Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Audiobooks reviews

A bit past due, but most recent audiobooks reviews are:

War and Peace - a grand novel and Tolstoy was a fine military historian and does a fine job arguing that Kutuzov deserves a great deal of credit for the successful repulsion of Napoleon from Russia. In audiobook form, it is often difficult to keep track of the characters and I'd be wondering "now which one is Dolokhov and which one is Denisov? The final epilogue is odd, I guess it's an argument that all power comes from God, but the long philosophical discourse was why the skip track function on CD players was invented. Tolstoy should have kept to characters & military "what ifs". It's been years since I read Anna Karenina, so would be curious to listen to it again. Always thought it was a better novel - too many ball scenes in the beginning of War and Peace - but there was a valid critique that i read on Amazon. Anna's story was interesting, but Levin's was not. Recall blowing through the Levin scenes pretty quickly when i read the novel as part of my Russian Lit class.

Life - Keith Richard's autobiography was overall entertaining. Interesting touch having 5 different readers (some modification from the book book as Keith thanks his friend Johnny Depp for being willing to read). Funniest scene was the accidental setting on fire of some bathroom curtains at the Playboy mansion in Chicago while he & bobby k were stoned out of their gourds. A few too many drug scenes overall, but some good music insights - did not know of "5 string open tuning".

Frankenstein - another novel that i hadn't read since high school. Shows how movie memories can replace the written page. I thought that the novel ended as some movie version (can't recall which) with Frankenstein jumping into the creature and forcing him through the boat window into the Artic Ocean where they then presumably freeze to death. Instead Frankenstein just dies from his exertions and the creature then goes off for self-immolation. Another part that i did not recall is the creature's monologue of what he had been doing that took up almost 1/7th of the novel. In actuality, Frankenstein is a novella masquerading as a novel (a bit like To Kill a Mockingbird in that respect) the first two CD's had too much of Frankenstein's early life/deciding on what he'd do; the creature talks at length about reading three book including Paradise Lost - gives Shelly a chance to expostulate on great works of the western world, but some of the discussion of Plutarch was frankly boring. The creature was far more articulate than is usually seen in the films.

The Fountainhead (first 5 CD's) - sometimes the characters reactions to Roark are forced, but Rand does a good job of pacing the novel and is good in her introduction of many of the characters who become important later: Dominique, Gail, and Ellsworth are all off stage when first introduced, other characters tell stories about Gail and Ellsworth, and Peter reads a pan of one of his houses by Dominique before actually meeting her, which is a clever way of drawing your interest to the characters. Ultimately you care about the characters and are willing to forgive some of the novel's flaws such as beating her points into the ground about "great men". It is funny what one will remember from a novel read close to 40 years ago - i recall how Roark wanted the commission that ends up as his first big job & how he wins the job by drawing over the bastardized sketch of his original plan, but i thought that both took place on the same job instead of the first scene being a flunky at Peter's firm and the 2nd scene taking place with some firm that you never hear of again. Will give final review after listening to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" which came surprisingly quickly.

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