This book IS amazing, but that doesn't mean I loved it.
Nabokov is a word magician, and he has such imagination. His words and his imagination merge toThis book IS amazing, but that doesn't mean I loved it.
Nabokov is a word magician, and he has such imagination. His words and his imagination merge to become an object d'art filled with originality and humor, concluding in an amusing commentary on literary critique, which I totally support.
So why do I feel the book was merely OK?
Line after line of humor is hard to take. Do you sit and read a joke book? I don’t. Or maybe this book is better if read it in small portions, not as a novel but as a conglomeration of wonderfully expressed thoughts and great lines of satirical humor. Some of the lines ARE priceless. In a novel there should also be an engaging plot. So let’s look at this novel’s plot
There are two main characters. There is an author-poet, John Shade, and then there is Charles Kinbote. John has written a poem and Charles, on John's death, is editing and compiling notes on said poem. It is just that Charles has a different story to tell and he wants it told. His literary critique of the poem twists Shade’s work beyond recognition. Nabokov is known for his unreliable narrators. Clearly, Charles is here the unreliable narrator. Of course, neither John Shade nor Charles Kinbote ever existed. The author of both Shade's poem and Charles' commentary on the poem, which becomes a whole different story about Charles’ beloved kingdom Zembla, is none other than Nabokov!
My problem with the book is Charles’ story. His story is confused; his lines tedious. He is not a good story teller. The country and the events he is describing are imaginary. His imaginary country never became tantalizing. There is no real country with real traditions and customs and history to learn about. The numerous fictional characters and events became a jumble in my head. I couldn't have cared less about Charles’ story!
I thought when I began the book that I would have difficulty reading a poem, but that was no problem at all! Shade's poem is simple reading. You forget that it is even a poem. It reads as a story that just happens to rhyme. Unfortunately it comprises only a very small portion of the book.
The audiobook presentation is not difficult to follow. You do not have to switch back to the poem as you follow Charles' commentaries; as I explained, Charles has a different story to tell. The audiobook has two narrators, one for John Shade and his poem (Robert Blumenfeld) and another for Charles Kinbote(Marc Vietor). It is Marc Vietor who reads the larger part. Both narrators do their parts well; they further personify the respective character’s personality. The book ends with the reading of the index!!! I have never read an index from start to finish. Have you? Do you want to? It is kind of funny though because the numerous references to Charles show clearly who the book is really about.
The book has some beautiful lines, some satirically funny lines and a message I totally agree with, but neither of the two main stories captured my interest! ...more
I enjoyed every minute spent listening to this audiobook. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Pay attention - I have put it on my humorous shelf. The oI enjoyed every minute spent listening to this audiobook. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Pay attention - I have put it on my humorous shelf. The only reason it doesn't get five stars is that it was too short.......I like long books. I didn’t want it to end. I want more and more and more.
So who will love this book? People who love Holly will love this book. So who IS Holly? Now that is the central theme of the whole book so I can only tell you a bit. Holly is a free spirit. The Holly we know is the "Holly of NYC", during the war years, primarily 1943. I have lived in NYC, but later in the 50s and early 60s. Nevertheless the people in this tale are people that breathe of NYC. What they say and how they joke and what they do, well it all felt pitch-perfect. i felt right at home. Yes, my kind of humor and my kind of people. If felt like these are the people that were the "pre-Hippie people”, the people that later became the Hippies and that is to say my younger self. Anyhow, if you love NYC, and there is a special kind of person that is the New Yorker, then your chances of loving this book are exponentially higher.
One hint - pay attention to the beginning because the story starts at the end, after the main time period of the book. Remember the beginning. Who is Holly? What kind of person is she? I love Holly. What if I say she is a REAL phony, that is taken directly from the book! Now what can that mean? Well, read the book and find out.
OMG, what lines!!! Ttaste these, even if you probably cannot swallow them with so little background:
- "José was too prim to be my guy ideal." - Holly likes honesty, but not "law-type" honesty. - If you don't even like looking at the guy, you're gonna be "a cold plate of macaroni".
You see I simply cannot show you how funny this is.
Oh, and don't read this, listen to the audiobook narration by Michael C. Hall. Absolutely superb.
