Quiet, gentle, and slow, this audiobook read by Garrison Keillor himself is a jewel. If you liked the movie A Prairie Home Companion at all, you mightQuiet, gentle, and slow, this audiobook read by Garrison Keillor himself is a jewel. If you liked the movie A Prairie Home Companion at all, you might just like this novel as well. Short stories about Keillor's life in a very small town near Lake Wobegone, they are sweet and short themselves. The perfect thing to listen to as you crochet, with your feet up, after a long day's work. It's very much like listening to your grandparents talk about "the Good Old Days".
Baltimore Blues, a Tess Monaghan mystery, by Laura Lippmann Narrated by Debra Hazelette Audiobook by Blackstone audio, 2006.
Not a bad novel. (I could hBaltimore Blues, a Tess Monaghan mystery, by Laura Lippmann Narrated by Debra Hazelette Audiobook by Blackstone audio, 2006.
Not a bad novel. (I could have sworn I'd read this novel about 10 years ago, more or less; but while listening to it these past two days, not a single detail was familiar. So either I'm mistaken, or I've read SO many books since then, I have zero recall now. I think I will vote for the mistaken choice.)
The narration was good, enough to keep my thoughts from drifting off to other things. A little outdated, but I prefer this. The author's prior experience as reporter for 20 years really shows in all her detail, and knowledge of his things work, and what reporters are like, how they think. I loved that.
3 1/2 stars, and maybe I will read more of this series....more
I am delighted to report that '14' by Peter Clines doesn't play by any fucking rule book whatsoever. It's a horror/sci-fi/fantasy/mystery, an episode I am delighted to report that '14' by Peter Clines doesn't play by any fucking rule book whatsoever. It's a horror/sci-fi/fantasy/mystery, an episode of Friends mixed with the TV show Lost, all rolled up into one. It should be a bloody, confused mess, but IT ISN'T. Once it really gets going, this book is a celebration of weird and wacky, finding the fun and the supremely creepy all in one place.
Almost instantly becoming one of my favorites, Peter Clines' "14" is a near-flawless with human characters as richly portrayed as the book's strongest presence, the building itself. What begins as a self-referenced Scooby Doo hunt for clues into the apartment building's eccentricities soon becomes a treasury of mind-bogging concepts of time/history, space/location, and insider/outsider. Reality is challenged and rocked to its foundation. The less known going in, the better, but there are few authors that can tie references to/from The Matrix, Star Trek, Fringe, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Star Wars, HP Lovecraft, Nikolai Tesla, Ghostbusters, and Lost into one cohesive book!
In reference to others comparing this to, and mentioning "Lost", it's worth noting unlike that promising TV series that was crushed beneath the weight of its lack of focus and forethought, "14" delivers a fulfilling and contextually sensible conclusion that leaves very few narrative stones unturned. A lot of the fun here is in carrying on an internal dialogue with the characters as they discuss the myriad explanations for the madness surrounding them.
And it TAKES ITS TIME. Oh, how I love it when a writer can give me some literary foreplay I can work with. Clines lays on the mystery quite thick in the early stages. There's something going on, with lots of hints and just enough reveals to keep us interested and reading on with bated breath. But for a long, long, time Clines keeps the mystery unsolved. The stakes get higher and higher. And the reveal -- while a creaky house of cards and not built of perfection -- is supremely shocking and satisfying. At least it was for me.
This book had me glued to its pages from the very beginning, while reading a sample of it at Amazon.com. I just finished it now, and I am tickled to death by it. I think I may press a few friends and family members into reading it as well. GO READ THIS BOOK...! 5 stars, well deserved....more
This is a fantastic series. The novel Brimstone is a set within a series, called the Diogenes Series. Preston and Childs have really upped their gameThis is a fantastic series. The novel Brimstone is a set within a series, called the Diogenes Series. Preston and Childs have really upped their game with this novel, and the entire thing literally had me spell-bound.
I listened to the audiobook version of this novel by Books On Tape, available at your local Wilbor.com page. The narrator, Scott Brick, was absolutely superb in his many renditions and inflections. This is a semi-large cast, and not one voice sounded like the other, male or female. American or Italian. I don't care that Count Fosco was literally borrowed (or, ripped?) from the pages of Collin Wilkie's novel Moonstone, I thought he was a very well-rounded, self-actualized character, and I enjoyed every scene with him in it. (!!!!). The story had me guessing, from one chapter to the next, what on earth could possibly show up next.
