LISTENER

Mitzi

United States
  • 17
  • reviews
  • 25
  • helpful votes
  • 42
  • ratings
  • The Breast

  • By: Philip Roth
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 1 hr and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 15

Like a latter-day, Gregor Smasa, Professor David Kepesh wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed. But where Kafka's protagonist turned into a giant beetle, the narrator of Philip Roth's richly conceived fantasy has become a 155-pound female breast. What follows is a deliriously funny yet touching exploration of the full implications of Kepesh's metamorphosis - a daring heretical book that brings us face to face with the intrinsic strangeness of sex and subjectivity.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 36D Kafka

  • By Darwin8u on 05-08-18

ROTH IS NO KAFKA

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

Reviewed: 04-12-18

What a horrible book!

I am not prudish and never blush before sexual or scurrilous language. In fact, I enjoy it. However, there is a difference between the genius poet who yells obscenities at a worthless existence, say, or the madness of humankind, and the next-door neighbor with Tourette syndrome who yells inscrutable profanities to appease his urge.

Actually, I take that back. The next-door neighbor has the entirely justifiable excuse of a neurodevelopmental condition. Philip Roth does not.

The expression of obscene and violent male sexual desires in this novel is no there to serve a plot; the book exists in order to offer a vehicle for Roth’s obscene and violent sexual fantasies.

Never seen anybody failing more grossly at imitating Kafka.

The reader did what he could, given the hollowness of the material.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Beautiful Visit

  • By: Elizabeth Jane Howard
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 29

On the eve of an unusual voyage, a young woman reviews her life. Her story begins with a 'beautiful visit' to friends in the country which serves as an awakening experience. What follows is an account of her struggle to retain the mood of her visit.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Profound

  • By Jane on 08-15-16

A Book I Have Already Forgotten

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

Reviewed: 04-11-18

The story has a decent plot. But:

1) The plot is a bit too much all over the place;

2) Major flaw: As one of the characters tells the protagonist, “You are the girl for whom everything is new.” And it is so. The protagonist is clueless and, worst of all, incapable of learning anything. She has zero personality. I don’t mind unlikable characters in literature at all: but she is not meant by the author to be unlikable, she just is because not a well-written character.

3) Maximal flaw: This book is utterly, completely, insufferably lacking in humor. Not even a sardonic note, an ironic tinge, a vaguely funny observation.
Juliet Stevenson, who has an excellent voice, uses the same dramatic tone throughout making the all thing quite irritating.

I am not saying one shouldn’t read this book. It’s ok. It is not horrid, it is not “offensive” to one’s intelligence. But it will leave no trace. I finished it a week ago, and I have already forgotten everything about it.

  • The Custom of the Country

  • By: Edith Wharton
  • Narrated by: Barbara Caruso
  • Length: 15 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 139
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131

Edith Wharton stands among the finest writers of early 20th-century America. In The Custom of the Country, Wharton’s scathing social commentary is on full display through the beautiful and manipulative Undine Spragg. When Undine convinces her nouveau riche parents to move to New York, she quickly injects herself into high society. But even a well-to-do husband isn’t enough for Undine, whose overwhelming lust for wealth proves to be her undoing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Cannot recommend a better narrator!

  • By Esther on 07-29-12

Wonderful writer. Wonderful reader.

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

Reviewed: 01-02-18

I would highly recommend this version of "The Custom of the Country." The reader, Barbara Caruso, does a superb job of conveying moods, characters' distinct personalities, etc. without overwhelming the narration or putting herself (her voice/performance) at the center of the experience. Her voice does not distract but adds to the beauty of a great classic.

There is nothing I can say about Wharton's writing that hasn't been said far better by over a hundred years of scholarship already.

What a masterful writer she was! Every paragraph is crafted so magnificently that it makes one feel sorry for our contemporary authors who always use the most obvious words and the most unimaginative phrases to say the most common things--thus *not* elevating them (as Wharton does) out of their everyday drabness. One example for all: I recently listened to "The Handmaid's Tale," and I remember thinking "there is not one single beautiful sentence worth remembering"--it's just only plot (and not a well written one at that). An author like Atwood would write that the characters of her story were afraid of getting fat. Fine. BUT Wharton writes of her character that she "shuddered at the
thought that she might some day deviate from the perpendicular"... heeeheehee :) GENIUS! *That* is great writing.

I highly recommend this fantastic story that captures a certain upper-class (mean) spirit so well to everyone (esp. Americans). And hats off to Barbara Caruso for a perfect performance.