One more thing. I never saw the movie and I cannot possibly envision Holly as Audrey Hepburn. How did they pick her for Holly?! I guess it was good but very hard to imagine.
My explosion while reading the book: I cannot stop laughing.
And the audiobook narration by Michael C. Hall is fantastic. You have to hear Holly and Joe and the fake "Fred" and all the rest. The voices fit the lines and each character's personality. ...more
I did not like this at all. I decided to dump it after struggling through four of the nine hour audiobook narrated by Francis Jeater. The narration waI did not like this at all. I decided to dump it after struggling through four of the nine hour audiobook narrated by Francis Jeater. The narration was fine; it was the lines of the book that disappointed.
I have read other books by Virginia Woolf and enjoyed them.
In this book I felt nothing for any of the characters. As in the other novels the reader is in the heads of the various characters. Here there are numerous characters and it is extremely difficult to keep track of whose thoughts you are following. Stream of consciousness only works for me when I myself could possibly think as the character thinks, at least one of the characters. With this book I failed totally.
You follow several characters from their youth and as they each get older. The younger children did NOT think at all as a child might think. The language was way too sophisticated. As they grew up I was bored by their pompous drivel, particularly Bernhard's.
I could stand this no longer. My goodness, it IS wonderful that books purchased at Audible may be returned if you dislike them.
To summarize my reaction - these characters have nothing important to say, and I felt absolutely no empathy for any of them. Neither do I find many lines where Woolf succinctly or beautifully captures nature. If you think because of the title the setting is by the sea, well that is not the case! Don't be fooled as I was. ...more
I quite simply could not relate to the main characters - i.e. Jean, Pierre and their mother. Everything they said and thought, well I thought differenI quite simply could not relate to the main characters - i.e. Jean, Pierre and their mother. Everything they said and thought, well I thought differently! We live in different eras, but I do believe it is not just a question of that. One doesn't have to do what is the norm. Then there is the father. He is drawn as a total idiot from start to finish. He understood nothing. There was no depth to his character.
Then there this question - who is a father? Is it he who raises a child or is it the biological father?
Neither does the book draw a detailed description of an era or a place (here Normandy latter half of the 1800s)......except perhaps in the beginning when there is a lovely fishing trip near Le Havre. Very little description is given of other coastal towns in Normandy.
John McDonough also narrated this audiobook as he did the other I listened to by Guy de Maupassant, namely Bel-Ami. Now that one I loved; that one I gave five stars. (My review : https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) Don't judge Maupassant by Pierre and Jean. The narration is good on both, IF you can accept an elderly narrator.
Some may say that Pierre and Jean is a clever story, unfortunately I found it too short, with characters too ordinary and without humor. ...more
Before starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classifyBefore starting this book I didn't want to delve into the details but wanted to understand why some reviewers say this is fiction and others classify it as non-fiction. Wiki to the rescue! I am only copying the relevant information that answers this question:
"Some critics consider Capote's work the original non-fiction novel, although other writers had already explored the genre, such as Rodolfo Walsh in Operación Masacre (1957). The book examines the complex psychological relationship between two parolees who together commit a mass murder. Capote's book also explores the lives of the victims and the effect of the crime on the community in which they lived. In Cold Blood is regarded by critics as a pioneering work of the true crime genre, though Capote was disappointed that the book failed to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Parts of the book, including important details, differ from the real events."
That last sentence explains it all. Now, to the book! And then, on completion, check out Wiki.
Crime books are generally not my cup of tea, but I am very glad I read this book. There is no general rule that cannot be broken. Even the court proceedings were clear, and such usually confuse/bore me. This book is interesting because it thoroughly studies the psychological underpinnings of the criminals, the people in the community where the crime took place and the victims. How all of these people felt and thought and interacted is the central theme of the book. This is what fascinated me.
The book is interesting in its analysis of what is insanity. All aspects of insanity are looked at. How does it arise? What forms can it take? When does/should insanity absolve one a crime?
Finally the book looks at capital punishment by describing particular crimes. Here are examples, not theories.
I have read that Capote spend six years studying the case. All the details are here, but what is exceptional is the fluidity of Capote's writing. These details are woven into a prose that is exciting and easy to follow. Every detail is essential. The reader is just begging for more and more and more details, you keep turning the pages to u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d the emotions the feelings and the thoughts of all involved. And nevertheless I never felt empathy for either Dick or Perry. No, I didn't. I do think by the end I understood what had happened and why. The answers are not all delivered on a platter; you have to think and consider where you stand and what YOU think.