HOW is it possible that these authors were able to link together two subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and still make sense...??!? (Not only make sense, but wow, what a storyline...!). The real Stradivarius violin in danger of being ruined, could not possibly link to someone pretending to be Lucifer, while killing people in a very violent and gory way, and come out comprehensible....but Preston and Childs did this. And they did it amazingly well. This ability makes you want to rush out and purchase the three books in the Diogenes series, just so you can read straight through! I had the hardest time getting through every-day life, so I can get back to this story, and see what happens next. The murder weapon was straight out of sci-fi novels.
In their first two novels together, "Relic" and "Reliquary", authors Preston and Childs created two very memorable characters; Special Agent Pendergast & Lt. D'Agosta. While the books not involving these characters have been good, "Brimstone", which reunites them for the first time since "Reliquary", is the best book they have ever written and is certainly one of the best thriller/mysteries out there today.
Easily better researched and written than other mystery novels, "Brimstone" deals with several bizzare, suppernatural seeming deaths in New York. D'Agosta is back, now an angry Sergeant working in Southampton. Pendergast, who is quickly becoming a bit of a modern day Sherlock Holmes, is attracted to the odd aspects of the killings, as he usually is, but his character and past are fleshed out in ways that will delight long time readers. I dare not spoil them. Pendergast has evolved over the years. The stand alone novel "Still Life With Crows" proved Pendergast could stand by himself. Now, on a much bigger case with a larger canvas, "Brimstone" will aternate make you laugh, or creep you out. It reads as fast as anything that's come out lately, and is far smarter than your average mystery.
"Brimstone" will be a delight for all Preston/Child fans, hopefully the book that puts them firmly on the map for all mystery readers. I believe that even a casual reader can appreciate it's scare factor, the excellent characterization, and the respect the authors show for their readers and their protaganists. "Brimstone" sets not just a high mark for them, but all thrillers to come.
I had previously read "Deeper than the Dead" and "Secrets of the Grave" by Tami Hoag, and liked them both though thDown the Darkest Road, by Tami Hoag
I had previously read "Deeper than the Dead" and "Secrets of the Grave" by Tami Hoag, and liked them both though their endings somewhat stretched my imagination... "Down the Darkest Road" was another entertaining if gloomy mystery. I admit I never knew for certain if the alleged guilty party was guilty or not, there was just that element of doubt, of uncertainty - what if the mother had decided the wrong man was guilty of her daughter's abduction? It wouldn't have been the first time the wrong man was convicted. It kept me guessing until the end and I admired the author for being able to throw that element of doubt in her narrative.
Mostly, I felt the rawness of Lauren's emotions, the heart-wrenching pain of a woman incapable of letting go, to the detriment of her one remaining living daughter. It was both hard and easy to relate to Lauren; hard as we, the readers, from a detached standpoint, could observe the waste of her life and the pain she unwillingly inflicted to her younger daughter, Leah, by not being there for her; and easy because I could so easily imagine myself in her place. Would I let go if my daughter disappeared? Could I let go? It's easy for people to say, it's time to let go, you must go on with your life, think of your other daughter. It's easy when it's not happening to you. What a living hell it would be to imagine that the man who took your daughter and did God knows what to her is living, breathing, enjoying life and possibly praying on other young women. And to know that you can't do anything about it.
About Tami Hoag, she knows her stuff and the power of raw emotions. For all that, there was a little too much rehashing of Lauren's feelings throughout the novel, we got the point early on, half way through the book the commiseration was full blast and I was ready for more action and less inner turmoil. Still, on the whole, a decently paced thriller well worth your time.
A quiet, but interesting story, about a crippled young man who has somehow made his living following around an The Disappearance Boy, by Neil Bartlett
A quiet, but interesting story, about a crippled young man who has somehow made his living following around an aging and morally destitute magician, as his backstage hand, and assistance; but never to be allowed on the stage. A wonderful young girl suddenly comes into their lives, and is hired to be the magician's onstage assistant and offstage lover, and their lives are not the same, ever again.