The recording is slightly glitchy at times, but no text gets lost when those little hiccups occur.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

  • A Novel
  • By: Gail Honeyman
  • Narrated by: Cathleen McCarron
  • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,447
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 21,773
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,679

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Completely fine? No... Completely AWESOME

  • By Janna on 07-15-17

LOVELY STORY, WELL WRITTEN, WITHOUT PRETENSES

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

Reviewed: 12-07-17

I would definitely recommend this audible book. It was a truly sweet, original, lovely story with quite dramatic, but not corny/sentimental, twists. Written with humor and without pretenses.
A great "listen."

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Handmaid's Tale

  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Claire Danes
  • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29,261
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,603
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 26,599

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Top Pick for 2012

  • By Emily - Audible on 11-30-12

I STOMACHED IT. FINALLY NOW I CAN WATCH IT ON TV.

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

Reviewed: 12-07-17

I have no doubt this will make for a great contemporary TV series and I look forward to watching it. (In hope that a 21st-century generation of creative people were capable of upgrading and fixing the issues this book presents in its original version.)
However the book itself is soooooo BORING. And soooooo dated! And not well constructed: (1) the author should have explained the context immediately; instead the reader is finally let into the "secret" (and only minimally) of what's going on about 30 chapters into the book. Which is already such an old-fashioned way of writing, so passé and lame. (2) Since the author did not make the effort of clarifying the context of her story, at the end she had to add a final chapter that is a complete lazy lame copout--totally annoying.

The reader reads well, but boy her voice is boring too.

Several elements can single-handedly make a book great: an amazing story (not the case here), or, for example, as in Ian Mcewan for instance, the story may be weak but the poetic language so striking and beautiful that one cannot but fall in love with it (not the case here either).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Nutshell

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Rory Kinnear
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,627
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,481
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,473

From the best-selling author of Atonement, Nutshell is a classic story of murder and deceit, told by a narrator with a perspective and voice unlike any in recent literature. A bravura performance, it is the finest recent work from a true master. To be bound in a nutshell, see the world in two inches of ivory, in a grain of sand. Why not, when all of literature, all of art, of human endeavour is just a speck in the universe of possible things?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Long Version, and the Short.

  • By Ilana on 09-19-16

Nuts' Hell

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

Reviewed: 10-08-17

It is perfectly OK for literature to be fantastical: but no matter how implausible a story, it still ought to be credible. This one isn't.

For the pleasure of art to kick in, the reader must believe in what she is reading, even if it is rooted in the realm of total unrealism or surrealism.

This novel is plotted too sloppily to let one feel engaged and enamored with the story. Devoid of mystery, and terribly poor on inventiveness, this book did not allow me to plunge into its (shallow) depths and kept me, the reader, at bay, at all time. Not for a single moment was I *there* with/in the characters and their plot.

I advise those who are interested in Shakespearean offshoots to avoid this light-weight novel and read instead *Gertrude and Claudius* by John Updike, a masterpiece.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Man Called Ove

  • By: Fredrik Backman
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 9 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60,684
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55,527
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55,429

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon - the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him "the bitter neighbor from hell". But behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I Laughed and I Cried

  • By Bill on 08-22-15

HUMOR AND HUMANNESS: CHAPEAU, MR. BACKMAN!

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

Reviewed: 07-16-17

Where does A Man Called Ove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Impossible to rank that way, since I listened to lots and lots of books, many of which wonderful old classics. But it was certainly a pleasurable, unique, surprising, brilliant audiobook.

Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Newbern's voice, rhythm and tone are perfect for this particular book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

All of it. The last 30 pages had me crying my eyes out and howling in pain like a baby.

Any additional comments?

I am buying the physical copy of this book for everyone I know and respect as a reader.I had not laughed so much reading a book since Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces or Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.
But unlike other humorous works, A Man Called Ove brilliantly mixes together comedy and heartbreaking drama: one finds oneself laughing out loud one moment (making a fool of oneself in the pasta aisle at WholeFood's) and sobbing uncontrollably the next. Like all great humorists, the author is infinitely humane. And this is perhaps the strongest and most touching feature of his writing.I loved this book so much that I have decided not to watch the film--which Netflix keeps advertising as "Suggestion for me"... I don't want to ruin the fantastic taste the work has left me with (not yet, at least).I would highly recommend this audiobook to everyone, especially (let's say) 37 years old and above.Enjoy!

  • Ethan Frome

  • By: Edith Wharton
  • Narrated by: David McCallion
  • Length: 3 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 28
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 28

There may never have been a novel written about love and loss with more irony of poetry than Ethan Frome. Written almost exclusively in flashback, Ethan Frome has continued to draw attention and accolades since its publication in 1911 by famed writer Edith Wharton. When we are introduced to the novel's protagonist, we discover that he is married yet inconveniently in love with his wife's cousin, who is spending time with the family to help care for Ethan's sick wife.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • So sad.

