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Hermes

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no complaimts

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-09-12

I am enjoying this series, plus it is a vast improvement over the generally female-interest British journalist Netflix specials.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

I felt like a real human being listening to this

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-09-10

I am listening to the person as much as to the story.  I had to buy this after I heard the sample of Ocean Vuong's voice writing a letter to mother. I was crushed. I had to hear more. I had to take it slow, in small pieces and in private because hearing the words I couldn't walk. I had to kneel weeping. At first. I couldn't bear it but this grieving son had to have his sadness. At least it's real and I felt close to my mother hearing Ocean. Every son loves his mother. Maybe because of this book I was able to the second time release the last of my  mother's crushed bones in the river.

By 'performance' I mean narration: 5/5. I thought the author-narrator was a woman until the story progressed. It didn't matter. Ocean's voice is perfect for the subjects.

By 'overall'  I mean the writing: 5/5. Poetic. Believable. I am there. Even if it isn't a true story it has to be true. Co-incidentally, I lost my mum to the anguish, frustration and fear of dementia. Then the raw slow grip of death. I will never know what part her doctors' prescriptions for anti-psychotics and many years of oxycodone played.

By 'story' I mean content: 4/5 This book is not gay literature and I hope the author refuses to accept any such writing awards of that label. It is about a man's coming to terms with who he is, about his relationship with his lover, and his respect for his gramma and his mum (who has a character fault - so did mine, whose doesn't and who doesn't?)

The only reason I took off one point is because the graphic descriptions of sex and sexual attraction. Even if affectionate more often than raw (there is only  one truly  'get down and dirty' episode, a small minority of the book), well... how to put thus honestly and respectfully...  as one psychiatrist from Montreal points out, sexuality isn't about 'preferences' so much as it's about the clear line, the disgust factor. For me, it's any cocks in the story other than my own or a sympathetic protaganist doing the fucking with a female (get used to Anglo-Saxon vulgarities mixed with Latinate high-brow in the book too).

But more that than I couldn't see the appeal of macho Trevor, even for Ocean. But, mostly just the details of Trevor's body and sex I could do without. Yet, that wouldn't be fair. The author is the author and this is his genuine experience. It has been a few hundred (thousand?) years of men who aren't the slightest bit interested in breeder couple love-making scenes in movies. They too must have been squirming or like myself ignoring it all ir trying hard to appreciate it on some level. They haven't been throwing up all over the place. So, lesson learned. 

The good news is that sex is not the overwhelming part of the book, but it *is* a significant part so I had to as if change my mental gears to neutral and focus on the emotions which could be anyone's, including my own. Ultimately, with all the sex, it's still a love story, of desire, seduction, play, pleasure and loss. And from a male perspective - so I can certainly relate to it better than a formulaic female romance novel.

And although on the level of feeling the following didn't bother me, intellectually/ politically it did: the boys are 14 and 16 at the beginning of the story (something like that). I am happy for them. But not completely. I am in fact envious. Why?


Where is the fiction or literature with erotic elements written from the POV of a young girl and her lust and love for her slightly older barely of-majority male (or for that matter, female) lover? Whenever a few works appear there is outrage from the academy and censorship from sponsors. Effectively, statistically, such a genre doesn't exist!   Now, obviously I  don't blame the author for social standards (and double standards in law) but it still bugs me - that this erotic aesthetic that skirts the edges of propriety is accepted in the homosexual world (and by heterosexuals of the homosexual world) but not by heterosexuals in the heterosexual world. There is a double standard in life as in art. I am guessing that there is also tolerance for these kinds of stories among lesbians. Maybe it is something as prosaic as straight men don't read. But I think there is more to it. And more sinister.

Conclusion: get over it and congratulate the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

anger without humour

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-08-31

writing: 1/5
narration: 3/5
content: 1/5

I liked Joan Rivers of the 1970s and 1980s. She was great in interviews during the 1990s - spontaneous and breaking taboos. But this collection of 'jokes' is just vulgar and nasty. Worse - it just isn't funny! I got to chapter 32 out of 50 and gave up. I heard about three things that made me smile.

What's not to like?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-08-09

Only on chapter 19 of 25, and already I conclude that for me, 'Dying Inside' is a keeper. The writing and narration are excellent and the story very good.

Novel concept and I totally relate to the protaganist. As bizarre and arrogant as it sounds, I feel as if I wrote this book. His elementary school report card echoes ny own. I have no clairvoyance, however, as an aging man I do, to turn a phrase of my own, also take a long time to make the wrong decision.

I was surprised to discover that the author alo writes science fiction. This is not.

My favourite of last ten books from Audible

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-08-06

Perfect writing, exvellent vontent and agreeable narration for this non-computer type concerned about computer security and privacy. 'Performer' speaks a litle fast, but at 85% no voice distortion. I was surprised the writing and narration were so top class, as if the author was reading his own book (someone else was - a true professional) and the writing style perfect for the content.

Concise (OK, a little repeating to remind of a long previous chaptet's point), short exact descriptive sentences; and many datrs and brief consequences of security breeches. While providing many examples of the worst offenders - China and North Korea, he doesn't pull any punches about Amerika either.

Despite rating this book highly I have only one 'criticism', more of a 'consider this perspective' really - although "Kill Everyone..." is both as comprehensive as it can be for a general audience it is less a technical book than a social/political one. As an ex-libertarian I cringed at some of the author's suggestions for State oversight of the internet and software. Never the less he makes very convincing arguments for industry self-compliance (yeah, right) and legislation. He is clearly left of center and no friend of the free market - because well, we can't afford to continue with such a system. The costs are too high.

This book seems to be targeted to voters, politicians and persons in the computer industry. Never the less, I recommemd it even if you the 'reader' are not.

more crime than sex

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-07-29

This is a crime biography. Somehow I was expecting something more along the lines of Journal of Sexology or Penthouse Letters. Very little about the business of sex. Nothing on sex, which indiduals liked what and disliked what. Much more on the Madam's relationships (with her series of spouses, problem customers, cops etc than with the working girls). Too many unanswered questions such as...

1. How much was fellatio in terms of purchasing power of the dollar at the time?

2. How did management deal with STDs, pregnancies (abortion?) and non-paying customers?

3. Were rates by the hour or by the 'shot'?

I got through 19 of the 22 chapters hoping the content would become more entertaining or as a helpful guide to running a successful bordello in say a certain Nevada county today. It didn't. I will look for the academic study on Storyville that detailed working girls' class and family backgrounds, data such as youngest and eldest, and expected earnings but even that probably doesn't get into intimate facts.

Was Madam just a rehash of the subject's diaries? I get the impression that MADAM was written in a time and place where the author was concerned about obscenity charges if she made it too salacious. Also, that the targeted audience is middle-class women, not the ilk of myself, an insider associate of the publisher of Mac Horn's 'Gentleman's Guide to Southeast Asia' (a sex tourism handbook - look up the author's interview on 60 Minutes).

The narrator I found nasal and mediocre. The writing didn't catch me by its directness (not) or eroticism (not). Some of the writing is even purple prose. But worst of all the content was boring. I don't care about the Madam's garments or interior decoration of her sequential houses of prostitution in the French Quarter and beyond. The biggest content was about her relationship with various policemen and police chiefs. And the drama of her personal relationships. Yawn.

The only interesting part to me was how the Madam dealt with police in her efforts (and very successful ones) to stay in business. I am reminded of the motto from my many explorations of the lokalisasi of Indonesia in the spirit of the original Moon Guides...

"The only thing worse than a corrupt policeman is an incorruptable one."

And curiously she doesn't discuss Louisiana culture (it is a special place, the only part of USA I would retire in after many years in S.E. Asia - for one it is less Protestant) except in one story about an evangelical client of one of her room renters (unclear exactly what the arrangement was in terms of her 'cut', another disappointment). The hooker refused his business because he had an STD, which could only have been caught from his wife. In my extensive experience with prostitutes, most are conventionally religious or at least (and unlike their customers) have conservative values. They are wanabee housewives not nymphomaniacs. The author does mention this in passing, how the dream of many was to find a 'catch'. Yet there is close to zero 'getting into the head' of the sex worker, or even that of the Madam. Lacking many quantifiable facts either, I give a thumbs down to this book and am returning it.

Enlightening

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-07-27

Will add more later (gardening now!

By 'overall' I mean the writing actually
By 'performance', yes I mean narration
By 'story' I mean the content

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Fabulously 16th century tales, plus timeless comed

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-07-20

This classic is not just comedy, there are stories within the main story, particularly completely serious moral tales. At half way through much is about the conflict between Christian and Islamic cultures. I wasn't prepared for this, having previously read only an abridged edition.

Forty years ago I read two books of which the imaginative stories never failed me: Ramayana by Valmiki and Man of La Mancha by Cervantes. 'Classics' doesn't do them justice. The best in religious mythology and the latter in secular satire. And still neither bested.

This translation of 'Don Quixote' is even better, the narrator perfect and I smile my way through the episodes of the endearing lunatic.

some chapters (e.g. 27, #28 in chapters) are not frivolous at all. This chapter is a detailed example of the depression of grief. Others concern a husband testing the fidelity of his wife (to a bad end) and Christian slaves escaping servitude on the Barberry coast.

Mohammed and a bunch of other crazy charcters

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-07-13

I bought this to hear the "high-flying cranes'" quote. This pre-Islamic goddess part of the Quran is mentioned in the book, but is certainly not the best part. Better is the retelling of numerous episodes in the life of the warlord-prophet who for some reason is transparently renamed 'Mahoond' even though those episodes are *obviously* about the famous personage. Likewise, central locations - Mecca and the Ka'ab are renamed. Better are the Indian and British of Indian descent characters in their upper middle class lives . Plus I liked the modern character who turned into Pan. Also South Asians dealing with racism in Britain (were the cops really so evil?) However, my absolute favourite part was the lengthy bits about 'hijab' (curtain), a brothel where the prostitutes took on the names of Mohammed's wives as a kind of fantasy of the powerless. Mohammed is portayed during the Meccan period sympathetically, with affection really, but as he becomes meglomaniac his own policies mock him. I do not know the Quran, Sira (biography of Mohammed) or Hadith well enough to know whether this is Islamic history or the author's imagination, but many sound familiar (such as the poet 'Baal' satirizing him and Mohammed's teen wife Ayesha being accused of impropriety.

The narrator is excellent when doing Indian and British accents, not bad at Caribbean, but horrible at most others, especially the totally unconvincing Canadian one and the American accent somehow bugged me.

The weakest part for me though wasn't the story being all over the place - Arabian peninsula and England, the moving back and forth from the seventh century and current (well late 19880s presumably). In fact I liked the 'two stories in one'. But the story just didn't grab me compared to say Faulkner or Robbins.

Rushdie's writing style is clever. Yet I am not sure I really like the story itself. I will try one of his other books such as 'Midnight's Children' which I saw as a TV (BBC?) version and DID like the content - a story set in the partition.

I got my money's worth of this American master

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-07-08

I have listened to maybe 10 of these three dozen or so short stories. I sampled the beginnings of each story (unless it was difficult to bear the narrator). If I liked the voice (several of my favourites herein) and could relate to the subject and character(s) I pressed on - so to speak.

Chapters 12 & 13: barber favours child of the small town and when she grows up, he marries her

Chap 30: Frustrated spinster enlists her boyfriend to murder her gramma

Chap 31-37: Freedom-loving heroin addict

Chap 38: Negotiating damages by trade

Chap 98-104: Old lady's life insurance for coffin (while she lives)

Chap 104: Wife of settled artist is annoyed by his hospitality to vagrant poets.

And a couple of others too. Now that I have skimmed I will go back and try a few more. Faulkner I was introduced to by satires by The Onion and John Malkovich in The Ogre ('96). He's right up there with Steinbeck and London. I am late in life discovering the greats of American literature. Price per judiciously placed word, this collection is a great deal! My only complaint is that unlike at least one of Steven Pinker's book the chapters are just numbers.

from Mistral (chapters 137-141)...

" And so he looked at her," Don whispered, "he had to sit across the table from her, say and watch her. Knowing she had no food of her own and that it was his food that was doing it. And not for him changing. Watching her eating the food that made her change from nothing and becoming everything. You know, girls, they are nothing, and then they are everything. You watch them become everything before your eyes. No, not eyes, it's the same in the dark. You know it before they do. It's not their becoming everything that you dread. It's their finding it out after you have long known it. You die too many times and that's not right, not fair. I hope I'll never have a daughter."
'That's incest,' I whispered.
"I never said it wasn't, I said it was like fire, like watching the fire lean up, in a way rushing."
'You must either watch a fire or burn up in it, or not be there at all. Which would you choose?'
"I don't know, if it was a girl, I'd rather burn up in it."