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Not up to his usual standard

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

Reviewed: 26-09-2020

The previous Alan Partridge books have ranged from very good to utterly stellar. This one has some laughs, but the thing that kills it for me is that it's sliced into small segments that have a theme song, This song is funny at first, but after the 70th time you hear it it is utterly infuriating.
If you are a fan, dive in, but it's not at the level of his previous works, not by any stretch.

A not-bad drug trainwreck wrecked by the narrator

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-11-2017

In the well-trodden genre of drug writeoff stories, this isn't bad. Our protagonist has a hugely dysfunctional family, hits the drugs super-hard, goes from high -flying to gutter dwelling, and has some reasonable anecdotes. Unfortunately, the narration is done in a voice that is this sing-song, spoilt kid voice that still seems quietly proud of the level of damage and manipulation she is speaking of. Over time, you start to feel like another person in the lone who she is trying to charm into forgiving her for being a pretty blonde woman with huge privilege who managed to use this to survive, and even gain infamy, from an addictive streak that would have killed less rich, white people in half the time.

Deeply flawed and hard to listen to.

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

Reviewed: 16-06-2017

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

If you dream of a version of Scarface (minus the intrigue, politics, character arcs or explosive violence) as recounted by one of the girls from Clueless (minus the self-aware humor), this may interest you

Would you ever listen to anything by Indra Sena again?

No.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The story opens with the inevitable disclaimer 'this story isn't about glamorizing the lifestyle, I wish I'd never done it, blah blah' then the narrator just emphasizes the depthlessness of the central character with her inflections. 'OMG i gave everyone free cocaine and they liked me! LOL!'// 'OMG I like totally gave cocaine to every guy i met and flirted with them all and like, they all tried to sleep with me OMG how did THAT happen!'// (NB the 'OMG's aren't literally vocalised, they are implied by the delivery.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It shows that you may live a wild life, but it isn't fodder to write a book without some sort of transformation.

Any additional comments?

The author comes across as the same teenage girl she was when all of this happened. The level of glee she gets in retelling stories of how everyone liked her when she gave out free cocaine is galling. She'll be halfway through a story about her excruciatingly chauvinistic boyfriend , and throw in a reference to how expensive her toilet seat was. If you tell a story of the violent ups and downs of a cocaine dealing lifestyle, you want a character arc, some drama, a narrative through-line, and a narrator who doesn't get the words wrong (you don't PURSUE a menu, you PERUSE it).

A mix of earnest sincerity and sly irony

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

Reviewed: 07-03-2017

Would you consider the audio edition of The Partly Cloudy Patriot to be better than the print version?

Yes. Some people dont like Sarah Vowells very characteristic voice, but I'm not one of them. I could listen to her deadpan lilting voice all day - without her intonations, some of this material wouldnt be quite as funny.

What other book might you compare The Partly Cloudy Patriot to, and why?

This is a good example of her more general essays. If you like this, get David Rakoffs Fraud, which takes this sort of writing to the next level, in my opinion.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

As mentioned, I'm in love with Sarah's voice (and perhaps Sarah too?). You want the audio of her work, as she can be in quick succession heartbreakingly sincere subtly mocking, and her delivery amplifies this.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The stories where she speaks of AMerican politics and history are moving for her sincerity and genuine concern, and her takes on more throwaway pop culture (pop-a-shot, Tom Cruise, the Arthouse theatre scene) are playful and surprisingly insightful.

Any additional comments?

This is well worth a listen - check the audio demo first - she has a love/ hate voice. That said, if you want a more focused and polished work (and arent averse to some US history) seek out her Assassination Vacation, which i think is her best balance of personality/ humor/ cultural analysis and politics.

2 people found this helpful

superior and moving 'i used to be drunk' story

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

Reviewed: 07-03-2017

Where does Dry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book sits in the top 25% of the audiobooks i have. There is a danger in the 'i used to be drunk' genre that it turns into an empty shopping list of benders, but Burroughs manages to weave a compelling story from his, and the end left me in tears.

Who was your favorite character and why?

In such a personal story, it has to be Augusten. He doesnt shy away from the damage he did to himself at others, nor pretend that he wasn't blissfully unaware either. He makes reference to his famously hard upbringing, but never milks it for pity. Overall, I walked away with an admiration of the balance with which he told the story and an admiration for a man regardless of him having spent the last few hours explaining the many times he'd screwed up.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The end is great - i wont wreck it, but it spoke to me on a few levels, and avoided the non-descript ending to most books that focus on substance abuse.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As mentioned, the end is particularly good, and some of his recollections of the goings-on in rehabs ad the characters he met were particularly well rendered.

Any additional comments?

As mentioned, the level of narrative and insight in this boook is far superior to the average drunken memoir book. It is deeply personal without becoming a navel gazing excercise and a shopping list of benders - it actually feels intimate and vivid.

1 person found this helpful

Good, but perhaps slightly overstays its welcome?

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

Reviewed: 07-03-2017

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This is a decent book, and one of Ronsons most famous works. That said, for my moeny it is one of the less entertaining ones. The central focus of the work leads to less levity, less breadth of scope, and overall less fun than (for instance) Men Who Stare At Goats, his compendiums of random stories, or even the online shaming book (can't recall the title).

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

This is, much like Louis Theroux, ego-journalism. As such, the only character you walk away with any real sense of is Ronson, as he involves himself deeply in the story rather than standing back and trying to be transparent. This isnt a bad thing per se, he has a likeable style and persona.

What three words best describe Jon Ronson’s performance?

playful, neurotic, curious.

Did The Psychopath Test inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to avoid ending up in a mental hospital, and certainly not to travel back to the past and be hospitalised (although this was never high on my bucket list, i must admit)

Any additional comments?

Ronson is a gifted writer and likeable journalist-nerd-author, and while this book is full of interesting observations on mentla health and humanity, i missed the sense of fun and breadth of subject matter contained in his other books. For my money, his more general collections of essays are the best listens purely for the variety and episodic nature (that lends itself better to listening over multiple sittings without losing track of complex narrative arcs).

2 people found this helpful

bittersweet tales of no longer being young

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

Reviewed: 07-03-2017

What made the experience of listening to The Actual One the most enjoyable?

Isy's delivery and sense of humour keeps a good deal of observational humour and energy in a book that, without this, may have been a real downer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Actual One?

If you are on the wrong side of thirty, you will recognise those moments where it becomes apparent that share houses and parties are giving way to married friends dinner parties and mortgages, for better or worse.

What about Isy Suttie’s performance did you like?

Isy is genuinely likeable - I recognised her from the TV comedy Peep Show, and it seems like she shares a few characteristics with her onscreen persona - cheeky, upbeat, slightly nerdy and thoughtful.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

In middle-age, no one can hear you scream.

Any additional comments?

There are some really nice moments in this book, and it's hard not to like the author and her sense of humour. I dont know if this would resonate with under-30's who are yet to live through this time of their life, but for everyone else its a well-written and performed take on the head games that come with the realisation that you are no longer young and cool.

Malkovich reads one of Vonneguts (almost) greats.

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

Reviewed: 28-02-2017

What made the experience of listening to Breakfast of Champions the most enjoyable?

I'd read this book many times myself, but its been years. As an older, and more disappointing person I appreciated its themes of nostalgia and lost opportunities far more, and the astounding reading of Malkovich ratcheted the experience up many notches.

Who was your favorite character and why?

You have to love Kilgore Trout - the pseudo-profound almost-was that is a very thinly veiled personification of Vonneguts own fearful self-projection.

What about John Malkovich’s performance did you like?

His voice, my god - there is a thoughtful, learned, refined edge to his voice that makes it one of the best voices in existence in my estimation.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The opening of the book, with it's dedication to a lost friend and lost cultural values is playful, deeply mournful, and has wonderful impact despite being very self deprecating.

Any additional comments?

If you appreciate Vonnegut (and no, this isnt Cats Cradle, or Slaughterhouse 5, his masterpieces) and love the voice of Malkovich, this audiobook will push all your buttons. Vonneguts often unadorned prose doesnt always lend itself to reading aloud, but Malkovich rings every last drop from this one with his inflection and style.

the dark side of the culture of outrage

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

Reviewed: 29-01-2017

If you could sum up So You've Been Publicly Shamed in three words, what would they be?

Disproportionate public revenges

Who was your favorite character and why?

THe woman who made the bad taste AIDS joke and went viral - she said one stupid thing and went viral and all hell broke loose - its a side of the story that no one knows, as by the time the damage became apparent, the media cycle had moved on.

What does Jon Ronson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Im ambivalent on Jon Ronsons speaking voice. I love his writing but his voice is an aquired taste at best - think of a fragile english schoolboy tearfully begging his mother for another slice of black pudding and you are halfway there.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was more subtle than laugh/ cry. There are a few gags and funny moments, but the takeaway impression for me was the reality of how much you can damage a person through social media.

Any additional comments?

If you like pop culture/ social media analysis/ personal journalism, then this is well worth a listen. It will allow you to fill in the missing parts to stories that have to some degree become media folklore.

1 person found this helpful

Coogan/ Patridge is one of the premier wordsmiths.

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

Reviewed: 29-01-2017

What made the experience of listening to Alan Partridge: Nomad the most enjoyable?

The mental dexterity of Coogan is amazing - he can find a comic twist or interpretation on the most innocent comment. Lots of very clever and subtle gags throughout.

What did you like best about this story?

Its a great listen if you take it in sections - it unfolds across a journey on foot, so it feels a little like an 'epic' - a wandering anti-hero talking you through memories and observations as he goes. This is where Coogan is best - forget heavily plotted pieces, just sit him down and get him talking and he will come up with gold every time.

Which character – as performed by Alan Partridge – was your favourite?

This question does my head in. Suffice to say, Partridge/ Coogan/ etc is a hilarious and nuanced character.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

My legs are the heroes of walking.

Any additional comments?

If you are a fan of Alan Partridge, this is hours of his best work and worth a listen. Coogan is criminally underrated as a truly remarkable wordsmith.