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  • gilwilson 7:27 PM on April 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: angst, , , , , jake hart, novel, , ron currie jr   

    Audiobook Review: “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: A Novel” by Ron Currie, Jr. 

    flimsy

    “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: A Novel”
    by Ron Currie, Jr.
    read by Jake Hart
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Listening Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes

    I’m really not sure what attracts me to these mopey, bitter stories of accidental success, but by gosh and by golly they are fun to hear. Okay I guess that was a bit of a spoiler, so, sorry, but the telling of this story is what makes it interesting and worth the investment not the final outcome, which I haven’t really given that away, yet.

    The story behind this novel which may or may not be true, is that the writer, Ron can’t seem to cut a break. In a tale told through a drunken haze with a story that is not unlike those told by Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahnuik, Adam Davies or even some Hunter S. Thompson. A little bit of the bizarre thrown in with some real life emotions and that’s what sucks you in to this plunge into the darker side of an author’s mind.

    Ron, the character in the book, just cannot catch a break. To start things out the woman he loves does not love him back. This woman, Emma, is willing to see him as a friend and actually a friend with benefits. They do have sex on occasion, but the sex is a combination of love-making and boxing matches. Emma has constantly eluded him and when her house is burned down after a divorce, the burning house contains the latest manuscript Ron has been trying to finish, Ron decides to escape. Throw in the recent death of Ron’s father and this leads to Ron relocating to a tropical island where he soaks his grief in rum and picks fights with the locals, all while writing about his love of Emma.

    Eventually Ron drinks himself into a stupor, writes a suicide note and tries to take his own life by driving off a pier into the ocean. Notice I say, “tries.” He wakes up on a beach with the tides and currents washing him out of his car and ashore. Heading to a bar after being on the beach a day or so, he wants to start his drinking again. When no one recognizes him, Ron decides this is the time to make a fresh start, acquiring forged documents he makes for himself a new identity and leaves society behind to be alone in the desert of Egypt.

    In his absence from the world his suicide note goes viral thanks to a probing reporter and the manuscript he was working on gets published. The world soon becomes enthralled with Ron Currie and his love story. Many people commit suicide, all pushed by the love that never can be and Ron’s heartfelt story. All this happens without Ron knowing. He is, after all, living a secluded life in the desert working for a small restaurant catering to tourists. After some time of trying to find himself by either floating in the Red Sea or seeking solitude in the desert, Ron finds some peace but can never shake the love that can never be.

    After some time Ron is discovered and deported back stateside. Upon arrival he finds not a welcoming fan base to his new best-seller but a country mad at him for deceiving them, he’s supposed to be dead. This brings out massive lawsuits and Ron is forced to defend himself and his actions. The problem is, he can’t, he feels responsible for the suicides and feels he should be punished.

    Without rewriting the entire book in this review, that pretty much sums it up, but there is so much more. This book, to borrow an idea from “Shrek,” is like an onion, many, many layers. Well worth the time reading but even more worth the time listening. The book is written in first person from Ron’s viewpoint and the reader, Jake Hart, does a superb job representing the angst and anger from the author’s life.

     

     

     
    • khurshauthor 3:54 PM on April 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Good review. I, too, liked the philosophical onion layers about love, death, and the ‘singularity’ Currie presented. I liked the way the book was presented in short un-labeled chapters. It kept me turning pages. He kind of lost me at the fake death/posthumous fame twist, though. Took me out of the relationship between him and Emma I was just starting to understand. I liked Charlotte, and was sad to see her dispatched. Keep it up, Gil. T.

      Like

      • gilwilson 8:28 PM on April 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        having listened the audiobook i didn’t know they were unlabelled chapters…that explains the long ramble sound of the book

        Like

  • gilwilson 3:40 PM on December 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , john shea, jonathan tropper, , , novel, ,   

    “One Last Thing Before I Go” by Jonathan Tropper 

    onelastthing

    “One Last Thing Before I Go”
    by Jonathan Tropper
    read by John Shea
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 8.5 hours

    I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into when I picked this audiobook to be my next to hear. Sure the synopsis on the cover tells of Drew Silver, a drummer formerly with a one hit wonder band, who is struggling to get by after a failed career and a failed marriage, is confronted with a life or death situation opts out of the life portion. I thought really I was going to hear an audiobook about a former rock star’s romp through his days as if they were his last. I couldn’t have been any more wrong. What this book turned out to be is an emotional romp through life and its many surprises.

    Let me start out by talking about the reader, John Shea, his voicing of Silver, subject of all this life affirming novel, is beautiful. Silver is pretty much a laid back person, who knows he’s screwed up a good chunk of his life and is ready to move on, but Silver has a deeper part of his psyche that John Shea is able to bring out in this performance. Shea not only brings Silver to full three-dimensional life but is also able to deliver the audiobook and all its characters to the listener in such a dynamic that pulls them into the story and won’t let them escape. All the emotions in this book, which pretty much runs the gamut of human emotions, are brought to life through the expert vocalizations of John Shea.

