in cities that are somehow foreign to them. A bored, married white woman in Manhattan begins to write a novel about her new hook-up’s Venezuelan childhood—without his permission or input. A twenty-something in Brooklyn suffers through her boyfriend's performance art. A nice professor in Iowa City decides to become a bad person—but only when she’s sleeping with her TA. A Russian factory worker in Japan frets about her best friend and lover, who is also the kept girlfriend of a member of the yakuza. A recent college graduate in New York works for a scattered, eccentric rich woman (for no money) and harbors a crush on her boss's probably-straight assistant. Background characters reappear, often years later and at different stages of their lives. This lends the collection a lovely sort of mid-aughts indie movie feel (everything is connected, even if only by a wispy thread).

As with most short story collections, not every piece will land for every reader. I lost interest in "Mamushi," but found every other story compelling. I enjoyed these stories so much that, on release day, having already read the egalley provided to me by NetGalley and Random House, I bought the audiobook and listened the the entire collection over the course of two days. I'm not usually a re-reader, but I know I will revisit these. The audiobook is as extraordinary as the stories themselves. Each story is performed by a different narrator (including several Audible fan favorites), which as far as I'm concerned is the ideal narration style for short fiction, as it differentiates each piece/ensures that the stories don't bleed together.

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

  • By: Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Narrated by: Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,250
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,935
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,933

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship - the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best novels I've listened to in years.

  • By Rain on 10-27-13

a beautifully-written book, with spot-on narration

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

Reviewed: 07-07-16

The obvious first: Lin-Manuel Miranda is an incredible audiobook narrator.

The book itself: The characters, from Aristotle and Dante to their parents (and even minor characters like Gina and Ari's off-stage brother) are so well-developed. The setting is beautifully described, and as Dante introduces Ari to great literature, his descriptions and observations become even richer and more lyrical.
In addition to demonstrating the significant impact of friendship can have on a lonely, angry teenager, this gorgeous novel is a testament to the necessity of supportive parenting.
If you enjoyed Eleanor & Park, you'll like this too—they're somewhat similar in tone, and Benjamin Alire Sáenz's writing is just as beautiful as Rainbow Rowell's.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful