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W Perry Hall

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  • The Town

  • A Novel of the Snopes Family
  • By: William Faulkner
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88

The story of Flem Snopes' ruthless struggle to take over the town of Jefferson, Mississippi, this is the second volume of Faulkner's trilogy about the Snopes family, his symbol for the grasping, destructive element in the post-bellum South.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Accessible Faulkner

  • By Doug on 03-28-11

Superb and Accessible Second in Snopes Trilogy

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

Reviewed: 01-13-19

This superb second in the Snopes trilogy (*The Hamlet,* *The Town,* and *The Mansion*) is an improvement from and much more accessible than the first, and, for that matter, than all of Faulkner's oeuvre with the exceptions of *The Unvanquished* (a series of related shorts) and the novel *Light in August.*

I was surprised, saddened and ultimately edified upon learning the fate of a significant fictional female, whose character and what she symbolized were bound to doom by the growing commercialization of the American South in the first few decades of the 20th Century.

  • Rising out of Hatred

  • The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist
  • By: Eli Saslow
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick, Eli Saslow
  • Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 286
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 265
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 264

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned 19, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show - already regarded as the "the leading light" of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. "We can infiltrate," Derek once told a crowd of white nationalists. "We can take the country back." Then he went to college. Derek had been homeschooled, steeped in the culture of white supremacy, and had rarely encountered diverse perspectives or direct outrage against his beliefs. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Essential reading in this time

  • By Audiophile on 09-27-18

Evil and the Damage Done

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

Reviewed: 01-13-19

A nearly perfect must-read, this book is both thought-provoking and enlightening on the racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, homophobic, backwards ideas of white supremacy and its propaganda in the U.S.A., its preachers and flock--these perpetrators of hate, perpetuators of evil--as well as on how some of these elemental myths and bullshit were appropriated and continue to be used by a U.S. president as a means of fueling hatred among his base and playing on the many whites' fears of those who aren't like them (in their skin color, nationality, religion, sexuality).

Much more importantly though, this outstanding book reminded me of the benefits and blessing of a higher education that includes the liberal arts. Further, it stands as a tribute to those college classmates of a young white nationalist leader, who are Jewish, gay, or of another race, courageous, kind and selfless enough to befriend this enemy and help to slowly and eventually transform his mind, via friendship and the art of gentle, subtle and patient persuasion.

  • The Third Hotel

  • By: Laura van den Berg
  • Narrated by: Bailey Carr
  • Length: 6 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 11

Shortly after Clare arrives in Havana, Cuba, to attend the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema, she finds her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. He’s wearing a white linen suit she’s never seen before, and he’s supposed to be dead. Grief-stricken and baffled, Clare tails Richard, a horror film scholar, through the newly tourist-filled streets of Havana, clocking his every move. As the distinction between reality and fantasy blurs, Clare finds grounding in memories of her childhood in Florida and of her marriage to Richard.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Immersive reading of a terrific novel

  • By LWS on 12-24-18

Cuban, Kahloan Phantasmagorical Folktale

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

Reviewed: 01-13-19

This phantasmagorical folktale set in Havana--that brings to mind the scariest Frida Kahlo self-portrait, call it a nightmare in unibrow--serves chiefly as aspirant for *Hell's grim Tyrant,* Death.

Last year, I read too many novels such as this one, that seem to be trafficking in nightmares (the writer's).

From this experience, I learned that sleep is way too valuable to pay for its pollution.

  • Warlight

  • A Novel
  • By: Michael Ondaatje
  • Narrated by: Steve West
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 935
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 863
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 863

In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself - shadowed and luminous at once - we follow the story of 14-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Instant favorite

  • By R. Hughes on 06-10-18

Masterful Memory Art Piece

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

Reviewed: 01-13-19

Ondaatje is a master craftsman in memory art. Listening to this novel was for me much like standing, mouth agape, in awe, of a master painter's gallery exhibit, art so elegant in its realism and impressions, on canvas, collages, in stills of photos, all in different shapes and sizes, and in shades of warlight (the term used for the sparest possible illumination during London's defensive blackouts).

With writing so deep in detail and emotional complexity, the novel evokes a war-battered London of 1945, a mother and son, spies, blooming love, loss, secrets and, ultimately, the pursuit of answers and the discovery of self-revelations. To read Warlight is heartrending for, among other things, its inimitable demonstration of how a child is damaged severely once and again from abandonment by his parents, first the pain and loss and feeling of unworthiness caused by the loss and then a lifetime of lost chances at love and commitment due to the walls he erects against attachment and emotions to safeguard his fears of further abandonment.

