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Todd

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  • The Prague Cemetery

  • By: Umberto Eco
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 409
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 356
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 357

Whether it’s a critically acclaimed novel or provocative collection of essays, every work from best-selling author Umberto Eco is a highly anticipated publishing event. The Prague Cemetery is set amid conspiracy-rich 19th century Europe, where intrigue abounds—and where a lone, evil genius may be pulling all the strings.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Umbrage and Umberto; Peanut Butter and Jelly

  • By Mel on 12-07-11

Tour de Force Historical Fiction

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

Reviewed: 03-31-19

A quiet bravado pervades The Prague Cemetery. A deconstruction of the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most seminal pieces of anti-semitic propaganda in history, the story is nestled into an actual narrative of modern european political revolutions in France and Italy; republicanism's overthrow of religion and the ancien regimes.

All characters in the book are historical figures with the exception of the protagonist, whose opening paragraphs witness his own mental and moral dissolution. This foreshadows the thread of insanity which is a synecdoche for the global nihilism of organized racial hatred which his story, as a covert agent, forger of documents, and conspirator at large for various secret police agencies over decades, relates.

Reader Guidall perfectly captures the absurd perversion of the morally and psychologically shattered author/narrator. His is a marvelously nuanced and intelligently dynamic reading that will have you at turns guffawing and gasping at the horrifying ironies of history and state craft.

  • 1Q84

  • By: Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (translator), Philip Gabriel (translator)
  • Narrated by: Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, Mark Boyett
  • Length: 46 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 7,937
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,100
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 7,078

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 - "Q" is for "question mark". A world that bears a question....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've never read a book quite like this one

  • By Joey on 04-23-12

Murakami's Limp Hoax on the Literary Establishment

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

Reviewed: 01-11-19

The weaknesses have been widely criticized in all the major papers; lack of editorial discipline being the most oft mentioned failing. The book would have been fine at about half the size. There are constant meaningless repetitions of information, and meandering introspections that in 1960 might have held existential weight, but in this book are simply banal place holders for thought.

Even passages that are intended to provide the actual meat wind up being little more than Western name dropping. Here's a little Janacek (but when my story is resolved I've forgotten to mention what part the Janacek played in weaving a spell.) It's as if Murakami has given us the outline of a story that could have some weight, but it never even bothers with the vaguest connection to its namesake.

So... WTF? Unreliable narrator? But there are no clever twists. The plot and character development is entirely haphazard, and there are all kinds of holes in the narrative, and somewhere a third into the book it's like he suddenly says: "Oh. I'll turn this into a weird romance. That's the ticket." And the rest of the book is just insipid adolescent longing which is supposed to sustain the reader. It doesn't. Not to be a big spoiler, but it has about as much intellectual weight as Dean Koontz.

So the book itself is an embarrassment that almost plays like the hoax that animates the interior narrative.

The producers of the audio version, as they have done with Kafka on the Shore, and I don't know how many other of Murakami's books, have delivered another dubious anime-flavored quasi-radio dramatization, replete with directionless or misdirected readings and insipid female characterizations which woefully prejudice our already deeply concerned feelings about a totally unhinged developmentally arrested Japan.

The most glaring: these pseudo performances colliding with the translation's clipped anodyne play on the autistically mundane prose of Raymond Carver - a known favorite of the author's. Think of Jack Webb's flat affect as Joe Friday in Dragnet. But now you have a "good guy" gay ex-mob enforcer randomly ruminating about Karl Jung's house on the lake while he's in the midst of prepping an execution. There but for the grace of God go I? The victim has to be thinking, "Good lord. Kill me already." The scene, again, plays like a post-it note that was incorporated into the final draft because the author forgot to fill in the actual tragic qualities that impinge on being a reformed killer trying to do good, but still being stuck with the dirtiest of work.

The misguided performances are so distracting they destroy our ability to hear any of Murakami's voice through his translators.

  • Kafka on the Shore

  • By: Haruki Murakami
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett, Oliver Le Sueur
  • Length: 19 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,456
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,237
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,230

With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Love it!

  • By bleadof on 10-04-16

British Readers ?

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

Reviewed: 10-24-18

What is the deal with audible’s use of British narrators?

What is the purpose for a British reading of a story told by a youthful Japanese protagonist?

This is the second Murakami audible title that is marred by ridiculous distracting production decisions.

