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By Jonathan Lowe

OCT 2012

by Jonathan Lowe

Who Moved My TV? That's the question for a befuddled bachelor named Conner Lemming, who has been watching way too much television, particularly sports. But there's another kind of game afoot as two sewer rats invade his house and develop an inverse intelligence ratio with Conner: The more he watches the boob tube the dumber he gets, while they get smarter and begin to pretend it's his deceased ex wife haunting him. . . which also explains the missing cheese. Narrator Christopher Vournazos is the best possible narrator for my fantasy novella, as he employs a diligent and well nuanced interpretation of the characters, human or otherwise. Tone, timing, and dramatic effect are skillfully brought to bear in order to bring the fable to life. Inspired by Ray Bradbury, it's a "must-share" with anyone who should be reading instead of watching the idiot box all the time.

Next, Hetty Green was the richest woman in America at the end of the 19th Century, but there was nothing flashy or snooty about her. The Richest Woman in America by Janet Wallach is read by Colleen Marlo for audio, and chronicles how Wall Street operated in the Gilden Age, enduring rivalries and crashes. It's the portrait of an iconoclast who defied expectations and remained an individual, frugal and wise in the midst of fools. For the contrast between Hetty and today's bankers, it's a history we should all learn. Marlo is always a diligent and confident performer, disappearing (as all good actors do in reading non-fiction) behind the words she speaks.

Don't Know Much About the American Presidents by Kenneth C. Davis offers a broad overview of Presidential history and the Presidency itself, with insight into how the Constitution is interpreted, how succession played out, and how the emergence of money's influence over elections came to dominate the politics of today. Timelines of what happened during every President's term are given, along with answers to typical questions. Read by veteran narrator Arthur Morey, with help from others, the book is for anyone curious about how the Presidency evolved, as a foundation to guessing where it may be going. One thing is for certain: more politicians of our current generation are lawyers than in previous eras. Given the power and the perks, this may explain why term limits in Congress and the Senate are less likely to happen, and why most politician's Job #1 at going into office is to get re-elected.

JOSEPH ANTON is the alter ego of Salman Rushdie, a combination of Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. This memoir details his life under guises and protection from a death sentence fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for his novel The Satanic Verses. Now, he says, if he'd known what the reaction would have been, he would have been more critical of Iran. How does one fight for freedom of speech against those who don't believe in such freedom? How does he conduct his life and work as a writer in the public eye while being under the threat of death? Rushdie answers these questions with a memoir of his life since 1989, the people he's met, and with a behind-the-scenes look at publishing, culture, and religion. It's a fascinating account, well written and openly defiant, as he questions why anyone has the right to censor a work of fiction without even bothering to read the book or understand what he was saying. The biography, issued at a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked worldwide for (supposedly) a fictional movie release is only a coincidence. Unlike that idiotic and unfortunate film, this biography has been much longer in the making, and its author is no idiot. Read on audio by Sam Dastor, whose English accent adds an air of authority to the true story, the book comes up against many Middle Eastern critics whose response to criticism is not reason or argument, but firebombs.

2012 Past Columns