This is a short humorous story that doesn't ever seem to fully get off the ground. But still, it's fun and lighthearted. And while there aren't any de...moreThis is a short humorous story that doesn't ever seem to fully get off the ground. But still, it's fun and lighthearted. And while there aren't any deep secretive insights to the human condition, it made me smile through pretty much the whole thing, and that has to be worth something, right? I loved Dahl's warning to potential medicine makers. Equally so, I appreciated the ending. It was touching in its uncomplicated way. The image of a child knowing his fingers had brushed the magic edge of another world leaves the reader/listener in a wistful rumination.
Derek Jacobi is narrator, and he really nails the reading. I might go so far as to say that Jacobi's delivery shines slightly brighter than Dahl's words. Regarding the production end of things, I didn't care at all for the numerous musical scores that seemed jammed in at odd places within the story. They were distracting and unnecessary. I felt they detracted from the overall presentation.
I recommend this to any and all Dahl enthusiasts. For those peripheral fans, you can skip it, and not feel as if you're getting left out in the cold darkness. (less)
This brief and unabridged audio production begins with Revolting Rhymes then progresses into Dirty Beasts. There is music arranged as dividers between...moreThis brief and unabridged audio production begins with Revolting Rhymes then progresses into Dirty Beasts. There is music arranged as dividers between the various rhymes. I usually do not like music in audio productions but this is the exception. I appreciated how the music provided a moment for laughter or reflection, and I never felt as if the musical interludes were distracting. Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Miriam Margolyes take turns reading the selections. All of them do a fantastic job, and not once did a narrator overacting the material pull me away from the text. I think Penguin Audio got this right.
While this is aimed at a youthful audience, it's accessible for all ages. Those who are younger will enjoy the enthusiastic readings and rhyming schemes on display. For the older reader/listener, the cleverness of Dahl is truly something to appreciate.
Incidentally, my favorite was "The Toad and the Snail." (less)
Joe Hill has improved as a writer, and this book is the evidence. The story itself, the subject, is okay. It glints from time to time with the gleam o...moreJoe Hill has improved as a writer, and this book is the evidence. The story itself, the subject, is okay. It glints from time to time with the gleam of something special, but there are too many slack points where the tightrope loses tension and the story sags like a wet shirt pinned to a spring line. But wow, the writing is a different animal. And Joe Hill has begun to use situation as a means to unlock character, much like his father does so well. Congrats Mr. Hill, you're pointed in the right direction. I wish I could talk with you about the craft of writing, I feel like I could really learn something from how you've improved. If you read this, drop me a line.
I found the pop culture references intriguing at first, but then they became repetitive and just got tired. Hill's use of profanity becomes heavy-handed, and while I don't mind bad language when it suits the character, the swearing became gratuitous and quickly lost the sense of authentic expression. In fact, at some point in this book, every time a character started dropping choice words, the narrative thinned and the author punched through the curtain. This shouldn't happen. It's like walking around with your fly open, or leaving your browser stuck on the last porn page you visited.
I found the ending oddly... wrong? Out of place? I don't know. I feel pretentious to sit here and rip apart something so nicely written. Being critical is easy, creating is the hard part, and I don't want to give the impression that I'm leaning back in my chair, lips bent down like a pinched horseshoe, I, squinting down my honker. That being said, the ending struck me as mostly empty, lacking all sense of purpose.
I'm not sure what to rate this. I read this in a great gluttonous literary gulp. Every chance I had, I was reading. But I wasn't reading it for the story, it was the writing that held my "turtle eyes." And I must say here, "I loved the paperweight! I want one of those paperweights!" So I don't know. Part of me thinks I should give this a two. But then can I really give something a two that prompted me to read so ravenously? No, it's not fair to the writing, the book (or the author).
I'd recommend this to anyone who has a fondness for circa 1980s Stephen King. Hill is definitely following the footsteps, he's not there yet, but he's picked up the pace. And he's beginning to find his own stride (and that is exciting).
For the first time I can honestly say, "I'm looking forward to the next Joe Hill book."
This is one of those Last people on Earth stories with a twist. A woman inexplicably trapped behind an invisible wall, this book tells her account. It...moreThis is one of those Last people on Earth stories with a twist. A woman inexplicably trapped behind an invisible wall, this book tells her account. It took me a while to understand that there is two voices at work in this story. One of these is the diary of the woman, which tells of day-to-day activities and thoughts. The other voice is the woman commenting on her diary in a retrospective style. So just imagine that a person has kept a journal, and now they are looking back through the journal and adding thoughts and musing on what they remember and so on, and so on. I don't feel this shifting back and forth worked very well, but with translations, and this was originally printed in German, it's always a mixed bag since we are having a story filtered through the translator before it reaches us. My German is fair, but it's not good enough to read this in its original language, and I have a suspicion that it is much better in German.
The pacing is slow, and often the descriptions were awkward, repetitive, and slightly bland. Again, remember that this is a translation. I didn't find the philosophical ruminations all that intriguing, and some I found to be offensive and inaccurate. I admit that I picked this up hoping for a gripping read, it wasn't, and I'm trying to make sure that how I am feeling isn't so much a representation of my reader expectations but rather a reflection of the work itself.
There's a lot of symbolism in this book, and I think it would be a great addition to any syllabus in either gender studies or a course in feminist science fiction. So as academic material, this is full of great stuff just waiting to be examined through a critical lens.
Last, I can't ignore the one thing that drove me nuts through this entire book. Almost from the very beginning we are informed that (view spoiler)[the hound is destined to die. Over and over and over again, we are hammered with this bit of information. Now I'm a dog person, I have a hound that I love dearly. So it's not something I enjoy, reading about how a dog will die, how tragic it was/will be, how it... well you get the point. It seemed odd to me that Haushofer would want to foreshadow this event so far in advance. She builds the death of the dog up so much, and then we are also informed that a bull will die by an axe that split its brains out, but it's not until the absolute ending that these events take place. To spend hundreds of pages laying the groundwork for impending death, commenting on how the loss of these animals created such a whole in the woman's life, only to dispatch the animals in two sentences, is imbalanced. I found myself withdrawing from the character's plight, even getting tired of her mercurial temperament. (hide spoiler)]
I would recommend this book. But don't think it's going to be a quick read, it's slow and a bit like walking over a slide of splintered stones barefoot. If I could, I'd give this two and a half stars.
If someone out there has read this in the original German, I'd love to hear from you. What were your thoughts? Have you read it in the English translation and drawn a comparison between the two? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Random House Audio deserves recognition for its unassuming presentation of Haruki Murakami's South of the Border,...moreLet's talk content and presentation.
Random House Audio deserves recognition for its unassuming presentation of Haruki Murakami's South of the Border, West of the Sun: A Novel. Eric Loren acts as narrator and does a nice job, although it be unmemorable. Loren doesn't overdramatize or clutter his reading with unnecessary panache, which many of his counterparts succumb to. Random House Audio does not dump in musical interludes or tracks of noise that ultimately distract the listener. All in all, I found the production solid, and wish more audiobooks used this simple approach.
No bones about it, I feel dissatisfied. I know numerous people have enjoyed this story of love, time, and what if... but I didn't. Too much of the narrative felt like we were floundering about in deep water. And while I can certainly appreciate what is happening between the lines, what the reader is being exposed to, it never took hold with the type of immediacy previous Murakami works have possessed. And for me, Murakami needs that sense of immediacy for his style of writing to fully impact the reader. When it is missing, the story ends up having the flat feel of reading a grocery list, all the items constitute the list, but none of them distinguish themselves as interesting. (less)