A bit slow at the start, as the narrator describes how life is like for the people in the novel, and how their work is done. I found it quite interesting, actually. I had no idea just how difficult some magicians work could be, especially with large cabinets that make the lady assistants disappear. Or, Reggie's entire job, for that matter. (Did all magicians have a Reggie? I hope so!)
As the storyline continues, it really keeps you guessing until the reveal. The carefully drawn characters are full of nuance, and they're - for the most part - lovable and true to this time. It was quite depressing for a few chapters, when the characters you have come to love seem doomed, in their tragic lives, for their stupid decisions.
But the author was very good at his research of this era. The meticulous attention to details of a famous day, and place was a real treat. So it seemed that in this particular story, there was stage magic, and real magic. There was loss, there was love - of many different kinds - and there was acceptance.
There also is a quite satisfying and surprising ending, which I will count as "happy". And in the end, I found it a touching and tender triumphant; of spirit, of love, and all else.
Great job from the author. 4 stars, for keeping me reading, when other novels would have bored me to tears, somewhere in the middle....more
While this was not a bad book, it was somewhat unenjoyable to read, IMHO. I really can’t bring myself to rate it above two stars, for these reasons:
ThWhile this was not a bad book, it was somewhat unenjoyable to read, IMHO. I really can’t bring myself to rate it above two stars, for these reasons:
The early chapters based in WWI French front were interesting, the descriptions of the conditions were enjoyable enough to keep going through, and I enjoyed this part. The main character, made intriguing by her amnesia and the ‘shell shock’ made for an interesting focus to view the situation from. In retrospect I think that even at this early stage I could have done with more detail about the war and fleshing out of the historical context, however it was still interesting reading even if it was a bit ‘WWI-Lite’.
The slightly later chapters which dealt in more detail with Stella's amnesia, the condition then known as shell shock, and the ‘new treatment’ were also vaguely interesting...... I guess. I really tried to enjoy the use of her drawing and artwork throughout the story, but in this section it wasn't that effective. More details of the era and the situation would have been nice, and I found that this part of the book felt it was quite placid, and somewhat boring, rather than the thrilling one it could have been if the war had featured more strongly.
The latter part of the book when ‘Stella Bain’s’ memory comes back and we transition to America was... well, I can only say that I found it exceptionally tedious. The court 'drama' dragged on and on, and I found myself completely uninterested in it, whether Stella/etna would get her kids back, and I didn't really care. I gave up about 16 chapters of the audiobook, with ten left to go. I cannot stay awake if I keep listening to this, and I find I don't really want to.
I am quite disappointed in this novel. I really love a good historical fiction novel, especially set in the past (whether near or far). I felt that this novel entirely missed its mark. What could have been a great historical fiction novel about WW2, was reduced to a custody battle between an abusive husband and a woman with a lot of health issues. If I had wanted to relive this, I would get out my diaries and reread that mess. And the whole time I'm writing this, I am left with a faint sensation of 'glad to be finished'.
Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, by Geraldine Brooks
There's a lot to like about Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. BasedYear of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, by Geraldine Brooks
There's a lot to like about Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. Based on a true story, this historical novel weaves a fabulous and heartwarming tale about how one small town in Derbyshire dealt with the plague. At its best, this novel is an evocative, well-written historical fiction that skillfully conjures up the day-to-day hardships of living in a small village overrun by plague and watching two-thirds of your friends, family, and acquaintances die horrible deaths. At its worst, there are some tiny, nit-picky things.
Year of Wonders begins with a bang, letting the reader know that a catastrophe has befallen the inhabitants of a small mountain village in England. Seen through the eyes of Anna Frith, a young widow who serves the village's minister's house, we witness the horror and death sweeping through the area during the year of the plague. Anna Frith is a strong woman and something of a role model; the plague brings out resources in her that she didn't know she had. They find themselves battling not only this dreaded disease, but also superstition, greed, and even murder. And despite their own tragedies, they discover that their efforts make them stronger and that they have more courage than they thought possible. I really liked the focus on the diurnal struggles of a village increasingly depleted of its human resources. What do you do when the women who always prepared herbal remedies are dead? When young children are left parentless?