  • There There

  • A Novel
  • By: Tommy Orange
  • Narrated by: Darrell Dennis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Alma Ceurvo, and others
  • Length: 8 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,547
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,398

Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle's death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle's memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and will perform in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A gorgeous, white-hot debut

  • By Kat - Audible on 06-12-18

Soul-wrecking Symphony of Twelve Native Americans

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

Reviewed: 01-13-19

A soul-wrecking symphony of 12 Native Americans pulled together by an upcoming powwow in Oakland, CA, and played with eloquence and bravado in first, second and third person narratives; sounding the repercussions, and showing the deracination, of America's indigenous people caused by this country's history of maltreatment and debasement of them.

The novel progressively accelerates the speed of its beats and gradually increases the volume toward a spectacular, eruptive finale that pummeled me with stark, incendiary truths about the history of our Native Americans, of the harm done to them by a history of oppression by this nation and the damage inflicted from within their tribes, both of which are perfectly personified in the violent, amoral character Tony Loneman, whose facial features and disabilities result from the fetal alcohol syndrome he suffers due to his mom's drinking during pregnancy.

I'm predicting that if Tommy Orange has in him 2 more social novels with the quality and impact of There There, he'll garner the Nobel Prize in Literature by 2050. He's that good and he's breaking ground on the social front.

  • In the Shadow of Statues

  • A White Southerner Confronts History
  • By: Mitch Landrieu
  • Narrated by: Mitch Landrieu
  • Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 337
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 313
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 315

When Mitch Landrieu addressed the people of New Orleans in May 2017 about his decision to take down four Confederate monuments, including the statue of Robert E. Lee, he struck a nerve nationally, and his speech has now been heard or seen by millions across the country. In his first book, Mayor Landrieu discusses his personal journey on race as well as the path he took to making the decision to remove the monuments, tackles the broader history of slavery, race and institutional inequities that still bedevil America, and traces his personal relationship to this history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Everyone should read this

  • By Carol Carlson on 03-23-18

Shows why pols need pro to help write in this form

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

Reviewed: 01-12-19

From the courageous former mayor of New Orleans who suffered scathing attacks and physical threats for removing the Confederate statues in the city, an admirable and frank memoir that is, unfortunately, quite uneven in the telling.

I wish he'd hired a professional to help him write it. It also lacked that deeper reflection I have read in the quasi-memoir, quasi-commentary form.

  • November Road

  • A Novel
  • By: Lou Berney
  • Narrated by: Johnathan McClain
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 231
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out. A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn - he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate - a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A new look at life after the JFK Assassination

  • By stuartjash on 10-10-18

High-stakes Thriller with Emotional Depth

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

Reviewed: 01-12-19

The protagonist becomes a "loose end" in a New Orleans mafia organization after he provides the getaway car to Pres. Kennedy's "real assassin" (also a loose end, who's quickly fried).

However you might at first try to pigeonhole this novel--as a cat-and-mouse, a falling-in-love-on-the-road or a criminal/conspiracy suspense novel--I can assure you, it defies simple categorization and is ultimately so much more. The novel's neck-whipping pace, its cast of wholly believable and complex characters, a brief magnetic and moving love affair and a really bad hombre' giving chase make this novel the rarest of commodities in my book: a high-stakes literary thriller with emotional depth that is difficult to put down.

  • All the Pieces Matter

  • The Inside Story of The Wire®
  • By: Jonathan Abrams
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Abrams, January LaVoy, Prentice Onayemi, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 304
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 280
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 277

Since its final episode aired in 2008, HBO's acclaimed crime drama The Wire has only become more popular and influential. The issues it tackled, from the failures of the drug war and criminal justice system to systemic bias in law enforcement and other social institutions, have become more urgent and central to the national conversation. But while there has been a great deal of critical analysis of the show and its themes, until now there has never been a definitive, behind-the-scenes take on how it came to be made.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • There's a reason you hire professional talent

  • By Shawnald on 02-13-18

*All in the game yo, all in the game.* Omar Little

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

Reviewed: 01-11-19


"All in the game yo, all in the game."
Omar Little, The Wire, HBO 2002-2008

Bar none, "The Wire" is the finest television series ever: in its realistic portrayal of crime, law enforcement and politics and in its excellent exploration of societal problems. This book shows how this 5-year series from HBO was the groundbreaker for the explosion of superb TV drama series in the past ten years.

This 2018 book is a fine-tuned and definitive oral history which provides an in-depth look into the making, the actors and directors, the story lines, and the fact that The Wire wasn't appreciated in full until a few years after its 5th and final year, 2008.

I was most fascinated by the screenwriting process and the varied impacts that writing, great and true, can make on conversation, art and society.

Reading this whetted my appetite for another viewing, nearly blinding in its brilliance.

