Legal disclaimer: I have never listened to an audio book before. I have never read a John Grisham book before. I have never read a courtroom/legal booLegal disclaimer: I have never listened to an audio book before. I have never read a John Grisham book before. I have never read a courtroom/legal book before. I am not a lawyer. I do have some good lawyer jokes though.
With all that out of the way let me say I enjoyed the heck out of this audio book and it served me well on long car trips.
Right off the bat Dennis Boutsikaris does a very nice job with the audio portion of this audio book. He has a nice cadence, great inflections, and does a wonderful job giving each character their own voice. I could tell who was speaking in a long conversation just by the speech patterns he was using. I think his Chicago accent would occasionally stray into a Bostonian accent but it wasn't very distracting. Boutsikaris was a great voice for this and I was pleased by the quality of his contribution.
As for the book portion of the audio book, Grisham presents the reader/listener with a very colorful cast. From the grumpy Oscar Finley, to the hustling Wallace "Wally" Figg, to the earnest David Zinc, to all the many supporting characters we come across there is more than enough personality to go around. Grisham does a great job having the characters play off against each other and giving relationships a deep sense of history. I really liked how Grisham crafted the characters and relationships, making them all feel very natural and real.
The story was also a lot of fun. Instead of just focusing on the courtroom drama of a major litigation, the vast majority of the book detailed all the out of court maneuvering by the mass tort bar, the tiny firm of Finley and Figg, and the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the questionable drug. It was fascinating to see how these sorts of things play out, how opportunistic the lawyers in question were, and strategy the corporation used to defend themselves.
But beyond the legal drama, this was a book about people. We learned and sympathized with Oscar's marital troubles, we got to know Wally and his challenge to stay sober, and we got to root for David as he cast off the golden shackles of a giant legal firm for the uncertainty of street law. More importantly, we got to see some of the other law they practiced and what drove them as people. I greatly enjoyed how the characters and story lines interwove themselves and was left with a very satisfied feeling as all the loose ends were (logically and reasonably) tied up by the end.
All in all this was a great first audiobook for me. I was constantly engaged, laughed out loud many times, and found the story lots of fun. The audio was great, the book was great, it was all great!...more
Texts from Jane Eyre takes a nice poke at some of literature's greatest characters and works, re-imagining them in a world with texting. Ortberg doesTexts from Jane Eyre takes a nice poke at some of literature's greatest characters and works, re-imagining them in a world with texting. Ortberg does a lovely and loving job magnifying the flaws of great literary characters through this medium. Here are some of my favorites:
Medea: anyhow so to SHOW YOU how soft my feelings are I got you guys a wedding present!!!... Glauce [Jason's new bride]: oh! you must mean the box that came on Thursday Medea: yessssss I TOTALLY MEAN THAT Glauce: it's a dress Medea: It's a wedding dress Glauce: thank you I mean, I already have a wedding dress picked out but this is very sweet Medea: do you know what you should do though you should put it on you should put it on your skin and wear it for just a minute (be sure to put it on your skin) :-):-):-)
Medea: I sent you guys something Glauce: I don't think we have anything Medea: look outside Glauce: it's another box Medea: THE BOX IS FROM ME (are you surprised) Glauce: a little bit how did you know where we live Medea: i mean how does anyone know anything right you should open the box right now Glauce: it's a cake Medea: for your wedding! so just go ahead and eat some right now to make sure that it's normal and good for the wedding and tell me if you like it!! Glauce: Medea Medea: are you eating it how does it taste Glauce: Medea I'm not eating this cake Medea: oh sorry can you not eat processed flour i should have asked do you have allergies Glauce: Medea I'm not going to try on the dress of eat this cake Medea: why not??? Glauce: you know why they're both full of poison Medea: whaaaat Glauce: the cake is black and the icing ate through the box Medea: how would poison even get in there Glauce: the dress caught on fire that's how much poison was on it Medea: well i'm going to i'm going to have a very stern talk with that seamstress ill get you another present to make up for it Glauce: please don't