Brooks writes this story with an elegant, yet powerful touch. The details of village life and the real effects of the plague are tangible and stunning. This is literally a film played out on the page, with scene after scene so richly written that the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred. As the seasons pass, Brooks expresses the fear, anger and eventually, numbed grief turning to hope (some of it warped) of the village and Anna. The plague itself is written almost as a character; it lives and breathes and there are many times when I found myself holding my breath, wondering what was going to happen, next.
Anna is splendidly written, a mix of feminism and the Puritan values of the time. From the beginning, you know she's destined for more than working the fields or washing dishes. While it would have been easy to turn Anna into some kind of saint, Brooks does a wonderful job of showing Anna's flaws without making them larger than the story itself.
There is also a surprisingly misogynistic passage from a previously likable character in these final pages which really turned me off and seemed entirely inconsistent with everything we've learned about this character up until this point. the character of Michael Mompellion is compelling and strongly written, but at the end of the story, I was shocked by some of the revelations about him. I kept wondering if they were completely believable, or if it was just me.
The one area (and it's a small one) where I felt this story seemed implausible was the final chapter. Maybe I was missing something, but given the year and the role women played in society, I found where Anna ended up to be a little bit too pat. (I cannot say anything else without giving out spoilers). Maybe it could and did happen, but compared to the tone of the book before it, it was odd. I *did* think that she ended up with the life she deserved, but the way it was written needed a little more suspension of belief.
This was an amazing book, one I will definitely read again and recommend to my family and friends. When I finished it, the one thing that surprised me the most was that the book was only just over 300 pages - this reads like a huge, epic story. I was literally spell-bound, and finding myself reading until 4 am the first night, because I literally could not put this book down. this is not just a story about disease and death, but also a moving tale about survival, passion, compassion and unlikely heroes.
Brooks' writing is truly elegant, and Anna's thoughts and words are written in the lyrical but simple cadence of the 1660's. (Complete with many archaic words that are no longer used...most of which I had to look up...! Which by the way, I love.). There is also much historical research including not only the plague itself, but also of the living conditions in a small English village during the 17th Century. With this much detail, research, and talent going for her, I will definitely be reading more of this talented author.
5 huge stars. (***The audiobook is read by the author, Geraldine Brooks...!!)
"God warns us not to love any earthly thing above Himself, and yet He sets in a mother’s heart such a fierce passion for her babes that I do not comprehend how He can test us so."
"I knew how easy it is for widow to be turned witch in the common mind, and the first cause generally is that she meddles somehow in medicinals."
"I told myself I was crying for the waste of it; that those fingers that had acquired so much skill would never fashion another lovely thing. In truth, I think I was crying for a different kind of waste; wondering why I had waited until so near this death to feel the touch of those hands."
"There are some who deem this mountainside bleak country, and I can see how it might seem so: the land all chewed up by the miners, their stowes like scaffolds upon the moors, and their bings like weedy molehills interrupting the pale mauve tide of the heather."
"He instructed me how futile it is to wallow in regret for that which cannot be changed and how atonement might be made for even the gravest sins."
"By gathering and sorting my own feelings so, I was finally able to fashion a scale on which I could weigh my father’s nature and find a balance between my disgust for him and an understanding of him; my guilt in the matter of his death against the debt he owed me for the manner of my life. At the finish of it, I felt free of him, and I was able to think calmly once more."
Every year at Passover, Jews around the world gather for a festive meal at which they are commanded to retell the epochal story of the Exodus from EgyEvery year at Passover, Jews around the world gather for a festive meal at which they are commanded to retell the epochal story of the Exodus from Egypt. The text for that retelling is known as the "Haggadah." Today, it is estimated that there are more than 3,000 versions of this book, a compendium of biblical excerpts, rabbinic commentary, stories and poems.
In her emotionally resonant new novel, Geraldine Brooks spins an intricate and moving tale of a Haggadah, and its stirring, almost miraculous story of survival. People of the Book is a work of fiction inspired by the true story of the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah.
