Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer Listening

When Leslie Riley, Adult Services Consultant at Ramapo-Catskill Library System, asked my for summer reading suggestions, it made me realize that a large portion of my reading intake during the past year has been aural. My daily commute from Rye is about a half hour each way and I will admit I have been neglecting current events in lieu of listening to various audio books (CDs). Whether these comprise 'distracted driving' or not, I don't know, but they make my ride one of the best parts of the day. Here are three works that I submitted to Leslie:

Summer Listening suggests audio books I’ve enjoyed this year, primarily during my daily commute by auto between Westchester and Rockland. These are great stories, engaging and broadening. Each deals, in its own way, with different aspects of recent American life and trends – from the Cold War of the 1950’s, the counter-culture that evolved from the 1960’s anti-war movement and finally, Jane Smiley’s account of the greedy exuberance of the 1990’s. BTW, Richard Poe’s narrations are outstanding.

Underworld – Don DeLillo [CD (unabridged), read by Richard Poe. Novel: 1997 on 27 discs.

A portrait of the decade, this wide-ranging work touches on the search for Bobby Thompson’s 1951 home-run baseball, avant-garde art utilizing de-commissioned B-52 bombers, and how a 1950s teenage hood from New York is transformed by the Jesuits into a respectable man, managing hazardous waste. Don’t be discouraged by the 27 discs – by the time I was half way through, I began looking for excuses to spend time in the car.

Drop City - T.Coraghessan Boyle, [CD (unabridged), read by Richard Poe. Novel: 2003 on 16 discs.

Set in the late 60’s, this intriguing tale traces the journey of a displaced California hippie commune to a new life in Alaska and the inter-cultural clashes that ensue when trippy bell-bottomed folks meet the plaid-clad trappers of the Alaskan bush.

Good Faith – Jane Smiley [CD (unabridged book), read by Richard Poe. Novel: 2003 on 11 discs.

Pulitzer Prize winner Smiley once again opens a convincing fictional window on an American subculture: the unbridled operators who hyper-inflated the real estate bubble. Smiley's amusing plot is charged with energy, her sense of time and place is on target, and her research into the ways and means of real estate development is seamlessly integrated.

I recommend taking them along for the ride.

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