firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
I listened to an audiobook edition of Kindred by Octavia Butler. It is fucking brilliant, and really disturbing because it is about slavery and abusive relationships. It is also depressing because it's about unpleasant parts of US history. But that's not the whole story.
lots of spoilers, and if you haven't read it, you don't want to be spoiled about some of them )

There are also notes of hope. Several of the characters who have cross-racial interactions gradually move toward seeing at least some people of the other race as human—that is, similar enough to themselves to attempt communication. I imagine that Butler is saying there is a human urge to see other people as equal humans, and that if there’s enough interaction between people who start out as Other to each other, eventually Similar will start to infiltrate. But there are cultural and historical and personal reasons why, in a slave-owning society, no one on either side can fully replace Other with Similar.

I found Kindred a compelling read in a way that Parable of the Talents wasn't for me.

There's a certain emotional detachment in both books, at the same time that Butler describes some horrific behavior and screwed up relationships. I'm not sure if the detachment I sense is due to the way the audiobook narrators chose to approach the works, or if I would have felt the same way if I read the books on paper. Butler's characters for the most part are survivors, whose response to suffering is to get up and go back to the work of surviving and at the same time following their dreams. So it feels as if some of the emotional hard stuff is diluted or buried in hard work. On the other hand, what this also means is that Butler anchors her stories very strongly in the work the characters do and therefore in day to day living.
firecat: hello kitty reading a book (reading hk)
Here's what I just posted to audible.com about Aegypt (Unabridged) by John Crowley, narrated by the author

5 stars out of 5

slow, meandering, and beautiful
Crowley develops his stories slowly with lots of detail and writes beautifully. His writing and ideas are meant to be savored and pondered. If you like the idea of listening to a 15 hour and 29 minute poem, with another poem inside it, then you might well like this book.

Crowley narrates the book himself, in a flat middle-American voice, with a quirky, slightly self-conscious manner. The narration worked for me. I found his voice easy to listen to, and his reading gave me more insight into what his artistic intentions are. But the narration isn't going to please everybody.
I wrote it this way because the current top review of the book is extremely negative. Some folks on audible.com really don't like slow-to-develop stories, and some folks are fussy about narrators. (Me included, on that last one.) I wanted to describe the experience of listening to the book in a way that would appeal to someone who might enjoy it, and deter someone who might dislike this kind of book.
firecat: vintage typewriter (typewriter)
I'm reproducing my audible.com review here.
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson, read by Peter Jay Fernandez

Kudos to Recorded Books for creating a line of audio books written and narrated by people of color.

Nalo Hopkinson's first novel shows exceptional powers of imagination and compassion. Her ear for dialect is superb (well, based on my limited knowledge of dialect) and the narration brings it alive. I am a little disappointed that the narrator is male, since the author and main protagonist are female, but it's a minor complaint.

Note that as it is a horror genre book, there's a lot of violence and torture.

If you like Neil Gaiman's works, especially Anansi Boys, you'll like this book.
Additional thoughts: Read more... )
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)

This is the first in what I hope to be a set of reviews/impressions of media I've consumed...I figure if I'm going to spend so much time on audiobooks, paper books, and movies, other people might as well know what I thought of them.

I just finished listening to The Cold Moon by Jeffrey Deaver, narrated by Joe Mantegna. I enjoyed it a lot.

Cut for length and minor spoilers )

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