This chapter contains some very interesting and real facts about the REAL Sarajevo Haggadah. Some people may find this boring, or annoying. I found it all terribly fascinating. If you don't care about this, please skip this chapter. "While some of the facts are true to the S. H.'s known history, most of the plot and all of the characters are imaginary. In real life, only after the war was it revealed that a Muslim librarian, Enver Imamovic, had rescued the codex during the shelling and hidden it for safekeeping in a bank vault. While these heroic rescues were my initial inspirations, the characters to whom I have ascribed these actions in the novel are entirely fictional. Also, the novel’s chapters “A White Hair” and “Saltwater” are entirely fictional. However, there is a saffron- robed, black- skinned woman at the seder table in one of the S. H.'s illuminations, and the mystery of her identity inspired my inventions. (!!!). By 1609, the haggadah had found its way to Venice, where the handwritten inscription by a (real-life) Catholic priest named Vistorini apparently saved it from the book burnings of the pope’s Inquisition. Nothing is known of Vistorini beyond the books that have survived because they bear his signature. But many of the Catholic Hebraists of the period were converted Jews, and I used that fact in “Wine Stains.” In that chapter, also, the character of Judah Aryeh is inspired by the life of Leon Modena as described in 'The Autobiography of a Seventeenth Century Rabbi , translated and edited by Mark R. Cohen. Richard Zacks provided an invaluable collection of materials on gambling in seventeenth- century Venice. Because Bosnia was under occupation by the Austro- Hungarian empire when the haggadah came to light there in 1894, it was natural that it should be sent to Vienna, hub of culture and scholarship, for study and restoration. For the atmosphere in the city at that time, and especially for details such as the unctuous manners of telephone operators, I am in debt to the remarkable narrative history 'A Nervous Splendour' by Frederic Morton. Similarly, Brian Hall’s 'The Dreamers' and 'The Impossible Country' provided indispensable insights. While it is true that, by modern standards, the rebinding of the haggadah was mishandled in Vienna, the matter of the missing clasps is a novelist’s invention."
The true story of the haggadah's narrow escapes from destruction, chronicled in a December 3, 2007 New Yorker article by Brooks (featuring a color reproduction of one of the haggadah's striking illustrations), is so fantastic it seems almost impossible to fictionalize it. But what Brooks does so convincingly is what empathetic historical novelists do best --- offer us rich insights into the interior lives of both real and fictional characters that reveal the human drama behind a fact-based story. As one of the book's characters reminds us, "a book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand."
Brooks's recreation of five historical epochs --- Sarajevo in 1940, Vienna in 1894, Venice in 1609 and Spain in 1492 and 1480 --- is so rich with period detail, lavishly and yet effectively displayed, that one stands in awe of the thoroughness of her research. (I did, and often..!). In each era the existence of the haggadah is threatened. Most dramatic, and most grounded in historical fact, is the story of how the book - only moments away from almost certain destruction by the Nazis - was hidden by the chief librarian of the Bosnian National Museum and then stored for the balance of World War II among Korans and other Muslim religious books in a remote mosque.
The chapter recounting the haggadah's jeopardy in early 17th century Venice is almost as heart-stopping. There, Giovanni Domenic Vistorini, the censor of the Inquisitor whose job it was to consign heretical works to the bonfire, sits with his pen poised above the parchment before deciding to spare it from the flames. All of the novel's historical sections are so packed with vivid detail and complex characters - princes, rabbis, artists, scribes and bookbinders - that each time the narrative returns to its contemporary setting we're eager to be transported back in time and, once there, find ourselves longing to linger.
What also sets this novel apart from more conventional works of historical fiction are the sophisticated themes that suffuse the narrative: the persistence of religious persecution, issues of religious and personal identity, and the close relationship between Muslims and Jews among the most prominent. Those ties may seem particularly startling to those familiar only with the Middle East conflict, and offer perhaps a glimmer of hope that someday they can be revived.
The contemporary narrative does not suffer in comparison to the historical segments, as some here at G.r. may think. Some here have also stated that there is a "melodramatic" subplot describing the fractured relationship between Hanna and her mother Sarah, an eminent but emotionally distant neurosurgeon, from whom Hanna ultimately learns a jealously guarded family secret. I thought it added to the storyline quite well, and I completely understood Hanna's relationship with her mother. Hanna's love affair with Ozren Karaman, the Bosnian librarian was also a very nice addition to the storyline. The ending was a brilliant piece of misdirection.
Geraldine Brooks most likely had herself in mind when Hanna observes, "By linking research and imagination, sometimes I can think myself into the heads of the people who made the book. I can figure out who they were, or how they worked. That's how I add my few grains to the sandbox of human knowledge." In PEOPLE OF THE BOOK she continues to raise the bar for practitioners of this literary genre.