    The surprising part of this book is the use of wit and humor to get through some of the toughest events that are emotionally trying. While the humor is not laugh out loud funny, although, there are some of those moments, it is just the right amount to make these characters come to life and be much more real and, well, human. Jonathan Tropper is able to create the dialogue that never seems fake or contrived. All conversations are very real and when dealing with the situations the characters are put through feel very natural.

    Some examples of the emotional ups and downs are when one of Silver’s friends admits he’s been going through chemo without telling anyone for weeks and then wishing he had a relationship with his son, Silver and friends take him on a road trip to try to take amends. On the road trip they find out the reason the friend is estranged from his son is that he slept with his son’s fiance, now wife. All the twists and turns in the story come out to an ending that leaves you guessing and yet feeling fulfilled.

    The gist of the story is that Silver, former drummer for the Bent Daisies, is struggling through life. The Bent Daisies had one hit, which Silver wrote, and then the lead singer strikes out for a solo career and becomes very successful. In the meantime, Silver gets by, barely, on his royalty checks, playing in wedding bands and for bar/bat mitzvahs, and by donating sperm for scientific experiments.

    Silver also has failed at being a husband and father and after 15 years of living as a divorce in an apartment full of mopey older divorced men, he’s become pretty cynical. His wife is about to marry a man who Silver can’t seem to make himself hate, he tries, but he knows this guy, a Surgeon is good for his ex-wife and daughter. His daughter, Casey, who has never really been a part of his life, due to his own fault, comes to him in a time of need. She’s 18 and pregnant. She tells him before she tells her mother, because she cares less about letting him down. After some heartfelt discussion, he agrees to be there for her no matter what decision she makes.

    Casey decides on an abortion and Silver takes her to the clinic, just as they are filling out papers and waiting, Silver suffers a stroke. Before I talk more about the story, I have to say that Jonathan Tropper’s description and all of Silver’s inner dialogue are pure genius in giving an outsider a view of what is going on in Silver’s mind at the time. In fact all through the book Silver’s inner dialogue (which due to the stroke become accidentally spoken aloud) are beautiful descriptions of the past present and future for Silver.

    Silver wakes in the hospital with Casey worrying over him. As he awakens the doctor, who also happens to be his ex-wife’s fiance, explains that he has a tear in his aorta and that the stroke was caused by the clot from this tear loosening and hitting the brain. Silver needs an operation to repair the tear or he will die soon. Silver says that’s all fine, but he won’t be taking the surgery. This is when everything goes haywire. Silver begins voicing all his thoughts aloud, constantly stating his fears and regrets aloud. Silver decides to make the best of the rest of his short life, but the rest of his family are set to convince him to get the surgery. Silver’s father, a Rabbi, asks why does he choose death, to which Silver replies, “It’s not that I choose death, it’s just that I don’t choose life.”

    Through some strange misadventures and life affirming events Silver finds what in his life he’s been missing, and not until the very end do we find out whether or not he will take the surgery and even then it’s an insightful end. Poignant, witty, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time is what makes this book a great read.

     
  • gilwilson 9:49 PM on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alan goldsher, , , , beatles, , , , , , , , , novel, paul is undead, , , , , ,   

    “Paul is Undead” by Alan Goldsher 

    “Paul is Undead”
    by Alan Goldsher
    read by Simon Vance
    published by Blackstone Audio (2010)
    Approx 8 hours

    As the kids say, “OMG,” I am still giggling thinking about this book and I finished it 2 days ago.  “Paul is Undead” has got to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.  This book is written in the format of the many biographies of rock stars in that it is a series of interviews that tell the story.  This time though the story is not the story we all know as the rise of The Beatles to the “Toppermost of the Poppermost,” a phrase used by John Lennon throughout the book and the definition is not fully understood until the very end.

    In the tradition of all the horror mashups that have been released recently, (e. g. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and “Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters,” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) Alan Goldsher gives it a go, mashing up the supernatural and the Beatles.  The entire history of The Beatles is retold with The Beatles now being Zombies and wanting to take over the world.   Okay, really only 3 of the Beatles are zombies, Ringo is a 7th level Ninja, of course.

    When you rush out to get this book, I would HIGHLY recommend getting the audiobook version.  Simon Vance does a superb job of not just reading the book but performing it as well.  Vance does his best impression of all celebrities mentioned in the book including the Fab 4, but with more, he does the voice of the Chicago reporter who is writing the book, Mick Jagger, Ed Sullivan, Elvis, Rod Argent, Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Satan and more.  At times I felt as though I were listening to an audio biography produced by Ken Burns (but without the long drawn out scenes.)  Vance had me laughing out loud with my headphones on with his presentation of this already hilarious book.

    The book opens with Howard Cosell breaking in and announcing the attempted beheading of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman.  Lennon’s head is reattached and Chapman is arrested.  From there we go back to the birth of John Lennon when as he came out of the womb he was zombified via the “Liverpool Process.”  The “Liverpool Process” of creating zombies is different from many other zombie creations known around the world.  The “Liverpool Process” produces a super human zombie that can think, has supernatural powers, great speed, can hypnotize anyone, and can tear off and reattach any limb and more.  Oh they still hunger for the gray matter but they can also eat , drink and experiment with drugs, the brain eating is saved for special occasions.

