The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

Audio CD, 6 disks (6.5 hours)
Published December 15th 2002 by Tantor Media (first published May 10th 1893)

ISBN:1400100682 (ISBN13: 9781400100682)
primary language:English
original title:The Tragedy of Puddn’head Wilson
4 stars overall / 4 stars audio narration

Goodreads Synopsis:
Switched at birth by a young slave woman who fears for her son’s life, a light-skinned infant changes place with the master’s white son.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am reminded as I am each & every time I read Twain just how good he is. This is a tall tale, to say the least, but wholly entertaining and fun. I love the idea of just desserts, and clearly Twain did too, so the conclusion was a very satisfying end to a tale that was complex, exciting & fun.



Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Audio CD, 8 disks (9 hours)
Published September 29th 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover
ISBN:  1594488878 (ISBN13: 9781594488870)
primary language:  English
original title:  Juliet, Naked
literary awards:  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2009)
4.5 stars overall / 4 stars audio narration

Annie loves Duncan — or thinks she does. Duncan loves Annie, but then, all of a sudden, he doesn’t. Duncan really loves Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter who stopped making music ten years ago. Annie stops loving Duncan, and starts getting her own life.

In doing so, she initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they’ve got. Tucker’s been languishing (and he’s unnervingly aware of it), living in rural Pennsylvania with what he sees as his one hope for redemption amid a life of emotional and artistic ruin-his young son, Jackson. But then there’s also the new material he’s about to release to the world: an acoustic, stripped-down version of his greatest album,Juliet — entitled, Juliet, Naked.

What happens when a washed-up musician looks for another chance? And miles away, a restless, childless woman looks for a change? Juliet, Naked is a powerfully engrossing, humblingly humorous novel about music, love, loneliness, and the struggle to live up to one’s promise.

My thoughts:
** spoiler alert ** I thoroughly enjoyed this book…all the way to the end, but what a TERRIBLE way to end the book. The story was fairly well fleshed out, and I loved that Annie really comes into her own at the end, but the abruptness of the ending was definitely a big negative. I kept thinking there had to be a little more, but no, that was it, so the reader is left to conclude what? Sure, Tucker Crowe releases another album that is panned by fans & critics alike, because of the lack of angst in the music. But the “why” of it is frustrating because it remains completely unexplained. Further, since the book was as much (or more) about Annie’s growth as anything else, being left with her simply walking out of the therapist’s office, but without any other definitive action following that, is completely annoying. It wasn’t necessary for her action to be huge, but something more than the “I’m done with counseling, then end” would have been nice.

On the up side, Hornby’s writing is really, really engaging, so I’m pumped to read more of his books.

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Audio CD, 8 disks (9 hours)
Published August 25th 2007 by Brilliance Audio (first published 1920)
ISBN:  1423310888 (ISBN13: 9781423310884)
original title:  This Side of Paradise

4 stars overall / 4(ish) stars audio narration

Fitzgerald’s first novel, reprinted in the handsome Everyman’s Library series of literary classic, uses numerous formal experiments to tell the story of Amory Blaine, as he grows up during the crazy years following the First World War. It also contains a new introduction by Craig Raine that describes critical and popular reception of the book when it came out in 1920.

My thoughts:
Never have I read a more elegantly written novel about…well…pretty much nothing. Amory Blaine – the Romantic Egotist – is consumed with himself, lazy, idle, and bored with everything except his own opinions & women. This is the entire focus of This Side of Paradise, and I am astonished that Fitzgerald could find this much to say about so little. Nevertheless, the writing is witty & clever, and as such makes a spectacularly unlikeable character almost palatable. I enjoyed it, even when I was wanting to slug Amory. There’s something to be said for an author who can provoke that reaction.