This novel was truly brilliant. You do not need a surfeit of knowledge about Jewish culture or practices, in order to enjoy this novel. You do not need to have attended a religious festival to understand their importance and meaning. (But if you can, please do, if just for observance' sake. They are quite beautiful). You don't even need to have a tremendous knowledge of the wars between the factions that are in conflict, during the setting of this novel.
I, on the other hand, need to read more novels by Geraldine Brooks. 5 full stars for this breathtaking novel that had me spell-bound. Truly fascinating. Please give it a try. You might fall in love with it, as I have....more
I thought this book would be more interesting. Or at least a little more like the movies with Myrna Loy and William P
The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett
I thought this book would be more interesting. Or at least a little more like the movies with Myrna Loy and William Powell. (I LOVE those movies..!)
I listened to the complete and unabridged audiobook from the local library. It had William Dufris reading all the parts, and he was not bad, even with a rather large cast of characters. But the story took a very long time to get through. And even though there were plenty of twisty-turney-plot things going on, I had a difficult time trying to get through this audiobook. It seemed rather uneventful, even though I had no idea what was going on sometimes. I wish I could pinpoint my displeasure in this novel, but I am still unsure. And also, I am not sure if I even want to read, or listen to the second novel in this series, Return of the Thin Man. The characters were not very interesting, even though some of them were practically crazy. The only time I raised my eyebrows was when a racist remark was made - which was common for the time I guess...? (The n-word, and another remark, I believe against Slavic people.). I had a difficult time connecting to anyone, for any reason. So mainly, there was too much slang for me, way WAY too much drinking for me, and not enough laughs. (Who the hell gets up for breakfast and orders a whiskey and soda, fer jimminy's sake...?). The witty repartee that made the Powell/Loy movies such a success were rather lackluster here, and this book's give-and-take that was between the husband and wife, didn't seem to cement in my mind that it was basically the roadmap for all other husband-and-wife detective teams, from then on. Nora was basically at home taking care of the dog, and sometimes another female character. What a waste.
3 stars for this seemingly bland novel about some murders. I was very happy to finally get through it all....more
This book was quite thrilling, for all its faults. And there are few, don't worry. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, Coben came up with aThis book was quite thrilling, for all its faults. And there are few, don't worry. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, Coben came up with another twist to make me question my theories or spin them into nothing but complete chaos. The man is absolutely genius when it comes to thinking up plot twists and turns to keeping the reader second-guessing. I stayed up way too late, trying to speed read through the novel, so I could figure who was what, and how. I love that. (Not the sleep deprivation, but the immersion into the novel that interesting that you just can't seem to leave...no matter how exhausted you are). I had no clue as to what was going to happen next. Who doesn't love this...?
Gone For Good is a fast paced thriller with somewhere around 3 dozen plot twists and turns. Typical of the genre, it is plot rather than character driven. Even the best characters are a bit shallow, and you will have to accept some improbable ones. Dialogue is written well. Otherwise, the writing is simple. The story is fast paced not just because the author uses cliff hanging chapter endings and plot twists. He dribbles out information.
This is a four star read in the thriller genre, at least. The reviewers who did not like this novel, in general, dislike violent thrillers without well developed characters. A few who do read thrillers found the plot too much like some of Coben's first thrillers. After being bored near-to-death by my previous library book, I was loving this one, even with its over-the-top-ness.
As for its faults, there was this; as I read Gone For Good, I wanted to feel the relationship between Will and Sheila, but it wasn't there, and I was slightly disappointed. But this novel speeds along at such a blindingly fast pace, you might barely notice this. And as I read the startling ending of Gone For Good it seemed too far over the top, but when I got to the one page epilogue, I smiled, and was satisfied. ...more
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, by R. A. Heinlein
Lord, I thought this novel would never get over....! I suspect I made a mistake in actually listeninThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls, by R. A. Heinlein
Lord, I thought this novel would never get over....! I suspect I made a mistake in actually listening to this book in isolation. I had Blackstone Audio's version of audiobook, with Mr. Tom Weiner narrating it. (Unfortunately, he has narrated another page and a half audiobook's as well.). I chose it because it was available for download from my local library, not realizing it is part of a greater series. It does not stand well on it's own. I'm not sure it would stand well in conjunction with it's series either though, I found some major issues with it.
