- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: October 19, 2013
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00G0E964G
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Guided Tours of Hell: Novellas Audiobook – Unabridged
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The other novella in this book, "Three Pigs in Five Days," is almost three times as long and lacks the concentration of the title story. But it revisits some of the same themes in the friendlier setting of Paris. The protagonist, Nina, works for a much older man, Leo, who edits a travel magazine selling the city to American retirees. She is much more competent and intelligent than she allows herself to be, for she has fallen in love with her boss, and lets him dictate what she does, thinks, and feels. She is "convinced that her whole life, prior to that moment, was a ripped magazine she was leafing through until her appointment with Leo." Leo sends her to Paris on her own, to an abominable hotel run by a former mistress. Nina wanders around disconsolately until she arrives unexpectedly at a private showing at the Rodin Museum, where she has a personal epiphany. "What was sleeping with Leo beside what she'd just experienced, the orgy she'd taken part in, the lustful entwining of bodies and limbs that Rodin set in motion: ecstatic, blissful, unsatisfied still, all these years after his death?"
Leo does eventually arrive, and commandeers Nina for his own agenda, a tour of all the Paris spots associated with death: Cemeteries, the Catacombs, and the Conciergerie, from which the prisoners of the Revolution were taken to the guillotine. Many of these episodes reflect moments in the first story, and Leo is another comic monster in his way. Nina will reach quieter epiphanies that may eventually restore her self-esteem, ending an amusing, thoughtful story that is full of wonderful observations along the way, but is much more difficult to bring to a single focus.
The second is a full length novel that has been unfairly savaged by previous reviewers for being formless, with "thin" characters, unattractive "pathetic" main character etc. etc. Anyone's entitled to his opinion, but I believe these reviewers missed the point. This is an existential story written from the perspective of a woman who is neurotically obsessed with her (older) lover. I think it's brilliantly done. Certainly we know lots of OTHER people who have been in such relationships. Do all romantic heroines have to be heroically self-assertive? What a depressingly narrow range of reader tastes if that is the case! Nina's musings as she flounders in the emotional vortex of her obsessive love for Leo are fascinating and generally close to the mark. Her character is 'thin' because love-obsessed persons are self-absorbed and have a constricted range of expression. That Prose "made Paris boring" is not a criticism, but high praise! The embarassingly simple point is that even the most attractive environment will be sterile and dully malevolent when filtered through the opaque lens of emotional dependency.