Where I Got It: Review copy
Narrator: Robin Bloodworth
Publisher: Audible Studios (2014)
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes
This memoir follows the author on his European motorcycle adventure when he is in his early 20s, through his college days, and then his earliest attempts to make a living as a magazine writer and then a real estate handler. It’s nitty gritty, the author not holding back ever on recounting his decisions and life path.
I recently read another book by this author (Brainstorm) and it wasn’t a good fit for me. However, this book was absolutely fascinating and I was a little sad when it came to an end. There’s lots of drug culture and counter culture stuff going on in this book. I don’t get all of it, and I don’t agree with all of it. However, it was so very different from my own life that I was swiftly caught up in the tale. The author became this main character that I sometimes rooted for and sometimes I wanted to kick. I became attached to the story line and was very curious to see how things would turn out.
The first big chunk of the book covers the author’s European motorcycle trip. There’s plenty of drugs, interesting male characters, and women who the author is interested in. He’s exploring life in general, seeing the sites on a dime and meeting interesting people. In listening to this section, I really felt that the author remembers this time with great fondness.
After some few months, the author returns home. The Vietnam war is in full swing and being drafted into it is a very real thing. So, he goes to college to get that draft deferment. Again, there are plenty of drugs, alcohol, and women. In general, college was a joke. Students aimed for a middle grade C in order to stay in college, and perhaps earn a degree eventually. The author and most of his friends didn’t take college seriously. There’s almost a fatalistic feel to this section of the book, like no matter what they do, sooner or later they will be swept up into one of three things: death by drugs & alcohol, the war machine, or the much slower death of conformity.
Eventually, the author has to get proactive about dodging the Vietnam draft. These endeavors take him on road trips across the country, and also mental trips of physical degradation. Both wore him down. After this section, the time line of the tale speeds up. Years or decades go by as the author talks about what jobs he was willing to do once the fear of being drafted had passed. He also keeps tabs on a few friends, goes on a few more motorcycle rides, has a few stints in the hospital, and in general, ages.
Here’s one of my few criticisms of the book. Nearly all the ladies mentioned are merely sex objects. The author’s mom, who has a small role at the beginning of the book, and again near the end is one exception. Also, an old flame nicknamed Betty Boop has a recurring role in the tale, though most of those encounters center around her sex appeal. Late in the book, the author’s wife Rachel (who played a pivotal role in Brainstorm) is mentioned a few times. The book started off with the 20 something year old author and so I could understand raging hormones and all at that during that time of life. However, the ladies never seem to matter much more even as the author ages.
There’s tons of drug culture stuff in this book, which I found fascinating. The author speaks often of how the drug use was a way to expand the mind and become a little closer with the universe, etc. I didn’t really get this. Of course, I had to wonder how small the user’s mind was to begin with, and then I wondered what these ‘enlightened’ folks did with the expanded minds. While both questions went unanswered, I found it very interesting how they repeatedly told themselves this, like it was a justification. Perhaps for some it was. Perhaps for others, it was exactly what they said it was – an expansion of their reality.
This goes hand in hand with the need to not conform, ever. That seemed to be a driving force in the author’s life and definitely added some interesting aspects to the story. First off, there was a whole generation of people who decided they would not conform…. so that kind of created a new branch conformity. Having a standard 8-5 job with benefits was something of a death knell to these folks. It was very fascinating to watch them work so hard to avoid this conformity, and to keep enjoying drugs, alcohol, and free sex. Indeed, I didn’t get chunks of this book, and I don’t agree with all the philosophies woven through the narrative. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating look into someone else’s life. In the end, I simply enjoyed the ride.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost as part of the iReads Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Robin Bloodworth did a great job with the narration. He had a variety of regional and European accents for the tale. Also, his character voices were all distinct. His female voices were believable. He imbued the story with emotion as needed and I really liked how he brought the author’s memoir to life.
What I Liked: Simply fascinating and entertaining; I sometimes rooted for the author and sometimes wanted to kick him; the author’s sense of nostalgia comes through clearly.
What I Disliked: The ladies never really become something more than sex objects, no matter how old the author gets.
Book Description for Brainstorm:
Brainstorm is a first-person narrative of incidents leading up to, through and after a cerebral aneurysm and hemorrhage in the immediate family. The action includes the dramatic process ongoing in trauma centers designed to process sudden occurrence of aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage and morbidity. The American Medical Association estimates that 3% of all populations have aneurysm that may or may not leak—about 3½ million people in the U.S.
While the procedures and protocol for sudden onslaught are rote and fundamentally unchanged over the ages, hygienic and technological advances have reduced hazards. Death and debilitation statistics are still daunting, and Brainstorm factors a new component into the procedural mix, whereby a conscientious and healthy husband and wife seek participation in the process, to no avail.
Buy the book: Amazon ~ Audible
Book Description for 1969 and Then Some:
1969 and Then Some is a memoir of the 60s and the influence of those years over the decades that followed. Romance, psychedelic insight and motorcycling evolve with the narrator maturity, such as it is, and non-compromise on morality and the undying spirit of adventure in nature.
While the 60s is often discounted or as ephemeral—as a social aberration—1969 & Then Some offers keen insight to lingering values that cannot be separated from significant segments of the most significant population group alive today, the baby boomers, many of whom still hold sway in key areas of social and cultural evolution.
Buy the book here: Amazon ~ Audible
Robert Wintner lives and works on Maui with his wife Anita, seven cats and Cookie the dog, who came in emaciated at 14 pounds, unable to stand. Cookie at 60 pounds raises a ruckus on the beach or in the living room in her continuing drive to make the world a happier place. The entire family eats well, stays fit and enjoys good health under blue skies.
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