The first is the main voice. There were way, way too many characters in this novel, to be taken care of by just one voice actor. His women all sounded rather the same, except for Hazel/Gwen/Lipschits. And everyone else just kind of melted in together, sometimes. It was confusing.
This book starts out engagingly enough, with a mystery on a moon-orbiting space habitat. As can be expected from Heinlein, there is passing commentary on the governement of the habitat, all privately owned and controlled. When the action passes to the Moon we discover that this story is more commentary about how the government on the moon has changed in the 100 or so years since the revolution. James Bond style space adventure with witty banter and a clever female sidekick. Despite the sagacity of the girl (actually much older than we initially think), Heinlein has sprinkled weird sexist remarks about both men and women throughout the entire novel, which, now that I'm older, I see he does in ALL his novels, but it's still kind of grating. My problem may be at least partially due to the voice-actor reading the book, but I think it is also inherent in the character himself. I found Ames/Campbell so pretentious that he is unlikeable and never felt like he had a realistic human interaction, not even with himself.
Then there is the disjointed plot, which is unsatisfyingly patched together at the end with the Deus Ex Machina device of peripheral characters popping off through time and coming back with answers to all of the questions including some that were never asked. Reading this was like reading two different books - the first half consisting of fairly straight, middle-of-the-road space opera, and the second half going into one of Heinlein's mystical worlds. Once Lazarus Long enters the picture, the book rapidly degenerates into the usual confused 'World-Is-Myth' mishmash, with the obligatory long expository party scenes in which far too much is explained. I don't really enjoy that style as much anyway, but this was highly confusing, what with the various counts of incest, interbreeding, extended family lines and of course time-jumping.
And then that's where it turns just weird. Time travel, parallel dimensions, blah blah blah. And I'm a sci-fi fan. I don't mind that stuff. But it seemed random, unmotivated, and unjustified in the plot.
I felt a lot of the author's personality coming through, and that personality was more "grumpy old man" than anything else. A sexist, misogynistic, possibly racist, DIRTY, grumpy old man. Heinlein is known to have non-conventional ideas about marriage and relationships, but this was really pushing it. Spanking just doesn't need to be a major theme in a sci-fi novel. I'm NOT a prude, but seriously..... Now, mid-novel, we're in a world that was surely made up by a prepubescent teenage boy fantasizing about a place where people are allowed to walk around naked and have sex with anyone they want and marry multiple people. They greet each other by making out, with tongues. (Yes I know there are no more colds, flush or s.t.d.'s. So what.). Also, Stuff goes down that is unexplained and makes no sense even though these events appear to be major plot points. Characters also have unexplained emotional reactions to seemingly normal events. I seriously began to wonder if the book would ever make sense again. Another really odd thing: toward the end, a large, black, rage-filled character named Samuel Beaux is suddenly introduced as yet another two-dimensional foil. The pun (if that's what it is) is obvious: "Sam Beaux", "Sambo" - but Heinlein spells it out just to make it clear for the idiots in the crowd. He apparently felt that he nullified the implied racism by suddenly having Ames/Campbell turn out to be black himself, although there were absolutely no clues to indicate that anywhere prior to that point. In fact, Ames calls Beaux "Boy" in the process, which strikes a very false note indeed. I spent most of the story wondering who was who and who said what. It felt like I'd been dropped into the middle of a reunion for a family I'd never meant, tasked with picking out the few strands of relevant data from a sea of meaningless prattle. The whole book purportedly leads up to a profound event, but we're not let in on what happens with that event. Were they successful? Did their grand and utterly convoluted schemes pay off? Just what the hell was going on...? The Cat who walks through walls didn't even have the gall to show up until "book 3", chapter 26....! What the hell? The cat was the most interesting character...! Then, literally in the last 5 pages, Heinlein suddenly decides to wrap things up so he has one character (badly) attempt to explain the entire rest of the book and then it ends. I have never been happier to see a book end without caring how. I just needed it to be over. 2 stars, because I was SO very bored. Untold times I wanted to quit, but I pushed through it. Boo..!...more
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a romantic comedy movie starring Audrey Hepburn that the Library of Congress has recently deemed “culturally, historically,
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a romantic comedy movie starring Audrey Hepburn that the Library of Congress has recently deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. It was a cheesy and mildly offensive (Mickey Rooney’s character) adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella of the same name. I recently had a chance to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s before rewatching the classic film and as I expected, it was another Hollywood butchering.