The Windup Bird Chronicle reading was a total disaster. Now they have again obscured the basic telling of the story with incoherent shifting readers and accents.

Please. It sucks. JUST STOP IT.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

  • A Novel
  • By: Haruki Murakami
  • Narrated by: Rupert Degas
  • Length: 26 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,094
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,833
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,834

In a Tokyo suburb, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat - and then for his wife as well - in a netherworld beneath the city’s placid surface. As these searches intersect, he encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful book, flawed narration.

  • By REBECCA on 02-08-14

Narration makes this almost unlistenable

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

Reviewed: 10-12-18

Horrible reading. You'll never want to listen to it again; never recommend it to a friend.

This is one of the great metaphysical novels of the late 20th Century and Mr. Degas reads the characters in a bizarre mix of overheated burlesque crossed with1940's radio melodrama crossed with anime read to a kindergarten class.

His caricature of female character voices, in particular - delivered in a laughable timbre and anime-like cadence - is hugely distracting, anti-naturalistic, and one can only wonder what the hell the producers are thinking.

Reading every passage with a kind of curt vexation, Degas' affected emoting vandalizes Murakami's words; the arch, narcissistic percussion of his delivery is so self indulgent, as to betray a total lack of comprehension of what he's reading. In this way the performance destroys the listening experience. But again, the producers are as responsible for this as he is.

Very unfortunate. I would urge the Audible team to make a substantive review of how they treat literary fiction. It requires a neutral reading that preserves the language, and the possibility of a gestalt taking shape between the listener and reader; not this preposterous brand of radio dramatics.

I doubt Degas has ever listened to an Eric Dolphy record.

  • Leonardo da Vinci

  • By: Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Alfred Molina
  • Length: 17 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,600
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,850
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,800

Leonardo da Vinci created the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and engineering. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wish the sample was not from the preface!

  • By Kristopher S. on 11-13-17

Keep the Brit Readers for British Stories

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

Reviewed: 09-12-18

Why must art histories be presented in the queens english? Huge cliche. It’s bad enough the otherwise great biographer Isaacson has decided to go all swoonsome with Leonardo.

Molina, as much as I like him as an actor, feeds into this with unctuous passages delivered in breathless rapture - fawning over the artist genius. Very like nouveau riche art collectors.

We really don’t need more of this over cliched overwrought romanticization of art.

And we don’t need this pathological fetishistic anglicization of western culture.

Should’ve gotten Robert Deniro to do this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Letters to a Young Contrarian

  • By: Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by: James Adams
  • Length: 3 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 921
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 734
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 730

In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Something I'll listen to again

  • By Mark on 05-03-11

Adams' stilted "British" reading misreads Hitchens

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

Reviewed: 02-27-16

We love Hitchens for his erudition, but he's an intellectual rock star by way of his wilting oratorical pugilism.

So a vocal performance of Hitchens' memoir poses a special challenge of interpretation.

Sadly, to admire Adams for his effete, rather shallow aristocratic impression of Christopher would be to lend too much to Chris's bravura hauteur at the expense of his ideas.

Phony smarty-pants emoting betrays prose; apes the tone; while glaringly failing to convey comprehension of the material.

Sloppy.

Audible needs to find people who know about the authors; know what they're actually reading about. Otherwise it's like watching community theatre: cheep incompetent nauseating corruption.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Wise Men

  • Six Friends and the World They Made
  • By: Evan Thomas, Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Reese
  • Length: 33 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 167
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 145
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 146

Six close friends shaped the role their country would play in the dangerous years following World War II. They were the original best and brightest, whose towering intellects, outsize personalities, and dramatic actions would bring order to the postwar chaos, and whose strong response to Soviet expansionism would leave a legacy that dominates American policy to this day. In April 1945, they converged to advise an untutored new president, Harry Truman.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it, a must read!

  • By Gutenberg on 03-12-15

Excellent text marred by robotic interpretation.

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

Reviewed: 02-27-16

A milestone for both the authors and the public.

Reese's reading is dull and stiff, and while almost 1960's straight white-guy-anachronistic, his perfectly modulated enunciation often sounds inhuman - like a text/voice synthesizer.

Numerous very odd mispronunciations.

For example, pejorative, which Reese pronounces PEEjurative ?!

It's p'JORative.

Detracts terribly from the experience. Please do this again with a reader who knows English.