    John then recruits/turns Paul and the duo are unstoppable, George Harrison is turned by Paul because John thinks he is too young.  Stu Sutcliffe doesn’t get turned to a zombie instead after quitting the Beatles he becomes a vampire.  After the three play a few gigs they realize they need to replace Pete Best because they need a drummer who can protect the band.  Enter Ringo Starr, a 7th level ninja, who can turn himself invisible (great subtle joke there).

    Sure they have their problems, after all the world doesn’t quite know what to do with zombies, but they make great music.  Even worse, world renowned zombie hunter, Mick Jagger, is always trying to destroy them.  Rod Argent is accused of riding the Beatles’ coattails by naming his band The Zombies, even though they aren’t undead.  Roy Orbison is a deity of unknown proportion who doesn’t allow Paul to steal his glasses.   Smoking marijuana creates zombie flatulence which creates a purple haze of a more potent material that takes Bob Dylan by surprise.  The Mahareshi Yogi gets dismembered, and finally Yoko Ono a 9th level ninja, has it out for Ringo.

    All the stories are there, from their first Ed Sullivan appearance, the Shea Stadium troubles, and the band playing a concert on the rooftop of Abbey Road Studios, but with the hilarious zombie twist.  For any Beatles fan this book is a must, it will have you laughing throughout.
    Lots of gory laughs to be had.

     
  • gilwilson 9:36 PM on June 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , mark bramhall, naked lunch, novel, , , william s. burroughs   

    Naked Lunch: The Restored Text by William S. Burroughs 

    Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

    by William S. Burroughs

    Read by Mark Bramhall
    Produced by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2009)

    Approx 10.5 hours

    Every so often I have to go back and revisit a classic novel, this time around I was going to listen to “Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs, but I found that there had been a restored text version released which contains sections that were thought to be lost as well as some additional essays by Burroughs. I remember last time I tried to read this I couldn’t quite get through the whole book. There were and still are parts that are extremely disturbing. Burroughs wrote the better part of this book while addicted to heroin and living in Tangiers. The stories/segments really display the torn state of consciousness he must have been experiencing.

    The book starts out fairly straight forward in which a junkie (Burroughs) runs from the police in New York City and heads off across the country to escape and score more drugs. His adventures take us to Mexico City, Tangiers and into a alternate reality location referred to as “the Interzone.” Once he arrives in Mexico things get really weird when he meets up with Dr. Benway. By weird I mean really blow your mind type of weird. The descriptions of junkies using drugs in the not so “normal” way and even taking drugs that are way beyond the norm border on the disgusting. The weirdness hits when the author takes the reader/listener overseas and sexual deviancy becomes extremely disturbing. I did have to stop listening to this book at times just to clear my mind of the vivid imagery created by Burroughs.

    At this point I would like to talk about the reader/Narrator, Mark Bramhall. Bramhall delivers this audiobook with absolute vocal perfection. His raspy voice is strangely soothing and yet some of the stuff he describes are over the top. His ability to do separate voices for each of the characters is worthy of applause not only because of the vocal gymnastics needed but also because of the ability to expose the characters through his voice alone. I’m gonna be looking for more audiobooks voiced by Bramhall, because he is just that good.

    This novel presents a glimpse into the emerging counter cultures of the 1950s and gives interesting insights into how these forces effect the ongoing development of modern society. In one of the essays that Burroughs wrote in the early 60s, Burroughs continues this glimpse by further exploring the idea of treating addicts. His essay should be read by anyone involved in today’s “War on Drugs.” The book was written in a non-linear fashion, in that the reader could pick up and start reading any chapter in the book and not lose the form of the storyline. I found it very interesting that the book ends exactly where it starts with the junkie running away from the cops. The story was brought full circle and at no point did I realize it was headed this way.

    As for the historical significance of the book here is some of the information I found. The book is extremely controversial in both its subject matter and its use of obscene language (something Burroughs recognized and intended), the book was banned in Boston and Los Angeles in the United States, and several European publishers were harassed. It was one of the most recent American books over which an obscenity trial was held. The book was banned in Boston in 1962 due to obscenity, but that decision was reversed in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Appeals Court found the book did not violate obscenity statutes, as it was found to have some social value. The hearing included testimony in support of the work by Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer.

    Sections of the manuscript were published in the spring, 1958 number of Robert Creeley’s Black Mountain Review and in the spring 1958 University of Chicago student-run publication The Chicago Review. The student edition was not well received, and caused the university administration to discuss the future censorship of the Winter 1959 edition of the publication, resulting in the resignation of all but one of the editors. When the editor Paul Carroll published BIG TABLE Magazine alongside former Chicago Review editor Irving Rosenthal, he was found guilty of sending obscene material through the U.S. mail for including “Ten Episodes from Naked Lunch,” a piece of writing the Judicial Officer for the United States Postal Service deemed “undisciplined prose, far more akin to the early work of experimental adolescents than to anything of literary merit” and initially judged it as non-mailable.

    If you do chose to pick up this book I will warn you, reality will be altered and no matter who you are you will be disturbed.

     

     

     
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