Like many readers, my first encounter with Breakfast At Tiffany's the book came after seeing the movie. The two have so much in common that it's difficult to separate them in my mind; the movie benefits from having Audrey Hepburn on the screen a lot in some nice costumes, but suffers from Blake Edwards' typical racial stereotyping, with its transformation of Mr Yunioshi into a bad joke. But then, Audrey was in the story when I read it, too, so closely did her portrayal match the written character. It's rather difficult to believe that Capote favoured Marilyn Monroe for the part (as he is reported to have done) -- Hepburn even looks like the character described in the story, while Monroe doesn't.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells the story of the unnamed narrator and Holly Golightly who are tenants in the same Upper East Side brownstone. The novella follows the narrator’s observations the life of this Manhattan café society girl. Holly has no job, but she survives by socialising with wealthy men who in turn give her money and expensive gifts.
Despite the similarities between the novel and the movie, there are some interesting differences too, which I won't list here, as discovering them will be part of the fun of the book for anyone who's seen the movie. It is a novella with many layers to it. Abandonment, loneliness, the need to belong and yet not be chained at the same time, the delight in the unorthodox and last but not the least about not loving a wild thing.
The story is of the narrator's relationship with his neighbour Holly Golightly, proceeding from glimpses on the stairs, to passing acquaintance, to volatile friendship, and finally to unrequited love, and loss. But the real subject of the book is the unfolding of Holly's character and past. The book comes alive when Holly is in the room; she is one of the great memorable characters of modern fiction, and most readers will probably fall in love with her a little
It is important to note that Holly Golightly is not a prostitute; this is a popular misconception that is in fact debunked in the novel. There is a conversation about three thirds of the way through this novella where Holly says she could never be a prostitute, she can’t separate love and sex. Even Truman Capote had to come out and say that she wasn’t a prostitute, saying in an interview that “[Holly] was the prototype of today’s liberated female and representative of a whole breed of girls who live off men but are not prostitutes. They’re our version of the geisha girl.”
It is hard not to compare Breakfast at Tiffany’s the novella with the movie, everyone has seen the movie but I wish the book was as celebrated for its brilliance. The movie has a focus on romance but that’s way off. What I found in the novel was friendship, isolation and on a very basic level hopes and dreams. There was an element of love in the novella but less traditional love, more of a focus on unrequited love (the wealthy men’s towards Holly) and love between friends.
I loved this novella and highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. Capote’s writing was incredible and I feel like I need to read more of his, In Cold Blood is obviously a priority now.
Also included in the edition I read (and most editions, so far as I can tell) are three short stories by Capote: 'House of Flowers', about a Haitian prostitute; 'A Diamond Guitar', set in a Southern prison; and 'A Christmas Memory', the narrator's (possibly Capote's own) reminiscences of a childhood friend. I wonder how many readers stop when they finish Breakfast? I hope not many. Mainly because on reading 'A Christmas Memory', I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes. Especially when little Buddy is sent off to the military school and his friend is left alone to prepare the christmas cakes all by herself. No where in literature can you find the definition of nostalgic memories so beautifully crafted as in the last two pages of the story.
As for Breakfast at Tiffany's - Holly Golightly is something else. In the end, you pity her because you know, that she will never find her idea of perfection- her "Tiffany's", anywhere in the world. The curse of the wandering soul has left her alone and lonely.
Brilliant. I can't say enough to recommend this brilliant book. Read it first, and then watch the movie. Though Peppard and Hepburn proved worthy actors, the soul of the book, the innocence and the stark realization of real life is not as clearly depicted as in the book.
Capote engages the reader's attention in each story. His language is simple, and the reader never becomes bored with the storylines. Even though the novel was written 50 years ago, the writing is still fresh, has great flow to it, and its timeless. Also, Capote's capacity for dialogue borders on genius. I loved it, and I think capote may become my new favorite. 5 stars....more