  • The Hobbit

  • By: J. R. R. Tolkien
  • Narrated by: Rob Inglis
  • Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,451
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32,913
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33,130

Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Finally! Thank you Audible!

  • By Bryan J. Peterson on 10-20-12

Go Go Bilbo!

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18


A spectacular adventure in Middle Earth. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit--a small humanlike creature with furry feet--comes into possession of a magic ring that he uses to help the Wildlings defeat the Night King and the White Walkers.

Really good stuff.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Beware of Pity

  • By: Stefan Zweig
  • Narrated by: Nicholas Boulton
  • Length: 14 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40

In the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a young cavalry officer is invited to a dance at the home of a rich landowner. There - with a small act of attempted charity - he commits a simple faux pas. But from this seemingly insignificant blunder comes a tale of catastrophe arising from kindness and of honour poisoned by self-regard. Beware of Pity has all the intensity and the formidable sense of torment and of character of the very best of Zweig's work. Definitive translation by the award-winning Anthea Bell.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of my favorite authors

  • By Zaubermond on 03-21-18

Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn....

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

Reviewed: 07-01-18


'Pick up a bee from kindness, and learn the limitations of kindness.'
Sufi Proverb

Upon finishing this, Stefan Zweig's only completed novel, after having already read his memoir, The World of Yesterday, I've found that this Austrian author was one of those singularly gifted observers of the human condition, that come along maybe only once a generation, able to regularly discern the profound in the mundane as if such a talent came like riding a bicycle.

Beware of Pity sated my love for an exploration of human emotions I've not yet encountered in a story but have experienced in the real world. First was pity, and the negative that can flow therefrom. Second is the feeling of having someone in love with you at a time in youth when you want nothing to do with her/him.

Though I'd of course encountered the emotion of pity in other novels, none had made it a central theme and covered it like this novel did.

As for the second--see Zweig's brilliant quote below--I look back with deep regret at how mean and callous I was to the girl, and think how I'd have handled it differently. I'd not seen this fleshed out in a story from the viewpoint of the *unloving beloved* before this one.

The surface moral of this novel is laid out by its title: pity, as an emotion, can result in disaster. The deeper message seems the old maxim, you cannot judge a book by its cover. Hofmiller may wear the medal of the Military Order of Maria Theresa--the highest military decoration Austria could offer, equivalent to the Victoria Cross in Great Britain and the U.S.'s Medal of Honor--but he is plagued by his knowledge that his badge of 'courage' actually came from a colossal act of cowardice.

The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's popularity seems to be making a bit of a comeback, with the new publication of a number of his novellas and his memoir The World of Yesterday in which his writing shines. According to a number of sources, when this novel was published in 1939, Zweig was likely the most popular author in the world, for his short stories, novellas and biographies of famous people.

This was, again, the only novel he completed. He wrote it, as a Jewish refugee from Nazi persecution, in the U.S. (where he arrived in 1935) and then England (1938). He and his wife moved to Brazil in 1942 and shortly thereafter committed suicide together.

The story is set in Austria, mostly as it was on the brink of World War I. The tale is told though through a framing narrator (presumably Zweig) who meets the famously decorated cavalry lieutenant Anton Hofmiller at a social function. The narrator asks about the lieutenant's decoration as a hero of WW I, the Military Order of Maria Theresa, which Hofmiller disdains.

To explain why, he must take the narrator (and readers) back to the time he was invited to the castle of an immensely wealthy Hungarian named Lajos Kekesfalva. There, he asked the old man's crippled daughter to dance. A spoiled girl in her late teens, she throws a fit. Feeling pity for the girl, Hofmiller makes trips to see the Kekesfalvas nearly every day for an extended period. He is a man who gets nearly everything wrong: his gaffe that ultimately leads to awful consequences, believing Kekesfalva was a nobleman, and thinking the girl's doctor was incompetent, and leading the girl to believe she and he were engaged to be married only to deny it later in the evening, fearful of what his peers may think of him.



From BEWARE OF PITY, on the 'Torment' of Being "Loved Against Your Will

'a worse torment, perhaps, than feeling love and desire...is to be loved against your will, when you cannot defend yourself against the passion thrust upon you. It is worse to see someone beside herself, burning with the flames of desire, and stand by powerless, unable to find the strength to snatch her from the fire.

If you are unhappily in love yourself, you may sometimes be able to tame your passion because you are the author of your own unhappiness, not just its creature. If a lover can't control his passion then at least his suffering is his own fault. But there is nothing someone who is loved and does not love in return can do about it since it is beyond his own power to determine the extent and limits of that love and no willpower of his own can keep someone else from loving him.'

1 of 2 people found this review helpful