Rudyard Kipling: I'm bored Let's shoot something Friend: okay What Rudyard Kipling: i don't care a tiger or a Boer Friend: what was that last one? Rudyard Kipling: I mean a bear Friend: oh OK Rudyard Kipling: haha must have been a weird typo it's illegal to hunt men but exhilarating Friend: what? Rudyard Kipling:I said it was illegal and also execrable execrable was the second word I said
Enjolras: where are you? Marius: I am so there this barricade is going to be an absolute HAPPENING you guys don't start without me I am on my way in like five minutes Enjolras: Marius I'm concerned that you don't really understand the reason for our movement MArius: oh my god what do you mean Enjolras: I sometimes question your commitment to the cause Marius: how could you possibly even question that Enjolras: I don't know Marius maybe it's because you have missed every one of our clashes with the police because you were still studying for the bar Marius: to bring down the system from within! Enjolras: Marius your father is a baron He's an actual baron Marius: well only a Napoleonic baron Enjolras: That's still a baron Marius: well when you say it like that
Jake: Brett Brett did you get that picture I sent you Brett: I did, yeah Jake: the picture of my penis I mean Brett: yes Jake: Brett guess how much of my penis I still have left you know after my accident after my penis accident Brett: I don't really want to play this game, Jake Jake: come on, guess Brett: I don't have unlimited texting these messages are kind of expensive for me Jake: I'll give you a hint it's definitely SOME
Holmes: this is quite a puzzle, Watson Watson: damned right, Holmes hell of a puzzle what I want to know is how did the vicar know the archbishop's Pekingese had developed an immunity to snake bites? Holmes: there's only one thing we're missing only one thing we need that will help us solve this case Watson: we need to question Lady Emily again Holmes: no, Watson Watson: oh it's not ... Holmes: COCAINE, WATSON Watson: ah Holmes: we're going to need loads of cocaine SCADS of it
As you can see no cow is sacred and there is more than a little truth in these portrayals (especially Marius, man do I loathe that guy).
I will say that, even though I am somewhat well read, there were many references that went right over my head. Overall though, this was a brisk and entertaining read. I would certainly checkout a sequel if one was written and if you are familiar with the classics you will also enjoy the heck out of this book....more
There is so much I want to say about this book. It is so jammed packed with interesting ideas and characters that there are a million places to start.There is so much I want to say about this book. It is so jammed packed with interesting ideas and characters that there are a million places to start. Perhaps I’ll just get the crude and vulgar out of the way first.
The world of Jennifer Government reads like an Ayn Rand wet dream. Corporations have free reign in what is called the United States of America but actually comprises North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and the British isles (of, for you George Orwell fans out there, Oceania). The government makes Nozick’s Night-watchman state look like Soviet Russia and even most basic services are provided by companies.
The teacher jotted something in his folder. McDonald's sponsored schools were cheap like that: at Pepsi schools, everyone had notebook computers. Also their uniforms were much better.
But all is not happy go lucky in this Capitalist Paradise. Where the government does not have a monopoly on violence, those that deal in violence are attracted to the highest bidder. A corporate Cold War is on the verge of heating up, and in this case the customer isn't always right.
The battle lines have been drawn. Every Team Alliance company is in competition with every Team Advantage company. Every customer who flies T.A. airline will buy a computer from Compaq instead of IBM. Boeing is with us because otherwise United Airlines won't buy from it.
With this as the backdrop we are introduce to a wide cast of characters whose threads eventually get entangled with each other and much bigger events.
John Nike (because in this world you are your job, or at least your last name is your company) is what John Galt would be if Ayn Rand had a halfway decent editor. He condenses Jon Galt’s (in)famous ninety page radio speech into two paragraphs that absolutely represent the spirit of the age:
Look, I am not designing next year's ad campaign here. I'm getting rid of the Government, the greatest impediment to business in history. You don't do that without a downside. Yes, some people will die. But look at the gain! Run a cost-benefit analysis! Maybe some of you have forgotten what companies really do. So let me remind you: they make as much money as possible. If they don't investors go elsewhere. It's that simple. We're all cogs in wealth-creation machines. that's all.