Mixed in with the horrid events are sentences of exceptional beauty; when that happened it hit me with a punch.
Scott Brick narrates the audiobook. It is good except that his voice for women is well awfully masculine. This is not worth deterring you from the audio format. There are many more male characters than women.
This true crime story is well composed, lucid, exciting and will keep your head whirring.
Here is a book that flips between three different times 1988 (Tooly is nine), 1999-2000(Tooly is twenty and then twenty-one) and finally 2011. Here fiHere is a book that flips between three different times 1988 (Tooly is nine), 1999-2000(Tooly is twenty and then twenty-one) and finally 2011. Here finally is a book that profits from time-switches, a modern fad typical of so many contemporary books. This construction turns the story into a mystery. It couldn't and shouldn't be written any differently. This book is perfect for you, if you want to solve a puzzle. You will solve that puzzle along with Tooly, the main character. Tooly is in her thirties and she cannot piece together what has happened to her. Why has she moved so often and who really has had her interests at heart….if anybody?
I liked the book because it gives depth to its characters. By the book’s end you finally discover who they really are. Some disappoint and some you will love. My heart fell for Humphrey; I liked this book because Humphrey is in it. It is him I love, even with all his faults. Read the book to find out about him. You are early on told he is from Russia...... He is wise. For a while he raised Tooly. That is all I will say.
Here follow a few of his lines though:
"Half your life is decided by morons."
Give "me smashed-potato pizza......or sandwich."
And he so loves coffee with not one heaping spoonful, not two, but at least five heaping spoonfuls of sugar!!!!! I do love Humphrey.
Otherwise, what happens to Tooly is not acceptable. It is shocking. Talk about bad parenting.
Another bit I love is the importance of books and learning found in these pages.
Current events of these times are stated, so some day this will be considered a book of historical fiction.
I like the ending. It is both realistic and not without hope. This is also a book about growing up and our behavior at different stages in our life. The author’s ability to capture the behavior of each age is spot-on. That is another reason why I call it realistic.
What shall I say about the narration by Penelope Rawlins? She tries so hard. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Given the time-switches, it helps to know from the voice who is speaking and what the date is, even though the text itself clarifies this. Each chapter begins with a date. Tooly grows from a nine-year-old to young woman in her thirties, and this should be reflected in her voice. It isn’t always so; sometimes she still sounds like a little kid when she is an adult. In addition, the men, ALL of them, sound like they are hoarse and have something in their throat. Seriously, ALL the men couldn’t have this strange sound! This is a very hard book to narrate, and I suppose she is trying her best.
I liked this book because of Humphrey. Read it to meet Humphrey…..or maybe you like solving puzzles!
ETA: When I wrote my review last night, I was terribly disappointed with the ending, the result being I didn’t want to write ANYTHING about the damn bETA: When I wrote my review last night, I was terribly disappointed with the ending, the result being I didn’t want to write ANYTHING about the damn book. Yeah, I am an emotional person who gets involved in the books I read. There is much I didn’t but should have mentioned.
Bellow’s writing is descriptive, filled with details of how people and places look. The dialogs capture the people’s lifestyles very well. You understand who you are dealing with. I personally feel I looked at a family which is not familiar to me. A loving family from the lower classes, but rough and coarse. To say it plainly – most of them are crooks and swindlers. What is interesting is that Augie does get an education and when he writes his story he has a vocabulary that is incongruous to the surroundings and the class of people he is describing, and this feels all wrong – until you realize that it is written later in his life. I knew before he did that it just was not going to work with him melting into the North Shore community of Chicago. I have lived in Chicago, and Bellow well portrays the different areas and their inhabitants.
There are several points of this novel that are in fact autobiographical. Bellow admired Trotsky and was going to meet him in Mexico. He joined the Merchant Marines in the Second World War. He too lived through the Depression, as Augie did. So my question is to what extent Bellow agrees with Augie’s philosophy on how life should be lived! And that is what I have trouble with – the ending and where it leaves you, what it says about Augie’s future and life philosophy. I left the book so very disappointed.
I had to listen to 1/3 of the book to begin to like it. The end totally fizzles out. I have no idea what the author was trying to say with this book.
Parts I DID like though. Augie moves through life floating from one thing to another, pulled in disparate directions by those around him. I liked when he was pulled into working for a union. I had hopes for him then. I liked when he meets up with a woman who hunted with eagles and caught snakes. Gosh, these parts were fascinating. I was there doing it with them in Mexico. But then again the story moves on.
The narration was EXCELLENT. Augie’s personality becomes a thing you recognize; he becomes a person you know. Each character speaks differently, but some are better than others. There is a guy who stutters, and here the narration was so good you could listen to the lines several times. Very, very funny! (Yeah, and there is humor in the book.) Grover Gardner, the narrator also does an excellent job with the different languages - French, Italian, Spanish.
What can I say about Augie? Well, I do wish the guy luck. I wish he would take a stand and go for what he wants.... ...more
This book is d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g! Must it be SO depressing? It doesn't help that the end tries to close with a hopeful note.
The book is about death aThis book is d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g! Must it be SO depressing? It doesn't help that the end tries to close with a hopeful note.
The book is about death and illness and how some people demand so much of themselves that they are doomed to fail. It is also about the importance of stories, our stories. There lies the wisp of hope embedded in the book.
There are some beautiful lines, lines that perceptively reveal human relationships and some of descriptive beauty. I did feel the drumming of the rain on the skylight above Ruth's bed.
The book is written for bibliophiles....maybe. I love books, and I have read a large number of the many referred to, but still this book was not for me. The central character, Ruth, is a bedridden girl of 19. She has decided to read all her father's books, the point being to discover who her father really was. A person's books do say who you are, don't they? She refers to these books by their number in her father's library. Yep, they are all numbered, and they are in the thousands. Poetry and classics. Mythology and history. Dickens and Edith Wharton and Faulkner. Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy too, of course. I objected to how she refers to characters/events in theses famous books as quick explanations for events and characters in her story. (The book we are reading is Ruth's story.) But you can't do that. The situations are not the same; the details are not the same, and it is the details that make a story. It all becomes superficial and cursory. For me this was a disservice to the original literature. In addition, the numerous references to the books' titles, date and city of publication made the writing disjointed.
I didn't feel engaged in the lives of her father, her mother, her grandparents or great grandparents. All are quickly covered. There is too much in too few pages. Her relationship with her twin brother, yes, there the story came alive. Only here did I feel the love that bound these two.
There is humor. Maybe half of it made me laugh.
The setting is Clare, Ireland, after the bust, but the stories of her ancestors go back to the First World War.
The narration of the audiobook by Jennifer McGrath was lovely. Her Irish dialect is beautiful, lilting.
Just to clear things up: this book is the same as Dostoyevsky's Demons and The Devils!
No, I am not finishing this book. I have listened to 1/3. My reaJust to clear things up: this book is the same as Dostoyevsky's Demons and The Devils!
No, I am not finishing this book. I have listened to 1/3. My reason is very simple: the discussion/theorizing about nihilism and God, with a spicy murder or two, suicides, and the “who-dunnit” question thrown in, are elements common to all four of the four books I have read by Dostoyevsky:
I have had enough, particularly since I have already read Dostoyevsky's last novel, Brothers Karamazov, which clearly summarizes his beliefs. This was the last one he wrote before his death. A fellow GR reader (Dely) described the four as rising to a crescendo, and she is absolutely right. If you wish to read all four read them in the above order.
Being who I am, it would have been better if I had not continued beyond Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, both of which I loved. They are more ambiguous, less preachy, less didactic. They let the readers decide for themselves what they want to think. On the other hand if you are out after Dostoyevsky's views you need only read Brothers Karamazov. I personally don't want to be told what to think.
In addition the narration by Constance Garnett was not good. You cannot tell who is speaking. The French is really off. No, find some other narrator if you want to listen to this book. This audiobook also lacks the chapter called either "By Tichon" or "Confessions of Stavrogin", which has important information for a better understanding of the events. Wiki does provide information about the content of the chapter though. The chapter was censored in the first publications of the book. I have not finished the audiobook, so there remains the possibility that it is added at the end as an appendix. ...more