I seem to be going through a 'Fry phase' at the moment, as I've just finished the entire series of 'Stephen Fry in America', watched many episodes of 'Jeeves And Wooster' & have listened to his excellent 'Stephen Fry Presents - Short Stories by Anton Chekhov'. I've even watched his videos debating alongside Christopher Hitchens & have yet to find him annoying, snobbish or arrogant, but rather the model of a renaissance man.
Overall I found this lived up to expectations & moves me one stage closer to wanting to explore his books again (which initially put me off his work). As yet, I'm still to find anything from Fry's second-wind that hasn't appealed & educated in equal measure. Here's hoping the sequel is as good...
P.S. If you want to see reviews of the individual sections, please do a search for 'Fry's English Delight' & it should bring them up on page two. The sections are (in order):
1. 'Current Puns'
Despite what the poor reviews say, this book is not as bad as most people make out.
Yes, it has the typical Dan Brown flaws - poorly verified facts, a tendency to be glib and a mostly predictable plot. Still, there are enough twists to make it an interesting yarn and some good charactors.
I also absolutely love the epilogue where Ensei Tankando's dad has to bury him - it reminded me Theoden in the Two Towers. The depiction of the obnoxious little punk is also quite good, and you almost feel he deserves his fate (almost...)
Anyhow, if you're after a bit of light listening / stg for the trip to work, you could do worse than this book although do try 'Angels and Demons' 1st...
Can't beleve how good Hitchhiker's Guide is an audiobook, (given first impressions of the film)!
Somehow it taps into precisely that opposite sphere of the brain to the one used while driving and gives it loads of interesting titbits to mull over. The production is superb and only 'The Mighty Boosh' is really comparible for sheer imaginative vividness.
This particular episode includes the 'Cricketer' robots (who attack everything in sight), the starship Bistromath (runs on the mathematical principles of a restaurant) and that famous bit where the villain sugests that the, should the universe be explained, it will be replaced by something even more bizarely inexplicable (some say this has happened already).
Furthermore, it stars the inimitable Richard Griffiths and a man who knows the question to the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
Definitely recommended listening!
Fantastic - a true muse of fire, crammed with so many ideas and such comedic brilliance that it is practically bursting at the seams.
All the others seem lame in comparison (which they aren't), like Charlie Chaplin's WW1 films - an ariadne's thread for all his other ideas.
If you haven't listened to the Primary Phase, don't just watch the film or read the book - it is essential that you try it on audiobook download, as it was ground breaking in its time, and still flawless in the present.
All in all, this is an essential audiobook, which has had profound effects on popular culture and is a Bible for anyone seeking to make headway (while avoiding cliche) in sci-fi, comedy or any pop culture field. Listen and be enriched!
Having seen 'Jeeves And Wooster' and been disappointed by it, I thought this would be similar - samey and slightly nauseating. However I was wrong - this audio book is one of the most polished I have ever listened to, with good production, enunciation and a compelling narrative.
The first section is Stephen Fry reading Daudet. Daudet is a little like a French Dickens, although with a little more charm and eccentricity (Nikolai Gogol is probably a better comparison.) The stories are based around his windmill and consist of various emotions from sad (Girl Next Door) to comic (The Man with the Golden Brain). Most of the tales are light hearted and all are crammed with a certain French ethos that makes them memorable.
The second section is Hugh Laurie reading Jerome K Jerome's 'The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow'. Though I haven't read 'Three Men in a Boat' (shame on me!) I found these tales were very easy to get into and consisted of Oscar Wilde-esque observations about Love, Food and life in general. Just as Daudet is quintessentially French, so Jerome is English.
With a keen eye and a sharp wit, this section is soothing in its empathetic spirit and leaves you calm as an Idle man on a long summer evening in Kent.
To conclude, these two readings are well worth purchasing and not just for the narration. They are perfect for a long car journey and are true treasure of their kind. If you like these, do try P.G. Wodehouse or 'St Petersburg Tales' or, better still, leave it as one of those unique Ariadnes threads to cheer a dull evening.
The first thing that struck me about this audio is that they are different to the book. Not only are they abridged but the language is changed to emphasize different points & to be more palatable to the ear. With reading the book, a lot of the stuff flew over my head (e.g. Cholanoflagellates) & I'm glad such things are abridged here.
The second is the presence of Lalla Ward, who seems to cover the large quotations Dawkins often uses in his works & also seems to read the more technical (or rather more mundane) parts of the tales. Having listened to the whole of Origin of Species, I am thankful that the narrator varies a bit as occasionally Dawkins can read things as known that are unknown to his wife (& so read differently).
In terms of content there is still the rich variety of tales (including my favourite: the Duck-billed Platypus) & I can only recall a few interesting Gambits which have been left out (e.g. Eve evolving 40,000 years before Adam & the Paedomorphosis of Man story).
My one criticism is that the Ancestor's tale is very detailed & involves lots of left-brain work. If you are listening to this in a car (or even typing a review!) then it is hard to fully follow the reasoning. Maybe this is because Men can't multi-task, but I'd be bold enough to suggest that even women may find this difficult...
To conclude then, audio books are often overlooked as a medium & it is to this one's credit that it is adapted to the ear, just as the book is adapted to the eye. If you know of anyone who hasn't read the book then I'd suggest giving them this as a starter, and the hard backed version of the book (with its shiny pictures) as a main course. As one of my fellow reviewers says: 1 copy of this book should be given to every member of mankind, to put the doubts about evolution to rest. Whatever you can do to play your part is to your credit.
Having listened to 'Pole to Pole' & 'Full Circle', as well as watching various bits of his programs courtesy of the history channel, I thought this particular one would be another case of Mr Palin using a tawdry, overly ambitious idea and not much enjoying the result.
However I was wrong! As this was supposedly his first expedition it has that wonderful virgin territory quality and has all the joy and very little of the occasional malaise of his later trips. The sheer happiness Michael finds in visiting India and China (which he'd never visited before) and his teasing, slightly mocking tone towards Phileas Fogg's own experiences make this book an absolute joy to hear.
And the best thing? Because this was recorded when the author was predominantly a comic actor and not a travel writer, it has a wonderful humour to it that helps the trip seem a breeze.
My one criticism would have to be the music. It is good, but is repetitive and slightly too long to be a pause in the text. This is fine initially, but by the end you have to keep fast forwarding to skip them.
Anyhow, as an audio book for a car journey, this is one of Palin's best; combining both his skills as a comic and as a traveller in perfect balance. Oh and, if you like this, do try A 'Piano in the Pyrenees' or 'Long Way Round'...
In their style of writing, certain books complement certain venues - two examples being Dawkins' books for coffee shop reading and Michael Palin's books for holidays. Having listened to many audiobooks in my travels to & from work, I have found few better than the Emperor series for keeping my attention and yet not requiring me to know every detail of the plot.
This particular one was the first one Robert Glenister narrated and it is amazing how, even early on, he has a talent for the voices and a skilful clear narrative. The plot may be a little slow at first, but that is typical of biographical novels, and the action that begins on the third part is well paced and compelling.
Since I have heard all but one of the rest of the series before this one, I would recommend this audio download on its own merits as a good foundation to build the rest of the series on (though the order of reading is not especially important). The Emperor series make for brilliant and engaging adventure novels which help long journeys go by like a breeze!
BBC Dramatisations are funny things - they are often well produced, but the subject matter is either modern controversy-for-controversy's sake or an overwrought historical piece. Rarely do you get something that is skillfully acted, with a good story and that is a notable classic.
Happily, this Audiobook is all three, with the excellent Tim McInnerny (Captain Darling in 'Blackadder') as Odysseus, Amanda Redman as his long-suffering wife and many other well portrayed characters aside. The narrative flows well and creates convincing audio-landscapes which only go to prove that scenery is always better in your head!
My one criticism (to echo the 4 star reviewer 'Reeves') is the accuracy of the narrative. To make for an interesting story, the characters have been altered from what they should be, and the text itself (being a dramatisation) is not the same as the book. However, the story is fairly close to Homer's original intention, even if some of the narrative and personalities of the actors are a little different.
To conclude, this dramatisation is fantastic if you want to get a good impression of a classic story of the ancients. It is clearly no substitute for reading the real thing but, sometimes, things such as these can make subjects accessible to study, when previously they felt like swimming in treacle! I certainly have found this audiobook helped me appreciate a story that I would not have fathomed in other ways.
So, if you want some good listening for the car, then look no further than this book...
I suppose I didn't know what to expect from this audio book. I was half thinking it'd be some outdated storyline from way back in the day, which would seem corny & cliched.
How wrong was I! I should have known from the recent film that this would be a good book, but I thought maybe they'd used artistic licence. On the contrary, this book IS the inspiration for the film - it has so many elements and such depth that it transcends its time & comes almost as scary as it did in its day (we have Chuck Norris now... ;))
In terms of the download, the case wasn't ideal, but the gloomy voice of Sean Barrett really chimes with the storyline & the story breathes with a certain ethos. And the best thing is that, 6.5 hours long the recording is completely unabridged.
Overall, I'd thoroughly recommend this download to anyone seeking to 'cheat the classics' by the wonder of audio. This book is still inspiring due to its timeless characterisations, its plot & the thoughtful nature of its prose (e.g. the Artilleryman's rant).
So, well worth it & if you like this one, then try Bill Bailey's audio rendition of 'Moby Dick' - it's equally Dark & Bleak, is not quite so clever, but still brings home the goods...
2009 is a year where the airwaves are saturated by documentaries about the bicentenary of Darwin's Birth. Combine this with the over-exposure of Richard Dawkins as (arguably) Britons most famous intellectual, and you may see a product that has nothing new to offer and which will not enlighten you afresh.
However, if you haven't read the 'On the Origin of Species', then this audio download is the perfect eye-opener. From the suggestive arguments of the start (artificial selection), through the sweeping poetry of the middle sections, to a prophetic conclusion, the whole of this audio download conveys the argument well making you realize (in the words of the intro) 'how much he got right'.
Blend this with the harmonies of Dawkins' oratory, and you will find a work that is a classic of popular science rendered with high explanatory value by a reader who conveys the meaning of every syllable.
Especially notable sections are where Dawkins reads how '[Natural Selection is] immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art' and also the section at the end about 'Light being shed on the origins of man'.
My one quibble with this work is that it is not especially light listening. Although it is well written & read, listening is not the ideal medium for this book (especially when commuting...) However this can be forgiven considering the depth of understanding created by seeing Darwin in the light of one of his modern disciples.
Overall, I am very glad I bought this book and happy to recommend it to all and sundry. Although it was written 150 years ago, and the voice of Dawkins can be found across the internet, the combination of these qualities creates something new of old things. I promise you that, in using this download, far from being bored, you will be moved anew by the power of evolution.
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