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January 30, 2014 / Leslie

Rapid Reviews: Andrew’s Brain, After the Quake

rapidreviewslogo1Rapid Reviews

One of my goals for 2014 is to write my reviews soon after I finish a book, but sometimes I don’t have a lot say. I know if I liked it and why or why not, but sometimes I don’t want to do a detailed analysis of the book, just a quick review. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. And if I wait too long to write, it never happens.

At the end of December I used a quick mini-review format to catch-up for the year and the response was favorable. As a result I’ve created a Rapid Reviews format.

January Rapid Reviews

Andrew’s Brain by E. L. Doctorow

Andrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow

Publisher: Random House Audio | January 2014
Format: Audio CD | 4 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate

Speaking from an unknown place and to an unknown interlocutor, Andrew is thinking, Andrew is talking, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that have led him to this place and point in time. And as he confesses, peeling back the layers of his strange story, we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves.

It becomes apparent early on that Andrew is talking to a psychiatrist or therapist and is most likely an unreliable narrator. He feels responsible for awful things happening to other people, is quite self-absorbed and often refers to himself in the third person. His stories are scattered and non-linear and told in a stream of consciousness style. This technique doesn’t always work for me but in this book it was perfect for the character.

This was an odd but interesting little story. It started out confusing but became more compelling as Andrew continues to reveal information. His stories get more entertaining and outlandish, and I wanted to know more, especially about what happened to his wife. I ended up listening to the entire book in one day but at only four hours long, it’s more novella than novel. It’s very well written and good choice if you’re looking for something a little different.

Audio production: The author does his own narration reading in a soft manner that accurately portrayed the confused and unreliable Andrew. Although I had no trouble following along, some readers might prefer print because of Andrew’s stream-of-consciousness story-telling.


After the Quake by by Haruki Murakami

After The Quake by Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Random House Audio | January 2014 (1st pub 1999)
Format: Audio CD | 4 hours | Rating: 2½ stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate

The six stories in Haruki Murakami’s mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

Each of these short stories have one thing in common, the 1995 Kobe earthquake. All of the characters are affected in some way by the quake but not necessarily directly. It could be through a friend or relative, but for each it has disturbed their life in some way. Other than that connection, the stories are very different and in a few stories the quake is only mentioned in passing.

I generally enjoy short stories but I like to come away with some understanding of what happened. These were very fairy-tale like with vague or non-existent endings leaving the reader to decide what really happened. I didn’t want to work that hard to understand a story, so while the writing was very good the stories didn’t do much for me. After only a week they are already fading from my mind.

Audio production: Narrated by Rupert Degas, Teresa Gallagher and Adam Sims. All three are capable narrators and were pleasant to listen to.

Source: Review copies provided by Random House Audio
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Leave a Comment
  1. cleopatralovesbooks / Jan 30 2014 1:38 pm

    Love the rapid review format you’ve used.


  2. irene / Jan 30 2014 2:11 pm

    Love the format, I too don’t want to work that hard at the end of a storyline. Thanks for your thoughts.


  3. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jan 30 2014 6:18 pm

    I hear you – sometimes there is just not a lot to say 🙂


  4. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Jan 30 2014 9:01 pm

    only 4 hours each? I would have expected these were longer than that. Like the format Leslie.


  5. stacybuckeye / Jan 30 2014 9:14 pm

    I can listen to a Doctorow book in four hours ?! Sign me up!


  6. Suko / Jan 31 2014 6:11 pm

    Andrew’s Brain sounds very good, although the sheer self-absorption of the main character would bother me. I think I’d rather read a novel by Haruki Murakami. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about these audiobooks, Leslie.


    • Leslie / Jan 31 2014 6:54 pm

      The writing was good on all of the Murakami stories, I just get frustrated when I don’t understand the ending. As for Andrew, yeah, he was more than a bit ‘full of himself’! 🙂


  7. Arti / Feb 1 2014 10:00 am

    Thanks for these succinct reviews. I saw the Doctorow book in the library. I think I might look for the audio cd version as you said the author recorded it himself. I like that. I think an author is the best person to interpret (in voice) a book.


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