  • By Kimberly on 05-08-16

BUY A DIFFERENT AUDIO-EDITION OR READ IT YOURSELF

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

Reviewed: 02-05-16

What would have made Ethan Frome better?

A BETTER, MUCH BETTER READER

Would you recommend Ethan Frome to your friends? Why or why not?

I would recommend "Ethan Frome" to everyone--but NOT this audio-version of it. It is awful.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of David McCallion?

Anybody more capable. Unfortunately, Mr. McCallion, who otherwise has a nice accent, has a terrible reading voice. The reader, when simulating/acting someone's part (esp. Frome's himself), forgets to switch back to narrator's voice and therefore the dialogues often overflow into the narrations resulting in an ugly and confusing effect. McCallion overdoes his imitations too. I started listening to this audiobook from the beginning three times! Each time I reached a saturation point (about 20 minutes into it) and could not listen any farther. Naturally, this opinion has nothing to do with the phenomenal talent of Wharton as a writer--I think she was a genius and one of my favorite of the great American classics.So, do read the book, by all means, it is beautiful: but either try a different reader (a woman, preferably) or read the hard copy.

What character would you cut from Ethan Frome?

None. Edith Wharton made no mistakes. David McCallion on the other hand....

Any additional comments?

The publisher of this edition took the liberty of opening the book with a summary of the plot! (Incredible!) If you have not previously read the book, be ready to jump out of your skin because the listening experience begins with a spoiler of unsurpassed proportions.

2 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Complete Stories

  • By: Bernard Malamud
  • Narrated by: Matthew Boston, Steven Cooper, Crystal Sershen, and others
  • Length: 27 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

The volume gathers together fifty-five stories, from "Armistice" (1940) to "Alma Redeemed" (1984), and including the immortal stories from The Magic Barrel and the vivid depictions of the unforgettable Fidelman. It is a varied and generous collection of great examples of the modern short story, which Malamud perfected, and an ideal introduction to the work of this great American writer.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • New Lesson: Audible Is NOT for Short Stories

  • By Mitzi on 10-18-15

New Lesson: Audible Is NOT for Short Stories

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

Reviewed: 10-18-15

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes, its genius writer.

Any additional comments?

I own the hard copy of this book and know the stories well, some of which I also taught several times. I adore Malamud. I needed to re-read this particular volume, in its entirety, for a research project and thought that listening to it, instead, could be a great new way to appreciate it. Oh boy! I will never buy an audiobook of short stories again. I understand (now) that audiobooks are great for novels, but not for short narratives. You don’t have the time to get used to the voice of the narrator, to penetrate deeply a story through that performer’s voice and interpretation. It was awful. I could not pay attention, and I did not like some of the voices either (particularly, one of the female readers in the bunch).

I highly recommend this book in print but would discourage everybody from purchasing the audio-version.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Love, Nina

  • Despatches from Family Life
  • By: Nina Stibbe
  • Narrated by: Nina Stibbe
  • Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 35

In the 1980s, Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. There’s a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An hilarious and joyful look into an era

  • By Toby on 11-11-13

Brilliant, Funny, Refreshingly Original

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

Reviewed: 05-28-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Applause! Applause! Applause! Absolutely brilliant! I am amazed at the narrative quality of these letters, considering that they were written when Nina Stibbe was still very young! These are the work of a born writer, someone who has a brilliant sense of character construction, story manipulation and scene staging… Fantastic.

The way in which Nina describes her London life as a bay-sitter and undergraduate (i.e., her coming of age story at the right place surrounded by just the right people) in her correspondence with her sister is engaging, hilarious, clever, astonishingly original.

I'm usually against writers (yes, including poets) reading their own material: but this is a fortunate exception. This is due to the nature of an epistolary memoir: I believe that only the actual author of those letters(reproduced without any contextual addition) knows the intention or spirit with which each was written, and therefore only the writer behind the correspondence can correctly render the emotions the girl was trying to communicate (often through irony) to her sister. I think that an actor/narrator might have easily misinterpreted many passages (mistaking irony for brattishness, or vice versa, for example), because it is hard to guess the emotional context of each missive when this context is not explicitly provided by the text (unlike conventional novels and memoirs). For this reason, I suspect, this book is particularly effective in its audible version, and I would probably appreciate it less in its print edition… Although I am going to try it too.

I would highly recommend this audiobook to everyone I know.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful