In this book we follow a twelve year old boy, Doug, through his summer vacation. You follow not only his thoughts, deeds and contemplations, but alsoIn this book we follow a twelve year old boy, Doug, through his summer vacation. You follow not only his thoughts, deeds and contemplations, but also those of his younger brother, Tom, who is ten, and of his friends and other characters in the fictive Green Town. The book is semi-autobiographical, based on the author's own childhood summers in Waukegan, Illinois. I thought I would get summers and childhood reminiscences in a small Midwestern town. The year is 1928. Kick-the-can, new sneakers, warm summer nights on porches, lightning bugs and most importantly NO SCHOOL. I thought this would be fun. I got the games, the sneakers and the bugs, but……
Some classify this as science fiction. Others see it simply as containing a large portion of magical realism. Doug has a vivid imagination. Here is where the magical realism comes in, and with this I have no problem. On the other hand, the adults’ behavior is just too ridiculous for words. Their antics stretch the believable, and each event delivers a pithy moral. There is a "happiness machine" (view spoiler)[that burns up (hide spoiler)], and thereafter we are given a sentimental lesson about what is real happiness. Which of course I do agree with, but it is so simplistic, so obvious. The machine, that is the invention of one of the adult town denizens, not one of the kids!
I had a much easier time with Doug's grappling with typical coming of age issues - death, happiness, the value of learning. It was amusing to observe his interactions with his brother and what his brother says. The two are very different! Again, the town’s adults’ behavior gets in the way. Quarrels, gossip and yes even a silly murder is thrown in. That we are delivered different “events”, different things that happened that summer of 1928, makes the reading disjointed. By focusing on so many different characters you get little depth in any character portrayal.
All too often what is said and what happens are not believable. Continually, I would remark, "One wouldn't do that or say that!" An example is when Aunt Rose is (view spoiler)[sent packing. That would not happen. She would be told to get out of Grandma's kitchen, but not to leave. (hide spoiler)]
Occasionally the feel of summer is well described, but so much more could have been done to conjure the feel of summer. No marbles. No swimming.
So much more could have been done with Doug's grappling with the idea of his own death.. At his age kids do all of a sudden realize "they-will-die". It is quite a shock. I remember going through this myself, but as it is described here it is shallow. Again no depth.
The narration of the audiobook by Paul Michael Garcia is fine. I just wish he had paused a bit between the different chapters. This is necessary since each chapter is like a different story and they are not numbered. You need a pause, though it is only a minor problem.
I love the idea of dandelion wine being the repository of all that is summer, but this book, in my view, doesn't capture that. Good idea, poorly executed. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am thoroughly enjoying myself! Vibrant colors, island life, folklore and history all rolled into one. Real life characters that draw you iAfter 1/3:
I am thoroughly enjoying myself! Vibrant colors, island life, folklore and history all rolled into one. Real life characters that draw you in. Physical attraction and love.
I totally loved this book. Every aspect of it. Life on the island of St. Thomas (one of the American Virgin Islands) pulled me in and kept a tight grip on me, from the first page to the last, even the epilogue. I was engaged emotionally and intellectually. I breathed the air of the island, saw the colors and came to intimately understand life there. History is told through the people we meet, so we care. I looked at pictures of the island but they didn't come close to capturing the atmosphere of the place. The time period is the 1800s. After reading this book I feel like I have been there for a l-o-n-g stay, and yet my feet have never touched that soil. I came to understand its delights and its restrictions. Race and religion and social standards all intertwine. Alice Hoffman clearly knows that different places have different lights, sounds, smells.
You have certainly heard of the famed father of the Impressionist Movement - Camille Pissarro. He was born there, in 1830.His mother in 1795. She mothered eleven children. A twelfth was buried unnamed. You start by learning about his mother's life. This is interesting, engaging and movingly told. You have to understand her story to understand her son's. To understand his art you must understand him. The book is so wonderful because it captures family relationships amazingly well. It captures how those we love are also those we hurt. Love isn't easy. The author knows people, and her lines beautifully capture how we hurt, love, tease, entice and question each other.
The book covers what has shaped the artist - his family relationships. It is not a book that follows his artistic life, his paintings, his adult years in France. That is for a biographer. There is a lengthy sojourn in Paris though, his years spent at school.
The audiobook is narrated by four. Tina Benko tells the mother's story. She was my favorite. I utterly adored her husky voice. Santino Fontana is the young Camille. Gloria Reuben is the book's narrator. Finally Alice Hoffman, the author, follows with the epilogue. All do an excellent job. Each captured the feel of the lines being read. ...more
Before reading: I am reading this not because I want to but because I feel I ought to. Is it going to make me feel all horrible? I can accept this ifBefore reading: I am reading this not because I want to but because I feel I ought to. Is it going to make me feel all horrible? I can accept this if it constructively explains what you can do to "improve" the end of life.
In conclusion: I am glad I read the book, but it wasn’t particularly fun. There are many examples given of particular people, their illnesses and the difficulties they had, one being the author’s father. I didn’t understand all the medical terms used. Examples are given to illustrate the author’s conclusions on how medical care of the aging should be altered. The author, who is himself a surgeon, shows new, better alternatives and how they came to be. He does this by naming pioneers of better nursing homes, assisted care units and hospice development. For a person in the medical field I think this book is essential because it shows how medical changes need to be and can be implemented…., but I am not employed in the medical field and the historical developments, although interesting, were a bit extraneous for me. From my point of view, these sections could have been shortened, even if they do show the direction the author is supporting. One can ask, “Who is this book for?”
In my family we have had several deaths in the past years. So the weaknesses coupled to end of life medical care, nursing homes and hospices were not new to me. I didn’t have to be told; I was not surprised in the least.
What I wanted from this book were guidelines showing me how I could improve my husband’s and my own end of life. Did the book do this? Well, it made me face my own situation and what lay ahead. As a result of reading this book I will be looking into what alternatives are available here in Sweden when we are no longer able to manage alone. My husband and I have discussed exactly how we see the future. It has made clear to us that we value independence and that we want to stay where we are as long as possible – even if such living may be less safe than living near a hospital. We plan on looking in to Assisted Care Facilities that offer a gradual increase of care as needs increase. Do they have queues? Are they expensive? Where are they located? The essential point is that you have to know what you are looking for and that will be different for each family. So, yes, I am glad I read the book. It made me evaluate what is important to me – nature and independence and a dog and pretty landscape. The book pushed me to do this.
Another issue the book pushes you to evaluate is how long you want to extend the years of your life even if that time is filled with pain and discomfort. This too is a personal decision.
The book guides you in what sort of questions you should ask your doctor, but of course some questions are specific to the illness one is coping with.
Some conclusions are drawn that may be true for many, but not for my husband and I. Generally, most seem to want more contact with family as they age. This has its difficult sides too, and the book mentions this only briefly. I think more attention could have been devoted to this topic.
While funeral wishes are important to discuss at life’s end, I found it unnecessary that the author discussed the details of his father’s funeral in this book.
Practically nothing is said about how the elderly no longer want to travel. I may add that if you want to travel do it when you are young and fit. I am thankful to have traveled earlier in my life.
The book is primarily concerned with American facilities, and practically nothing is said about costs.
The audiobook is narrated by Robert Petkoff. It is read at a good speed. When good nursing facilities were being discussed he tended to sound SO enthused, SO exuberant. Really, I found this a bit childish. It doesn’t distort the text, but exaggerates how wonderful it all is. I could have done without this.
The book has made me more appreciative of what I have. It has pushed my husband and me to evaluate which qualities of life we deem most important. With a clearer understanding of our preferences we can more easily deal with what lies ahead. ...more
Dear friends, how often is it that I dump a book? Don't I usually stick them out to the end? Well, I have had it with this one. It has not improved. IDear friends, how often is it that I dump a book? Don't I usually stick them out to the end? Well, I have had it with this one. It has not improved. I have gone over the half-way mark. Another 8.5 hours is unbearable.
In the first book of this series there is a friendship, albeit complicated. Now there is no semblance at all of any possible reason for friendship. You may think differently, but that is how I see it. I detest (view spoiler)[ Lila (hide spoiler)]! IF this is meant to be a coming-of-age-story, simply because it is about teenagers, I do not recommend it. Neither to adults nor a younger group of readers. I do not get a kick out of reading about nasty, mean people in my free time. I've had it.
The second book is so very similar to the first! I have listened to 1/3 or a 1/2 of the book, something like that. Same theme again. Same message, and it is so unpleasant to follow. Two girlfriends. They admire and hate each other. Jealous. Nasty. Biting. Yes, the girls have it tough; both of them, but the book is not going anywhere.
There are amusing lines like: "He is a student, but not too boring."
Am I too old for this book? It is a coming-of-age story, of figuring out what you want to do with your life. At this point I just feel like shouting, "Figure it out. Make up your mind and stop being so dependent on each other."
If I complain will it get better? If it does not improve I am certainly not going to read the third in the series.
WARNING significant spoiler ahead: One more thing, the very (view spoiler)[beginning of the first book is extremely important. It seems to say where this is all going to end up. So the surprise seems to be gone. Maybe I didn't hear that beginning correctly? This question is all that keeps an element of surprise to the book! (hide spoiler)]
BTW, the narration of the audiobook by Hillary Huber is excellent. It is not the narration that is the problem!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I so liked this book! Why? Because Kent Haruf understands people - what we say to each other, what we actually mean and how we behave. He speaks simplI so liked this book! Why? Because Kent Haruf understands people - what we say to each other, what we actually mean and how we behave. He speaks simply, honestly, directly, alternating humor with the characters’ heartrending choices. He never lectures, but the message is clear.
This is a book about two elderly people, one a widow and the other a widower. Take a guess - yep, it is about love. That is the beginning. What Haruf has dreamed up is possible and I dare anyone to say otherwise. The idea is simply wonderful. Now it is up to us to remember and be brave enough to try.
You do not have to have read any other of his books to pick this one up.
I don't like books about dysfunctional families / relationships. I don't like short novels. This book is both, and yet I really enjoyed it. It moved me. I was alternately laughing, angry or sad. What makes or breaks a book is not its genre but how it is written - the dialogs, the humor, how it tugs at your heart, the message it leaves, how the plot flows and how the end is tied up. This book satisfied me on all these accounts.
Do you know what bothered me a teeny, teeny bit? Well, a few small little details bugged me. Here is an example of two. (view spoiler)[The first night they bring home an adopted dog he sleeps peacefully in a room with the door open. No, that is not possible! Neither do I believe it consistent that Jean allows his son to bring the dog home. (hide spoiler)] I know I am being picky. And maybe at times a little more passion or anger would have occurred, in real life I mean.
Mark Bramhall's narration of the audiobook was superb. He speaks slowly and with feeling. This fit the text beautifully. If audiobooks are new to you, this is a good one to try. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
BEFORE READING: I am very curious how I will react..... I gave To Kill a Mockingbird(TKAM) five stars, but I am NOT afraid of Atticus loosing his paradBEFORE READING: I am very curious how I will react..... I gave To Kill a Mockingbird(TKAM) five stars, but I am NOT afraid of Atticus loosing his paradigm status.
Different thoughts are circling in my head before I even pick the book up. This is about Atticus and Scout in the years after TKAM. However, since GSAW was written first and the two were not originally intended as a "series", is it fair for the reader to judge the books together, as a unit, as more information about the same characters? I think I have to see the books as separate. Will this be possible? I must not look for answers in one book to questions that arise in another. I am trying to go into this book with fresh eyes.
The book as a whole feels unfinished, not worked through enough, in relation to its - characters - ending - title - nor its message, that is to say its central theme.
On the positive side, it shines in its depiction of a time and place. Provincial Alabama in the 50s. Three stars is a book worth reading, and I am very glad to have read this simply to have slipped again into Harper Lee's fictional Maycomb Junction, which we all know from her famed To Kill a Mockingbird. The lines are best when Lee is describing the earlier years in flashbacks. It isn't at all surprising that Lee was originally told by the publisher to go back and rework these years. The words of Scout and Jem and dear, dear Calpurnia sparkle.
In this book the main story is set at a later date, when Scout, now more appropriately called Jean Louise, is twenty-six and living in New York. She has returned home for a visit to Maycomb and family. Atticus, her father, is now seventy-two and seriously handicapped by arthritis. His sister, Alexandra, takes care of him. There is a conflict between Jean Louise and her father. Jean Louise is, as she has always been, outspoken and opinionated about.... well everything and everyone! Not just her father. She NEVER got along with Alexandra! Her words now become in places a bit of a rant. I happen to agree with her views, but she is only twenty-six and has not yet become emotionally independent. That is the central theme of this book. Isn't it a shock when you realize your parents are not Gods?
You can see how one book grew from the other, but there are numerous loose ends in Go Set a Watchman(GSAW). There isn't enough in this book. You need the depth that was there in the earlier book to understand the characters. The themes are different, or let's say more focused in To Kill a Mockingbird on one issue - racial inequality and doing the right thing.
One word about the ending. It is bad. It is too quick. Again, more is needed to make it plausible. It could happen, but not as it is described here.
The narration by Reese Witherspoon was exemplary! Fantastic. The southern dialect superb. The young voices and the older characters sounded pitch perfect. The characters' personalities were wonderfully reflected in the tempo and the voice intonations. ...more
I received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you thisI received this book through GR’s First Reads Program. Thank you!
I read this book from start to finish with a magnifying glass. I am telling you this simply because even given the difficulty it posed for me to read the book, given my poor eyesight, I would not quit. It was that good!
You can read a book of fiction for the story that is told, for what happens, Let's call this plot. Or you can read fiction for how it is written, for the charm, beauty, wisdom and humor of the lines. It was the latter that I loved about this book. The language is simple. The dialogs too. There stand just a few words, but you understand immediately their meaning and significance. Everything in this book is said with utter simplicity. All the unnecessary is washed away. You laugh, you marvel, you ponder.
What this book offers is a peek into three lives. The three are Etta's, Otto's and Russell's. This is a book about friendship and love - different kinds of love. And then there is James, a coyote. Otto and Russell grew up together; Russell almost part of Otto’s family. . All three spent their entire lives together. Three's a crowd? No, not here. This story is the quiet telling of their lives together. From childhood to old age - through adolescence and separation and war.
I should not like this book. It jumps backwards and forwards in time. Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which I detested, it follows an elderly person's pilgrimage. There are similarities between the two that I dislike, but Etta's pilgrimage doesn't have the religious message of Fry's. I usually don't read fantasy, and honestly there are elements that stretch believability. An eighty-two year-old woman plagued with dementia walking alone from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic 3232km away? Her husband, Otto, doesn't stop her? And Russell’s choices? Possibly conceivable, but not likely! Then there is the coyote, with whom Etta communicates. Remember? That is James! But hey, I can communicate with my dog, so why can't she communicate with James? Let's just say the book has magical realism. I like magical realism. Magical realism is just about different interpretations, not fantasy really. Regardless of why I shouldn't have liked this book I still did. Actually very, very much as I read it, but the ending – it just stopped. Did I want more of a message, a final punch?
If this book is available or becomes available in an audiobook format I would advise against it. You need to see the words' placement on the pages to comprehend the time switches. You need to see which portions of the text are letters between Etta and Otto. In the paper book these are in italics. Maybe most importantly, it is delightful to read the text slowly savoring each word, to suck on the lines. It is this that is the best part of the book, not what happens step by step. The value of the book is the passage through it. ...more
This is my first Banville. I would say everyone has to experience how this author writes. Very descriptive. Descriptions more of how people behave andThis is my first Banville. I would say everyone has to experience how this author writes. Very descriptive. Descriptions more of how people behave and relate rather than sceneries. There is very little about Ireland; this could happen anywhere. You want to understand the characters' personalities - primarily Max's. His wife is dying of cancer. How he relates to her is, at least partially, a product of earlier events in his life. The story evokes an elderly man remembering his pubescence.That is about all I can say. I don't want to explain too much because it is in fact how we come to understand that is so well done! The writing is special.
I like how when you reach the end you understand why and what and how things occurred, but they are not spelled out clearly. You are not told; you discover. You have to stop and think and put one and two together.
Occasionally I found the language on the wordy side, but then I slipped back into liking it. Experiencing the author's style of writing is a must.
This book feels like a glimpse into another person's life. I didn't always like Max's behavior. I didn't always agree with some of his thoughts. Nevertheless, he felt very real, just different from me on that and that point. How he felt in a hospital, was the very hardest for me to accept. I just have to put this down to different experiences. And his behavior was cruel and indifferent and so unattached sometimes. I couldn't help but think, "Are there people like this?" My head tells me there are, lots of them in fact. His cruelty, was it due to curiosity, as he claims?! His indifference, well you have to know what has happened in his life to understand that.
At the end, when you know all the facts, only then can you properly reconsider what you have been told. You are left with questions and they are fun to think through.
A central theme is death. Don't all of us think about that from time to time, particularly as we get older or someone near to us dies? The second central theme is memory.
The narration of the audiobook by Jim Norton was good. Good speed and clearly spoken.
If a book leaves me unmoved I don't even know what to say in a review. No, this wasn't terrible but it contains nothing exceptional. It is a long storIf a book leaves me unmoved I don't even know what to say in a review. No, this wasn't terrible but it contains nothing exceptional. It is a long story and only covers about twenty years of the main character's life. It is a coming-of-age story about an orphan with a clubfoot in Britain at the turn of the century. By the end he has figured out how he wants to live his life. Let me put it this way - appreciate the small ordinary things in life.
Philip, the main character, is terribly naive and he had no help from any parent so I ought to have felt more compassion for him - but I didn't. He makes such stupid choices. He seems totally blind in seeing the real character of people, and he cannot pick girls. The book goes on and on and on until he finally wakes up. The end I guessed half way through. It's cute. Don't get me wrong. I agree with what is being said but there is little to ponder and the message is so unremarkable.
Here are the topics covered: faith, art, bullying, boarding-schools, love, travel and choosing one's occupation. There is a lot about art, but it has the tone of art criticism. I personally don't want art dissected or analyzed to pieces. I want it to move me; if it does that I am satisfied. Only the discussion of the Spanish artist El Greco did I find a teeny bit interesting. Maybe you enjoy art criticism.... Numerous artists and authors are discussed. Why? Because Philip had a hard time choosing his occupation so he tries several – the clergy, accountant, artist, doctor. Guess where he ends up. (view spoiler)[His father had been a doctor. This I found a bit too simplistic. (hide spoiler)]
Steven Crossley narrated the audiobook. The women all sound the same. This can be excused by their all sharing a Kent dialect? The story's narrator and the men were fine, but extremely British. They are supposed to sound British so what can you expect?! No, I didn't love the narration, but it was OK, just as the book was OK.
Not bad, but in no way exceptional. Some interesting lines, but that is about it. How am I supposed to write a moving review if the book leaves me lukewarm?
All I know is that I couldn't put the book down. It's a good story, well written, exciting and suspenseful. Yeah the language is bad and there is lotsAll I know is that I couldn't put the book down. It's a good story, well written, exciting and suspenseful. Yeah the language is bad and there is lots of sex, but heck I really liked it A LOT.
Fay, poor Fay!
A word about Fay. I have been yelled at, in another review, for using the term "white trash". So tell me what other words can be used that so succinctly, so completely depict a group of people? OK, I will describe Fay as poor and uneducated, but that just brushes the surface of her ignorance. Her understanding of how the world works is at a completely other level than most people's. She doesn't know about tips or that liquor and cigarettes can only be bought if you are over 18. That is just two examples. I did wonder at times if such ignorance was possible. She went only through the fifth grade. This book shows you her world and it is worth reading just for that. To learn. To understand what such a life is like; not to accuse but to really understand. What are her alternatives? Does she even have any alternatives?
Eventually she learns about the real world. All I will say is that she survives. That is the only hint I will give about this story that concerns a police officer, 17 year-old Fay and a strip club bouncer in Mississippi in 1985. Love and survival are the themes.
Believe it or not, there is humor. Here is one example. She has learned one must tip. So she tips a taxi driver and he says, "You are a very kind lady, and a most scrumptious one!" I smiled.
There is so much beer consumed in this book it ought to be made into a movie to sell beer. That the characters didn't simply float away is amazing.
Beside the tension that builds, what hit me about the writing was the author's ability to describe body movements in such detail that you can read body language without seeing a picture. This is very effective. The emotions are there before your eyes through the body language described. It is like watching a movie rather than hearing a story.
The audiobook narration by Tom Stechschutte was perfect. No complaints. Each character, when they spoke, sounded just as they should sound.
My thoughts half-way through:
This is so sad. Do you hear me?
And life is so complicated. It is actually possible to "love" a person so terribly f*/ked up as Fay....even given what she does. My heart bleeds for Fay. ...more
This is the book to read if you want to feel how history affects people, ordinary people. You follow a Jewish Romanian immigrant family from 1916 to 1This is the book to read if you want to feel how history affects people, ordinary people. You follow a Jewish Romanian immigrant family from 1916 to 1945. They live in the South - Mobile, Alabama. You get Confederate Anniversary Celebrations, WW1, Ku Klux Klan, the Depression and WW2 and what it is like to be Black or Jewish in the South. The family has a store. The kids, three of them, grow up. They move; they leave the nest. This is a book about family. There is no way that a short book like this can cover historical events in detail, but it shows you how historical events changes ordinary people's lives.
What makes this book special is the jumble of different cultures and religions and races all found in the immigrant quarter of Mobile, Alabama. The mix of Yiddish and Irish and Cuban and Spanish and Romanian, Black and White, Jewish and Christian cultures all perfectly mirrored in the characters' dialogs. Songs and colloquial speech and fruits and scents and foods and sex (adolescent and adult) and brawls in a glorious jumbled mix. Life as it really is for an immigrant family in the South. Tears and happiness. Sorrow and joy. Read this book. You will be surprised at how good it is.
I did not understand all the terms. All the different languages! Past and present are jumbled too. But it is this very jumble that creates the special atmosphere of the book. I heartily recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Toni Orans. She pulls it off - songs and dialects, kids and adults, ups and downs.....
The title is explained in the author’s note at the beginning of the book. It is a Romanian saying with a Southern twist. ...more
The beginning is funny, but maybe you need a twisted sense of humor like mine.
The language is vulgar. To state otherwise is a pure lie.
The book althThe beginning is funny, but maybe you need a twisted sense of humor like mine.
The language is vulgar. To state otherwise is a pure lie.
The book although fiction very closely follows the author's own youth.
The setting is Los Angeles. The time is 1920-1941, that is to say from Bukowski's own birth to Pearl Harbor. Bukowski's alter-ego is Henry Chinaski, the main character in the book. Wiki states that Bukowski's books are about "the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work." After completing the book I had to compare what happens in the book with Bukowski’s life. I chose to start with this book by Bukowski because it is about his youth. I wanted to understand the man's personality. I believe one's childhood has a strong, though not the sole, influence on who we become. So, did I get what I wanted? Do I feel I understand Bukowski? Yes. And that is quite an achievement since I am as far from the central protagonist and Bukowski as one can be.
I think I understand why Chinaski became so violent, abusive, turned to alcohol and used such filthy language. This is not just due to his violent father; there is more than one cause. I like that the causes are not simplified. You get a picture to think about. You get guidelines - the ending being very important in showing how he may change. That too is why I had to go to Wiki! I liked the ending. You understand but you are not blatantly told. (view spoiler)[It was so perfect how he played a boxing game with a kid, that he tells us he had to win....and yet who does win? He lets the boy win, and he walks away so that the boy believes he has truly won. (hide spoiler)]
I guess I better repeat. The language is filthy and the sexual terms are explicit - but keep in mind this was his world. In addition, if you relax and don't get up-tight you will realize it is very funny. When Henry is no longer a kid, after his senior year in high school, then I started having trouble with his behavior. I was disgusted that he NEVER grew up. You cannot excuse horrible behavior forever. Can you?! I had a very hard time with this. "How much more can I take?" is what went through my mind. Then came Pearl Harbor and the wonderful ending. The ending is not schmaltzy but you get a glimpse of hope and then you must compare the novel with the events of Bukowski's life.
A good novel, like this one, will give a few hints so you can place it in a historical time-period. Here you get the Depression and the US' entrance into the Second World War. Historical events change people's lives - always. To avoid the historical setting is a no-no in my book. But you don't need to be smothered in historical facts to show how people are affected.
The audiobook narration by Christian Baskous was wonderful. The kids, the meanies and the weaklings, are just perfect. I really enjoyed the narration.
So why do I like this book so much? Because it both let me understand a life very different from mine AND it made me laugh. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Yeah, I rally liked this book. Maybe it is even amazing.
I love it because it is set in France, both in Paris and villages along the coast, NYC, LondonYeah, I rally liked this book. Maybe it is even amazing.
I love it because it is set in France, both in Paris and villages along the coast, NYC, London, Spain, Nigeria, Reykjavik, the Bahamas and more.
I love it because it captures the WHOLE life of an ordinary man. It is about youth, the middle years and aging. Being a child and having children. It is about love, the physical attraction and the emotional one.
Logan, the central character, is, a man with strong sexual needs. Some may label him as immoral. Sure, if he were my husband I would be hurt and furious. But who am I to judge another human being? Who am I to say he was bad?
Any Human Heart captures the 20th Century. What we are reading is Logan's autobiography based on his private journals. He is who he is; at the same time he is aware of his own weaknesses. History is wonderfully woven in; Logan is NOT at the center of history’s outstanding events; that would be skewed. He is at the fringe. The book doesn’t teach the history of the 1900s but it shows how that century’s events intersected people’s lives and it gives tantalizing bits of less well known information, all historically accurate…as far as I can see. There are bits about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (i.e. the abdicated King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson), Axel Wenner-Gren, the Baader-Meinhof gang, the authors and artists of the Lost Generation, the Spanish Civil War, the Biafran War.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Simon Vance. Not only are his French, English and American accents impeccable, but he also captures voice changes as one ages. His intonation of the aged Logan is fantastic. Just fantastic. French lines are not translated.
But really what makes this book so special is HOW it is written. It is the lines. That is the ingredient that is so hard to define, but which makes or breaks a book. I gave a few quotes below, but to understand how perfect they are you have to read those lines in context. I loved the subtle humor. I was smiling at lines that could have disgusted me, but I they didn’t. That is because they are spoken by Logan, and he is not me. Having read this book I understand Logan and that is why I can smile. I have seen the world through another’s eyes. A wonderful experience.
I am nearing the end. Logan is 71. I am laughing and crying simultaneously. Ohhhhhh, the poor man. His diet! Do I dare tell you?
He was looking for tinned stew with vegetables.He spotted a tin with the words "plump chucklets of rabbit nestling in a rich dark gravy"..... but on the other side it was labeled Bowser! A tin of dog food on the wrong shelf! He thought, "If I bought six tins of Bowser, chopped up a carrot and onion and heated the whole thing in a saucepan.I might have a hearty rabbit stew that would last me a week..... And very tasty Bowser rabbit stew turned out to be, especially with a liberal addition of tomato ketchup and a good jolt of Worcester sauce. These last components, I would say, are essential for a all dog foods in my experience." Need I say he isn't doing so well financially? Just wait; you will also come to care for Logan.
Almost half left:
With this book I realize I don't have to love the central character or any other character to enjoy a book. I like this book because of the lines, the way the author has the characters speak or express their thoughts. Logan, the central character, feels utterly REAL to me. His actions feel so genuine even if I don't happen to like them. I like how history is told through one person's life. The book has a good tempo. It has humor. I like how Logan travels around Europe, zigzagging between England, France and Spain, and we the readers can follow along. Good stuff. Also, the book is so simple to follow - no time jumps, no mystery puzzles, just a plain good story. A real person's life, that is how it feels. ...more
McDermott's writing doesn’t work for ME, at least not here, not in this book! I didn't relate, and that is strange since this is a book about women, aMcDermott's writing doesn’t work for ME, at least not here, not in this book! I didn't relate, and that is strange since this is a book about women, all women, what we share. Not the famous, not the outstanding but the ordinary, albeit ”Western" woman. I think it tries to say too much. It washes out; it becomes too general.
The jokes, the girl-talk, the first love, how we relate to our husbands, the birth of our children, religious contemplations. It is all here, but I didn't relate......and I don't think I am all that different from other ordinary women! There is a remove, a distance.
The storyline hops around in time. It isn’t hard to follow once you are into the book and know who is who, but this device doesn’t add to the book, so why is it used?
The lines have certainly NOT been destroyed by the audiobook's talented narrator, Kate Reading, who is of course Kathryn Ann Fleming. She died tragically in 2006. You simply cannot beat her narrations. For me at least, a good narrator cannot turn an empty book into a good one. ...more
So this was a Tolstoy...... Hmph, the story doesn't say much except to reiterate how difficult and painful death can be, both physically and emotionalSo this was a Tolstoy...... Hmph, the story doesn't say much except to reiterate how difficult and painful death can be, both physically and emotionally. The story is way too short to establish empathy for Ivan Ilyich! He was a judge. A game of bridge was his favorite amusement. All his life he conformed to proper decorum, becoming with age aloof and irascible. What was the point of life - both he and the readers may ask?! Talk about a depressing book!!!!
The narration by Walter Zimmerman was certainly not bad, but it didn't add anything....more