The American Dream is dead. It is a nation desperate for change, which might explain how a man like Lester Ginn - huckster, hypnotist, swordsman, self-proclaimed visionary - could rally support for his own grandiose notion of utopia...The Pyramid.
From the hardscrabble streets of Queens, New York to the semi-post-apocalyptic Glass Desert of Nevada, we ride Lester's ever-flapping coattails as he careens through time and space, ultimately lording over the world's largest man-made structure (The Pyramid), along with the boldest sociological experiment ever attempted.
Critics have called Therein Lies the Problem a dizzying kaleidoscope of characters and an absurdist juggernaut, for good reason. Dupont weaves a crazy quilt indeed, with many unexpected twists and turns - swordplay, gunplay, chimpanzees sailing pirate ships through the desert...Like a bullet train the narrative hurtles forward relentlessly, yet often affords its listeners lovely, tranquil, even heartrending vistas of a forlorn landscape scrolling by in the distance.
So buckle up and enjoy the ride - not only with Lester, but a motley cast of characters as quirky and complicated as they are lovable, all brought to life in a tour de force performance by narrator/actor Doug Thornton.
Okay, full disclosure here. I share a name with the author of the book because … well, I am the author of the book. But if politicians get to vote for themselves I figured I was entitled to leave myself a nice review. In all honesty and seriousness though, I will tell you this:
My expectations going into this project were great indeed, as I felt given its madcap protagonist Lester Ginn and motley supporting cast of characters, it lent it self quite well to a performance medium. In fact, I first wrote the story as a screenplay, as for a feature length film -- and a big budget one at that! Then, using that as a sort of outline, I fleshed out the entire novel, a process which took almost 10 years and nearly drove me insane.
Anyway, I was thrilled to find an immense talent like Doug Thornton to narrate the book, but when he started feeding me the produced chapters, I listened with great trepidation. Not because I was afraid Doug wouldn't do justice to the work, but because I was afraid the work wasn't really any good to begin with!
Well, thank God I my fears were quickly put to rest. The story came to life in a way I never could have imagined, in full technicolor, transcending the words I put down in black and white years ago. And yes, I did laugh. And yes, I did cry.
I think you will greatly enjoy this audiobook. Please give it a listen.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
This is one very entertaining book, great for my commute and also while doing mundane work around the house. Great story, great author give it a read.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Therein Lies the Problem to be better than the print version?
I'm sure the narrator added a lot to my enjoyment of the book.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Therein Lies the Problem?
Lester was making dinner for some lady... and acting completely erratic. The scene was complete chaos, and I really don't know what happened in it or its relevance to the story, but it was wonderfully performed by the narrator.
Have you listened to any of Douglas Thornton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, but hopefully this won't be the last. I intend to keep an eye on his work... an ear.
Who was the most memorable character of Therein Lies the Problem and why?
Lester, without question. The whole story revolved around him, and as obnoxious as he was, I couldn't help liking him. Lots of perfectly backwards logic and scatter-brained.
Any additional comments?
Herein Lies the Problem is a very intricate and deliberate book, and for that I will give it 4-stars as a story. I have to admit that I didn't quite catch everything, but the structure was configured in such a way that at times it's hard to follow. I want to listen one more time to see if some holes get filled in better the second time around. If I do, I may come back and change the score to 5, because what I did pick up on was insightful, touching, and imaginative. The characters are fantastic, their relationships are interesting, and it has a thought-provoking message.
The narration I will give a solid 4. Douglas Thornton was not only perfect for this role, his approach to audio book narration is refreshing. His accents are all excellent, and he has very pleasant energy. The only reason I can't give him a 5th star is because of his rhythm. At times he would rush through descriptions and lose me, and the space between paragraphs and dialogue was inconsistent. Other times his inflection seems a little off, as if he's coasting over the words. I think he needs to work on slowing down altogether and let the scenery soak into his listeners' heads. But, his characterizations are superb. He hardly ever messes up inflection during dialogue, and his characters sound unique and colorful. He also uses some subtle sound-effects that were handled tastefully, with an enhancing effect.
I'll be listening to this book again. It was more fun than most fiction audio books I've listened to, and although I don't see the narration or the story to be perfect on their own, I will again have to say that this audio book is greater than the sum of its parts. Well done, and I hope you two team up again in the future.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about this story?
At first I have to admit I was a little lost, but soon everything made more sense and it was really enjoyable.
Any additional comments?
The book was fun, light, the narration was well done. I drive a couple of hours a day and like to listen to books. This is one of those books i would listen to after a heavy book. So I am sure I will get many listens from this title.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This Audiobook was provided by the author at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.
Somewhere in a post-nuclear disaster Las-Vegas, an eccentric man named Lester builds the largest Pyramid ever, and names it... The Pyramid.
However, what sounds like the basis of a great story simply did not manage to hold my interest and attention as much as I had hoped.
The first issue is with the way the story is presented (something the author comments on himself at the book's beginning). Each chapter can take place anywhere in the timeline, and is usually told as if it is happening in the present. This means that whenever each chapter begins instead of immersing yourself in the story, you are attempting to place it within the timeline. In some cases this is instant, but in the first half of the book it is usually a major annoyance, and while the author states that this is the way our own mind works he seems to have forgotten that we are trying to enter someone else's mind here.
The protagonist, Lester is unlikable (and it seems like this was the author's intent), he comes out as delusional, frantic and borderline crazy. I simply could not empathize with him or his motives.
