The Good: Gone Girl has received a lot of buzz and excellent reviews for its deliciously cynical take on marriage in the modern age, its real surprises for the reader, and its quick, but smart prose. (My favorite review was Laura Miller’s at Salon, because she compares Flynn to Kate Atkinson and Tana French, the two mystery writers I admire most.) I listened to Gone Girl, drinking in its 19 hours and 11 minutes in just a few days.
I’ll add that Gone Girl is an excellent crossover candidate—teens will find it shocking, scary, and new. It could lead to a postponing of the average age of marriage to 37 or never.
AudioEffects: Two narrators—Nick and Amy Dunne—tell Flynn’s story and audio producers wisely chose two readers to recreate the novel in audio form. Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne are a perfect fit for Amy and Nick—they sound as young and smart and cynical as the characters they portray. It’s a first-rate audio production.
19 hours and 11 minutes (and worth every second)
I am not going to lie to you: Of the three celebrity memoirs I listened to this week (the others being Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns)), Andy Cohen’s Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture was my favorite.
The Good: Andy’s recounting of his work in television and encounters with celebrities—reality and real—is so nerdily good-natured and enthusiastic you can’t help but get caught up in his stories. Like Mindy Kaling’s, Andy Cohen’s childhood was idyllic and television-filled, leading him as an adult to really go for his dreams of becoming a star. And, considering the fact that the Housewives are my television weakness, Andy’s stories of the Real Housewives made my day. Finally, unlike Fey and Kaling, Cohen isn’t reluctant to dish just a little bit about the people he’s met and worked with over the years.
AudioEffects: Andy reads his story with enthusiasm and, well, a lovable dorkiness. The most fun you’ll have all year.
Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture is a way-too-short 8 hours and 32 minutes long.
The second celebrity memoir I listened to this week was Tina Fey’s Bossypants. This acclaimed memoir has won all sorts of awards including the “Audie” for Audiobook of the year. I knew I was in for a treat and had high expectations for Bossypants.
The Good: Tina’s recounting of how she and other female comics made their way up through the traditional route for comedians (clubs, Second City, SNL) fascinated me. She managed to convey how difficult it was, while at the same time praising some of the male comedians who helped her on the way. I also loved her descriptions of and justifications for being a working Mom. And, needless to say, the Sarah Palin chapter is an excellent time.
AudioEffects: Can you beat Tina Fey reading Tina Fey? Probably not. She’s smart and fast and everything you’d expect from seeing her on tv.
5 hours and 32 minutes
I’ve listened to three celebrity memoirs in the last week while cleaning up the flotsam and jetsam of a semester gone by, catching up on medical exams, and while occupied with other like clean-up tasks.
I decided to listen to Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) on the recommendation of my much younger sister, who assured me I’d like it despite my disinterest in all things Office. She was right—Kaling’s memoir is fun and her voice engaging.
The Good: I l especially liked Mindy’s descriptions of her childhood. She somehow makes being a well-behaved, privileged, smart kid fun and interesting.
AudioEffects: Mindy is an excellent reader of her own story. Her breezy tone carries one along through multiple loads of laundry.
4 hours and 38 minutes
I love the epigraph to Anna Karenina (Мне отмщение, и Аз воздам, Vengeance is mine, I will repay) because it gives the reader a lot to think about. Who is “I,” first and foremost? God? Tolstoy? Karenin? Anna?
The oft-quoted opening sentence to Anna Karenina, however, does little for me as a reader. The sentence reads, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I will never understand the appeal of this sentence and why it is quoted so frequently. It’s not even remotely true.
What say you?
Written the last time I taught “Anna Karenina,” a few years ago…