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Audio Book News
By Jonathan Lowe

January 2009

by Jonathan Lowe

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates With parallels to The Great Gatsby, the revived 1961 novel REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates is now a film starring Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet. As in Fitzgerald's novel, Yates' book, recently re-released in paperback (and new on audio), tracks the disillusionment of the times following a major world war. The time is the mid-1950s, but the suburban angst resonates even today, ever more so as we plunge into a new kind of soul searching brought on by the housing crash. Frank Wheeler wants to believe he and his wife April will be happy in consumer driven suburbia, even with his dull job and their mutual lack of fulfillment. Having started a family too early, they feel trapped, and talk of moving to France, even as they pretend moral superiority over the neighbors. Yet the bitter realization of their entrapment, and of time closing in on their dreams, forces them to lash out at each other, even over trivialities. Soon their fate is sealed. As narrated by Mark Bramhall, whose theater experience brings an elevated tone of authenticity to the denouement, the book is both humorous and tragic. Like all great art, it leaves one pondering the complexities and ambiguities of life. Or in the American Dream. (Random House Audio; 11 1/2 hours unabridged)
Laughing Without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas If you wonder what average Iranians think of us, wonder no more in LAUGHING WITHOUT AN ACCENT by Firoozeh Dumas. In this funny memoir about an Iranian American growing up in Southern California, the cultural clashes inherent between us are all explained with a dry wit and a droll turn of phrase. For example, what's this American custom of a man with a beard coming down the chimney, anyway? Scary. And Americans put melted marshmallows on yams? Why? Dumas endures American misconceptions of Iranians as terrorists too, even as she takes a road trip to Iowa with an American once held hostage in Iran. Then, as a mother, she faces chaos when she removes the television from her house. (Why is her father addicted to The Price is Right, when it's all wrong?) As narrator of her memoir, Dumas entertains as Erma Bombeck might, minus any accent. (Audible; 6 hours unbridged)
Green Living From Dummies by Editors Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, and Michael Grosvenor If you've watched much TV, no doubt you're addicted to excess. Television, after all, is about more and bigger. You're urged to consume in gluttonous abandon at every turn, never mind the environment or your own health. Even high fat, processed junk foods are touted as "healthy fast food," although the additives and chemicals in them require paragraphs of tiny print to enumerate. So what to do, once you've weaned yourself off the boob tube, and entered the real world in time to save it from crumbling around you? Try GREEN LIVING FOR DUMMIES to start. Editors Yvonne Jeffery, Liz Barclay, and Michael Grosvenor find voice in narrator Brett Barry in compiling a wealth of ideas to pinch pennies while improving your health, and the health of the planet. Covered are the uses and abuses of plastics, CFLs, the reuse of paper, jars, (even birthday cards), plus food selection and packaging impacts related to transportation. Also, why you should avoid eating cod and certain other depressed fish stocks; car sharing; electric bikes; buying new appliances; and exercise. If you put this audiobook on your iPod, and go for a hike while listening, you'll be far enough away from the TV, too, so you won't be ordering that deluxe meat lover's pizza expressly forbidden by your cardiologist. (Harper Audio; 3 1/2 hours abridged)
Proust Was A Neurotscientist by Jonah Lehrer Do you believe that science can ultimately solve all our problems? If so, you should listen to PROUST WAS A NEUROSCIENTIST. According to Jonah Lehrer, the more we study the brain, the more we realize how little we know about who we really are. His thesis here is that science is not the only path to knowledge, and that art plays as much a role in understanding consciousness. It's a case of the whole being more than a sum of the parts, because mere molecules and chemical reactions cannot explain what art knows. Lehrer follows Proust, Cezanne, Gertrude Stein, Noam Chomsky, George Eliot, Stravinsky, and even the great chef Escoffier as they discover subtleties of perception which hint at the divine, (or at least at the essence of what it means to experience life). Narrated by Dan John Miller, the audiobook is part biography and part criticism, but its broad approach is appealing in that it makes no case for either art or science being superior. It is about the merging of each into what, again, is a clearer approximation of truth. (Brilliance Audio; 7 hours unabridged)
The Flash: Stop Motion by Mark Schultz What do you get when you combine Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and the Green Lantern? Well, that's the Justice League of America, of course. (Folks we could use right now to fight terrorists, Somali pirates, and the evil forces pervading Madison Avenue and Wall Street.) In THE FLASH: Stop Motion by Mark Schultz, though, the fireballs from space and the forces causing deaths in Keystone City have nothing to do with sociopathic banking CEO scumbags, but rather an evil scientist or creature who can move even faster Wally West. Is it from another dimension? What has our heroes perplexed, anyway? Not without intrigue, this full cast and sound production is dubbed a movie in your mind, and thereby requires imagination (a muscle rarely used watching television). The effects employed to aid plot movement here are diverse and interesting. With a narrator telling most of the story, accompanied by background sound or snippets of music, this is the kind of escapist fiction which the major publishers don't have time to produce, as it also includes 19 actors, each with their own distinct personalities. (Graphic Audio; 6 hours unabridged)
Enough by John C. Bogle Finally, CEOs nab huge paychecks, even as they apply for bailouts. Hedge fund managers score record bonuses, even as the individual investor suffers record losses. In his new book ENOUGH author John C. Bogle decries the recent obsession with speculation on Wall Street. Bogle is founder of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group, and espouses a return to investing for the long term instead of speculating and day-trading. The latter is what has brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, when a perfect storm amassed to beach the sharks, even amid their feeding frenzy. To return to sanity, we need to realize that when our values are in line, we may discover that we don't need more, regardless of the incessant urgings of get-rich-quick schemes that turn out to be a dead end. Read on audio by Alan Sklar, with additional commentary by the author, ENOUGH presents a reasoned, rational approach to life and business, devoid of the hype which Hollywood promotes as the only way to succeed. He explores the errors of speculation on all levels, from commodities futures to complex derivatives, and concludes that no one can know the future, or see the proverbial and inevitable black swan approaching. Bottom line? Shortcuts are for criminals and other losers. Don't believe them. (Highbridge Audio; 6 1/4 hours unabridged)

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