I've given you a world without Government interference. There is now no advertising campaign, no intercompany deal, no promotion, no action you can't take. You want to pay kids to get the swoosh tattooed on their foreheads? Who's going to stop you? You want to make computers that need repair after three months? Who's going to stop you? You want to reward consumers who complain about your competitors in the media? You want to pay them for recruiting their little brothers and sisters to your brand of cigarettes? You want the NRA to help you eliminate your competition? Then do it. Just do it.
He is a ruthless, amoral, sanctimonious, asshole and thrives in the world corporations have constructed.
It's my job to increase sales. Is it my fault that [killing kids to create buzz] was the best way to do it? If Government had the muscle to enforce the law, it wouldn't have made economic sense, but they don't and it did. this is the world we live in. If you don't take advantage of the rules, you're a sucker.
If it doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it, isn’t connected to a board of directors, or wear a short skit, he isn’t interested. He is pure id in the empire of id.
Jennifer Government, the book’s namesake, is a bit rougher around the edges, hemmed in by Government limitations that prevent her from seeing justice done. In order to pursue a murder investigation she has to convince the victims' families to pony up money for a budget.
"The Government's budget only extends to preventing crime, not punishing it. For retributive investigation, we can only proceed if we can obtain funding."
She is a but rough around the edges and nicely fits into the loose cannon cop trope while still delivering both a softer side with her daughter, and a more interesting backstory than most who populate the trope.
In a way, Jennifer felt bad, busting into such a nice place in full riot gear and scaring the crap out of everybody. But in another, more accurate way, she enjoyed it a lot.
The world itself is quite dystopian. All the places in the USA are homogenized (be they LA, Australia, or England). The overwhelming cultural impulse is to do anything to get ahead, to get yours and to hell with other people. People have internalized this to the point where that commit immoral actions (child abduction, murder, assassinations, etc) or suffer psychological breakdowns when they finally burn out. It is a culture driven by consumerism and consumption at the cost of overseas workers, the environment, and our shared humanity.
Thankfully things like this:
The cheap roads were clogged, even at six-thirty, but he was only four blocks from a premium Bechtel freeway and that was eight lanes, two dollars a mile, and no speed limit.
Well, at least emergency services will never devolve into this:
"Sir, I need to know if the victim is part of our register. If she's one of our clients, we'll be there within a few minutes. Otherwise I'm happy to recommend-" "I need an ambulance. I'll pay for it, I don't care, just come!" "Do you have a credit card, sir?" "Yes! Send someone now!" "As soon as I confirm your ability to pay, sir. This will only take a few seconds."
(Goddamnit world, this book was not supposed to be a how to guide!)
Anyway, doomsday prophesying aside, this was a very fast read. Chapters were just a few pages long and the action jumps among a wide cast of characters. The writing is sharp (see below for some of my favorite quotes) and Barry does a great job bringing this Calitalizm nightmare to life. I did think the ending was a bit lacking, much like Lexicon (link to review), but I greatly enjoyed this book in spite of this. If you like economic dystopias or just think the setting sounds fun then by all means check this out.
Also, if you are feeling ambitious, start and run your own nation at Nationstates, a site affiliated with this book.
Now, without further ado, fun/horrifying quotes:
Companies were getting a lot tougher on labor contracts these days; Hack had heard stories. At Adidas, if you quit your job and your replacement wasn't as competent, they sued you for lost profits.
"I want to commandeer your vehicle for Government business. We pay three hundred dollars per hour of use, plus any necessary repairs. Also, you have the satisfaction of knowing you've helped prevent crimes in your community." "Three hundred up front?"
Companies claimed to be highly responsive, but you only had to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize that wasn't true.
There was no place for irony in marketing: it made people want to look for deeper meaning. there was no place in marketing for that, either.
There are lots of other brilliant and funny lines as well, you should read it and see them for yourself! ...more
I have often felt that web-comics (such as Digger) really embody the idea that "If you want to sell something, you have to give it away for free."
WhenI have often felt that web-comics (such as Digger) really embody the idea that "If you want to sell something, you have to give it away for free."
When I first encountered Digger (I can't recall where), only the first 75ish pages were available for free viewing. At the time I was following plenty of other free web comics and didn't think it was worth paying for. Sure it was a pretty interesting story of a no-nonsense wombat getting magically transported to a land very far from home and her quest to return there, but I didn't think it was good enough to pay a subscription fee for it.
Fast forward several years and I stumble across Digger again, now free to view as the artist (the amazing Ursula Vernon) was closing in on the ending.
Sufficed to say I was captivated by the story, the art, the characters, the message... really everything about it. The black and white art is gorgeous and masterfully used. The characters come alive off the page and feel just as real as any character in a book I have read. The world Vernon has created was saturated with amazing and novel ideas and creations (such as the mythology of the Hyena tribe).
But what I thought was most endearing about the Digger series was the many positive messages it conveyed (loyalty to friends, respect to others, proactive attitudes to solving problems, not to mention a kick-ass female protagonist). I think one of my favorite pages, not just from Digger but from any web-comic, dealt with morality, amazingly and concisely explained.
This series made me laugh, cry, and think. It also made me rush out to not only buy all the books, but also support a kickstarter that got all the books published in one glorious hardcover. Remember what I said before? The only way to sell something is to give it away for free and boy did Digger achieve that with me. I cannot recommend this series highly enough. ...more
Fun little book of cartoons outlining just how much cats can be bastards. As a cat (demon?) owner myself I can attest to the accuracy of most of thisFun little book of cartoons outlining just how much cats can be bastards. As a cat (demon?) owner myself I can attest to the accuracy of most of this book. Thankfully my cat (harbinger of doom?) does not go outside so I have not enjoyed the gift of dead animals on my birthday. Really quick, but entertaining read. Inman does a fun job illustrating his point in a variety of ways: charts, comics, lists, tables, etc. Great for coffee tables and cat lovers....more
This was a really fun, light read. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the book's treatment of a person with Aspergers Syndrome, but you definitely getThis was a really fun, light read. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the book's treatment of a person with Aspergers Syndrome, but you definitely get into the head of the main character (Don) and see he is wired very differently from most folks. We see Don get challenged, change, grow, and reflect on himself throughout all the highjinks that ensue when he gets mixed up with a very unconventional grad student.
What appealed me to most about this book (apart from the many instances of humor) was how reflective Don was. The book took time to run through his line of thinking when assessing the social pitfalls he encounters and why he behaved the way he did. By the end of the book you can see just how much he has changed for the better.
Like I said, this is a light, humorous book, but it does an excellent job treating the subject matter (mostly the vagaries of human relationships) in a very serious manner. Through Don's unique perspective we get a fresh perspective of how people behave with and towards others. I eagerly await the next installment from Simsion....more
Fun little coffee table book about the history of weapons. Nothing too heavy, each weapon gets a short description, some humorous passages and a pictuFun little coffee table book about the history of weapons. Nothing too heavy, each weapon gets a short description, some humorous passages and a picture. Good to pick up if you find a few spare minutes during the day and surprisingly extensive. The book covers a good chunk of the world and most of human history up to 1900. Note there is a fair amount of profanity so it may no be age appropriate for younger readers. Definietly a fun little book with some nice information and good wit....more
Really fun, silly, quirky story. It takes place in an alternative Ununited Kingdoms where magic exists (but is fading) and a powerful prophecy foretelReally fun, silly, quirky story. It takes place in an alternative Ununited Kingdoms where magic exists (but is fading) and a powerful prophecy foretells the slaying of the last dragon. Caught in the middle of all this is a (almost) 16 year old indentured servant who runs a wizard service agency and manages a colorful cast of magic users.
Don't expect Shakespeare here, but do expect a rollicking good time. The characters are a well written, the world is very developed, and the story is quite engaging. Overall a very fun, quick read for those looking for some lighter fare in their book rotation....more
This book was roughly 99% fluff and 1% message (which itself was remarkably banal and pedestrian). This book may have been better in audio format, butThis book was roughly 99% fluff and 1% message (which itself was remarkably banal and pedestrian). This book may have been better in audio format, but as written word it mostly came across as Ellen's random thoughts. Which is a shame because she has lived a very interesting life that would have been fascinating to read. Instead we get a somewhat forced stream of conscious. Not worth the time I invested in it....more