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Audio Book News
By Jonathan Lowe

AUG 2012

by Jonathan Lowe

David Lebovitz is a pastry chef and cookbook author who in THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS details his experience in moving to Paris, long a dream of his. Talk about culture shock...his arrival and settling in is met with frustration as he attempts to get his tiny apartment painted, establish a bank account, get a refund, and find a public restroom...things which seem easy in America, but are almost impossible in France. Don't be surprised if someone cuts in front of you in line in Paris, since if you leave more than an inch of space between you and the person in front of you, you are actually inviting it...meaning the person behind you is actually touching you. Need change? Good luck. Need to pee? Hahaha. Not unless you buy a drink first. Except customer service? Guess again. The French love to eat slowly, and they respond to complaints likewise. If you are fat, they will mock you openly. If you are uptight about sex, you've got a lot to learn. This book, narrated with an American perspective in mind by David Drummond, is a witty tour around the City of Lights, tongue firmly planted in cheek. Don't leave for Paris without it.

THE STORY OF EARTH by Robert Hazen, as read by Walter Dixon, is a broad brush all-encompassing history of the Earth over four billion years. It's an ambitious project that to young-Earth creationists would be labeled a "tour de farce." If you believe the Earth is only 6000 years old, as many Christians contend, this is the book you need to hear. Not only will you be overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary, but you'll learn about how chemistry and geology support the other sciences in arriving at timelines. Good luck debunking practically everything here, clocking in at ten hours on audio. Which is easier to believe (in accordance with Occam's Razor): that God created the universe with apparent age at every conceivable level to fool mankind in order to maintain a literal interpretation of Genesis...or to believe that Genesis was allegorical, written for people at that time to understand, and that the Big Bang (which science cannot explain) was the original and only act of Creation? Just a thought. The book is not about religion, per se, it is about evolution in all its forms. (God cannot be proven to exist by science, either. That is faith.) Where scientific evidence is lacking, as with the alternate contention that the dinosaurs died due to volcanism, such theories are stated as theories, with reasoning that is not put forth as conclusive. Interesting, and not particularly didactic, the book is non-fiction. If you want fiction, try HEAVEN'S WAR, an odd title by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt about what astronomers think is an approaching near-Earth asteroid that turns about to be an alien-controlled robot spaceship intent on kidnapping scientists for a cosmic adventure and rescue mission. Twist is, they need our help. (Can you say "bailout?") Narrator Joe J. Thomas dramatizes the characters with accents and personalizations, but this novel is more about space opera a la Star Wars than anything else. Just more literate perhaps, and for older listeners.

You're in for a treat if you're a fan of Hepburn, as FIFTH AVENUE, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson is a well researched book that not only examines the making of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but it is narrated by one of the most listenable and prolific of narrators, Grover Gardner. What was it like for producers and adapters trying to interpret Truman Capote's book in an age when female screen characters were limited in scope to either rich or poor, nice or naughty? Audrey changed the depiction of women in the movies, but many surprising facts behind the scenes reveal that serendipity played a role, along with risk taking, in creating a classic that shook the worlds of both fashion and culture. This is a humorous yet exhaustive look back, made ever interesting by a masterful reading.

Finally, ATTENTION ALL PASSENGERS by William J. McGee, as read by Greg Itzin, bears the subtitle "The Airlines' Dangerous Descent--And How to Reclaim Our Skies." The author goes through a litany of what makes your experience of flying a pain, and it's not just body searches and lost luggage. He covers overbooking, fuelish concerns, repair schedules, and dwindling safety amid widespread paranoia over terrorism. What's wrong with outsourcing of maintenance, and what if your jet stops for a new part in a foreign airport that uses cheaper counterfeit substitutes? This audiobook will appeal to frequent fliers with a beef against the frustrations inherent in the industry. It also shows how the airline lobby in Washington has donated money to political campaigns, such as to John McCain, in order to water down any passenger rights bills up for vote.

2012 Past Columns