Other, more compelling characters (like Sandeep) end up just being filler or background noise, when they could have been much more involved.
The book kept much of its focus on the politics going on behind The Pyramid and its workers and not enough focus on life within it, while I had hoped for the reverse.
The humor was also lost on me and the ending felt extremely rushed.
The highlight of this Audiobook is the narrator. Douglas Thornton does his best putting much emotion and acting into it. Environmental sound effects are also mixed in which is something I personally enjoy.
To summarize - An OK story with so much more potential, marred by an odd storytelling technique but somewhat saved thanks to a great narrator.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes! This book has elements of both humor and serious thought, although the humor is carrying the latter.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
It was a fitting end. I enjoyed it!
What does Douglas Thornton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
In a way, I feel Douglas Thornton makes a lot of the jarring time shifts and perspective changes.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
There were a few. None that I can delve into without spoiling, but a lot of the character-building and growth moments in particular were satisfying.
Any additional comments?
I was given a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. To be quite honest, earlier in my listening/reading I was going to give a lower rating for the story, as I was quite baffled with the breakneck speed at which focus was changed. You get used to it though, and as mentioned above it gets easier to recognize the incongruent storylines converging. All in all it's a very fun story read by a very capable narrator and I definitely recommend it!
This tale revolves around The Pyramid, the ultimate utopian home (and social experiment writ large)! It mostly tracks a period of time in the lives of those responsible for the creation and continued existence of The Pyramid. Or an assortment of periods anyway.
There's a warning at the beginning of the book that the story will jump around a little. This is no exaggeration and we zig-zag forward and backward, sometimes years into the past with quite bewildering abruptness! We mostly follow the protagonist, Lester Ginn, with forays into various supporting characters point of view. These occasional diversion are mostly closely connected to the story with the exception of one the inhabitants whose history is related, but not with any well-defined narrative task or purpose that I could detect.
This is the overall impression I was left with actually. I did enjoy the book in general; the short chapters kept the story moving along and the antics of the characters kept me amused (the general farcical tone put me in mind of the work of Tom Sharpe actually) but I feel like perhaps I missed the point of it all. I finished and found myself wondering wherein, exactly, did the problem lie?
Douglas Thornton did a bang-up-job of uniquely identifying all of the characters (I did have a little trouble differentiating Lester and Tim in the beginning). There's also an interesting thread in /r/audiobooks (specifically, it's at https://www.reddit.com/r/audiobooks/comments/3vs0v3/do_audio_book_narrators_spend_time_with_the/cxqbu1e) from the author (/u/nutritionsteve) about the process of working with Mr Thornton to produce the audio version, very interesting! Which reminds me, I was given this book for free in exchange for a review.
My impression of this book is likely skewed by two elements that usually really annoy me about books. So if these things don't annoy you, you might like it more. Those things are
- present tense narration
- sound effects (especially where used inconsistently)
I find present tense is often really annoying, although it can be used at times to really great effect (usually to do with emphasising that this is happening now and the 'future' is unknown), but this book is not one of those times. The book jumps around a lot in time (and it is often hard to know at first when in the book timeline the events are happening) and even the events happening in the early part of the book timeline are told in present tense. We know what comes after them so the future-less-ness of present tense doesn't add anything at all to this. Occasionally it slips into past tense (like when telling the history of the monkeys) and those moments just sound so much better.
The sound effects are annoying but rarely used. In about 5 or 6 places across the entire audiobook there have been background noises (rain, crowds cheering) added in. The inclusion of these sound effects don't add anything to the book - as the narration talks about there being a storm and/or cheering crowds - and could have been done without. The thing is, other than this the narration and production is pretty great. Thornton provides a tonne of individual characters, often with different accents, and really performs the book. Emotion, comic timing etc. is all there. He's a really enjoyable narrator and brings the book to life.
If the key issues were removed this still wouldn't be a wonderful work, but it would be better.
So those two key issues out of the way, the rest of the story/writing is still somewhat a mixed bag. It was an enjoyable 10 hours of listening, but ultimately forgettable.
I really enjoyed the characters and the dialogue between them. Dupont writes absurd discussions that are amusing and keep the interest. There is some really hun absurd humour. So each little scene by itself is often entertaining. It is when we zoom out and look at hte story and the structure as a whole that it starts to fall down. While the individual scenes are interesting the overall story just doesn't grab. The time jumping book structure makes any character or story arcs harder to see. In the end I didn't care that much what was the fate of the Pyramid or of the characters.
The author (in his own review on audible) mentions that this book started as a screenplay for a film. It shows in places. There are elements that almost seem like stage directions rather than flowing parts of the story. An example would be that several times a line reads something like:
"blah blah blah," said Joe Bloggs. Joe has a English Accent.
rather than something that would flow better like:
"blah blah blah," said Joe Bloggs in his English accent.
There are other parts where every little movement is written down. "He take 3 steps. Lifts his left arm. steps again. Coughs and picks up a bottle. He drinks from the bottle. Turns around". It was just very stilted at times.
Other times if flowed really well though. So it's a little hit and miss.
In the end Dupont tried something different with the style (intentionally or not) with the stage direction sort of elements and the time hoping and everything else, but through all this style the substance of the main story was a little lost. The drive to know what happens next isn't there for me.
I'm a little torn on the story line because I would have a hard time explaining what it was about. But it kept me amused for hours as i commuted to and from work and I enjoyed the time spent together.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful