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  • gilwilson 5:42 PM on March 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: catholicism, heresy, , , theology   

    City of God: A Novel By: E. L. Doctorow 

    City of God: A Novel516Sn666p5L._SL500_
    By: E. L. Doctorow
    Narrated by: John Rubinstein
    Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
    Release date: 03-04-14
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Having just read “Billy Bathgate” by E.L. Doctorow, I was curious to hear what some of his other books would sound like. For some reason I was under the impression that Doctorow only wrote gangster like stories. This book was the first to prove me wrong. I had also considered listening to “World’s Fair” but went with this one. Maybe later.

    First let’s talk about what makes this audiobook unique. The narrator, John Rubinstein, delivers the story with perfect voice and emphasis. The problem is the story is just so disjointed it get’s boring and tedious. Actually Rubinstein’s voice saved me from stopping after the first few chapters. He kept it interesting and pleasant to hear.

    Not only is the subject matter (religion) difficult to approach but going back and forth between Catholic and Jewish characters, there are times where I just got lost. At first I thought it was going to be one of those who-is-better types of approaches to religion, but that was not the case. Then I thought it was how faiths can get along, but that was not fully right either. To me this book seemed like Doctorow had a few ideas for novels but never finished each and just slapped them together here. There were some nice moments, mainly with the dialogue, but not enough to make me like it.

    “Billy Bathgate” was way better, maybe I should have gone with “World’s Fair.”

    Publisher’s Summary

    In his workbook, a New York City novelist records the contents of his teeming brain – sketches for stories, accounts of his love affairs, riffs on the meanings of popular songs, ideas for movies, obsessions with cosmic processes. He is a virtual repository of the predominant ideas and historical disasters of the age. But now he has found a story he thinks may become his next novel: The large brass cross that hung behind the altar of St. Timothy’s, a run-down Episcopal church in lower Manhattan, has disappeared…and even more mysteriously reappeared on the roof of the Synagogue for Evolutionary Judaism, on the Upper West Side. The church’s maverick rector and the young woman rabbi who leads the synagogue are trying to learn who committed this strange double act of desecration and why. Befriending them, the novelist finds that their struggles with their respective traditions are relevant to the case. Into his workbook go his taped interviews, insights, preliminary drafts…and as he joins the clerics in pursuit of the mystery, it broadens to implicate a large cast of vividly drawn characters – including scientists, war veterans, prelates, Holocaust survivors, cabinet members, theologians, New York Times reporters, filmmakers, and crooners – in what proves to be a quest for an authentic spirituality at the end of this tortured century.

    Daringly poised at the junction of the sacred and the profane, and filled with the sights and sounds of New York, this dazzlingly inventive masterwork emerges as the American novel listeners have been thirsting for: a defining document of our times, a narrative of the 20th century written for the 21st.

    ©2001 E. L. Doctorow (P)2014 Random House Audio

  • gilwilson 5:19 PM on January 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: catholicism, chicanos, , folk healer, hispanic, mexican-americans, ,   

    Bless Me, Ultima By: Rudolfo Anaya 

    Narrated by: Robert Ramirez
    Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
    Release date: 09-17-07
    Publisher: Recorded Books

    Sometimes a book comes your way and just sits there waiting to be read, and then when the time is right you read it when you need it. That’s pretty much what happened here with “Bless Me, Ultima.” I had downloaded the audiobook from the SYNC YA summer reading program and just kept it on my computer for a while. Then while looking for what I thought would be some light fare I decided to listen to this Young Adult novel. I have to say it was interesting to read about someone else trying to determine what is good and what is evil and how to cope with what you know to be true.

    The book follows a young Antonio as he is about to begin school and be separated from his mother for the first time. While worrying about school, Ultima, a sort of folk healer, comes to live with his family. Antonio is expected to become a priest, by his mother. In a community of farmers this will be a difficult road to travel. While he is preparing for his first communion and learning about God and good and evil, his religious background is enhanced by the folktales and teachings of Ultima about his ancestors.

    As Antonio begins to question good and evil things happen in the village that lead Antonio to become concerned for the soul of his father. Ultima also shows him how to break a curse from the town’s witches and learns to save his Uncle. Antonio’s education becomes a pathway that shapes not only his future but his family’s future and his standing in it.

    This book not only tells the coming of age of Antonio, but also gives the reader/listener a look into the society of the vaqueros (farmers) and Mexican-Americans / Chicanos and the blending with European religion and attitudes.

    Robert Ramirez delivers the narration of the book with the perfect subtlety and accent to keep the book interesting throughout.

    Publisher’s Summary

    With hundreds of thousands of copies in print, Bless Me, Ultima has been called the most widely read Mexican-American novel in the English language. Richly evocative, it has earned its place among the classics of modern literature, even drawing favorable comparisons to Herman Melville’s legendary Moby Dick.

    ©1973, 1994 Rodolfo Anaya; (P)2004 Recorded Books LLC

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