If I only I’d seen this sign before Election Day.
If I only I’d seen this sign before Election Day.
Title: Sleepwalk With Me
Publication Info: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2010.
Summary/Review: Stand-up comedian, monologist, and This American Life regular Mike Birbiglia writes about his life and sleepwalking issues in this collection of autobiographical essays. In the early going, I was disappointed because these were the same exact stories I’ve heard before but lacking the same resonance they have when you hear Birbilia’s voice. Later on, the book improves as the written form of his storytelling gets better for less familiar stories. If you like Birbiglia’s work in stand-up, storytelling, or even his upcoming movie you might like this book. On the other hand, he may just work better in those other media and this book is extraneous.
p. 102 – “Data entry is a fascinating job where you .. type … in … data….that’s been…written on something else. You can press tab and jump from field to field, and you need to remember to capitalize proper nouns like people’s names and their streets. The first ten minutes of data entry fly by, because you’re really getting the hang of it. The remaining seven hours and fifty minutes go a lot more slowly, because you glance at the clock after you finish every entry. Data entry is the white-collar equivalent of potato peeling.”
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Title: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Publication Info: Scholastic Paperbacks (2008)
Summary/Review: Another audiobook I downloaded based on title alone from the public library and one that shows that Young Adult literature is far ahead of grown up fiction for imagination and creativity. Alcatraz Smedry is a teenage orphan with a talent for breaking things who learns that he is from a heroic lineage and must rescue his inheritance – a band of sand – from the hands of the evil librarians who secretly control the world. The deadpan delivery of Alcatraz’s satirical narrative is greatly enhanced by reader Charlie McWade. I found it a hilarious send-up of fantasy/sci-fi conventions yet at the same time sneakily getting a few messages in as well. If you don’t like at first, at least stick around for the dinosaurs.
(Looking at Library Thing, I’m amused that many of the reviews are by librarians. Most of us like it. Don’t tell the evil librarian in charge.)
Recommended Books: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.
Author: Symphony Space
Title: Selected Shorts: Lots of Laughs!
Publication Info: Symphony Space (2005), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Summary/Review: This collection is something I downloaded randomly from Overdrive and it was suitably entertaining. There are seven stories and they are all read – or performed – in front of a live audience reminiscent of the storytelling on the Moth Podcast. Stories include:
1. Subsoil by Nicholson Baker Read by Thomas Gibson
2. Farrell’s Caddie by John Updike Read by Charles Keating
3. Jamaica by David Schickler Read by Isaiah Sheffer
4. Chivalry by Neil Gaiman Read by Christina Pickles
5. Nachman from Los Angeles by Jhumpa Lahiri Read by David Rakoff
6. On the U.S.S. Fortitude by Ron Carlson Read by Laura Esterman
7. Fatso by Etgar Keret Read by John Guare
My favorites include “Jamaica” where a man gets his head stuck in the banister and has to sit in on his wife’s book club and “On the U.S.S. Fortitude” about a doting mother raising children on an aircraft carrier (Esterman’s reading of the story probably improves the story concept a hundredfold).
Recommended Books: Best of Modern Humor by Mordecai Richler and The John Cheever Audio Collection by John Cheever.
I love the Count. I love archives humor.
That’s two, two great things I love about this comic!
Ah ha ha ha ha ha!
I have a brilliant idea for a new reality show.
PBS, make it happen!
After helping a friend move from Waltham to Arlington yesterday, it occurred to me that there are certain things that happen every time somebody moves around here.
Author: P. G. Wodehouse
Title: The Inimitable Jeeves
Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks (2000), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Two things marred my enjoyment of this otherwise fine collection of Wodehouse stories. First, the audiobook narrator employed an obnoxiously high-pitched voice in his characterizations of Wooster and Jeeves and with little nuance or finesse at that. Second, I’d seen many of these stories performed by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in the TV series, and for some reason the first way I hear a story always feels like “the right way.” Silly thing, I know.
This book collects together several short stories and weaves them into a single narrative to create a pseudo-novel. Almost all of the stories focus on Bertie’s friend Bingo who is constantly falling in love serving as a satire for the overly-romantic. All of the stories capture the foibles of the decadent leisure class of aristocratic England and gambling is frequent. My favorite part is when a contest is established to bet on which of the local pastors will preach the longest and most boring sermon.
All an all, an entertaining if not great work, probably better read than listened to.
Author: Nick Hornby
Title: Juliet, Naked
Publication Info: Riverhead Hardcover (2009)
This novel is about three people: Duncan an English man-child obsessed with an American singer/songwriter who abruptly quit show business in the 1980s, his long-suffering girlfriend Annie who is realizing that she may never have children, and the retired musician himself Tucker Crowe who is trying to raise his six-year old son after failing to be a good father to four other children. Annie & Duncan break up after Duncan’s infidelity and at the same time a review Annie posts on Duncan’s internet message board attracts the attention of Tucker. Annie & Tucker develop an online correspondence and soon – surprise – he has reason to visit England.
This novel has a lot of the same themes of Hornby’s other works – music, geeky obsessions, muddled relationships, parenting, and recognizing one’s own mortality. I really couldn’t get into to at first because the characters were annoying me especially since they kept talking about a fictional musician. 80 pages in, when Tucker finally appears, I started to warm up to it. For all his flaws, I like Tucker for his relationship with his young son (albeit if that son doesn’t seem to act 6 years old). But then the book just falls apart with far too many unlikely happenings and the characters not responding in a real way but more like sitcom characters.
Yes, I’m harsh on this book. It is an entertaining, quality brain candy read. On the other hand I know Hornby is capable of much better.