Last Man in Tower

From Ellen Druda
Author: Aravind Adiga
Title: Last Man in Tower (sound recording)
Love of money is indeed the root of all evil. A congenial group of apartment dwellers who share the same building in a middle-class neighborhood in Mumbai are offered a buy-out deal from a powerful real-estate developer. Most are happy to accept the offer, but a few are hold-outs, including retired teacher Masterji. The pressure begins to build to convince Masterji to agree to sell his share in the building, and as the story draws to its inevitable conclusion, we watch this group of once friendly neighbors commit desperate acts so they can cash in. Aravind paints a vivid picture of life in current day India and narrator Sam Dastor brings the story alive with his authentic reading.

A Life

From Ellen Druda
author: Richards, Keith
Life [sound recording]
While Keith may just think it’s “a life” like any other musician’s, clearly his experiences have been way over the top.  His candid recollections about drugs and other bad behavior while being a huge celebrity, his brushes with death, and his narrow escapes from legal entrapments make this memoir seem
almost fictional in the telling.  The audiobook version is told in three different voices (Johnny Depp & Joe Hurley, and Keith himself) and seem to switch for no logical reason, making jarring transitions.  While I longed for more Rolling Stones backstory and gossip and less details about the different kinds of smack available to a rocker, Richards comes across as a likeable and decent guy.

The house of mirth

From Charlene Muhr
author: Wharton, Edith
The house of mirth [sound recording]
I recently listened to the audio book The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, read by Barbara Caruso.  Caruso mesmerizes the listener with her reading of this classic novel.  Wharton’s novel was first published in 1905, and it was her first important work of fiction.  The novel deals with the social classes in the late nineteenth century.  Lily Bart is twenty-nine, unmarried, and obsessed with wealth and luxury.  She is dependent on her aunt for her meager allowance and the only way to secure her place among the upper class is to marry a wealthy man.  Lily has passed up some marriage proposals, always feeling she could do better.  She even turns away from her true love, Lawrence Selden, because he couldn’t provide her with the life she desired.  Lily’s obsessions, gambling addiction, and bad relationships, cause her to fall from her aunt’s good graces and be rejected by her friends.  Her world as she knows it collapses and she is faced with only one tragic choice.

A visit from the goon squad [ sound recording]

From Ellen Druda
author: Egan, Jennifer
A visit from the goon squad  [ sound recording]
This is a series of stories that link together using reappearing characters. We follow Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and through him we meet the supporting cast of his life. Egan has done an amazing job of weaving characters across time and place, each story leading into the next as we meet the recurring cast at different times of their lives.  BBC Audiobooks America put the story on cd, not an easy task considering the experimental nature of the writing, which in print includes a powerpoint presentation.  The narration by Roxana Ortega brings the characters alive at their various ages, making the production seamless, fascinating, and warm.

The Help

From Charlene Muhr
author: Stockett, Kathryn
The Help
It’s 1962, and Eugenia Skeeter Pheelan, is a recent white college graduate, who returns home to Jackson, Mississippi, in hopes of becoming a writer.  The local paper hires her to write a housekeeping column, a subject very unfamiliar to her.  Seeking advice for her column, Skeeter begins interviewing Aibileen, a black maid who works for her friend Elizabeth.  When Skeeter submits a story to a NY Book Company and it is rejected, the editor encourages her to write about a subject that she knows.  Skeeter begins writing a ‘secret’ book about black maids working experiences with white families.  She enlists Aibileen’s help in finding other black maids to interview for her book.  This ‘secret’ book will establish Skeeter as a writer but will place the maids in jeopardy.  The audio book with the cast of four voices brings this novel alive, connecting the listener to the women who lived through it.

Juliet, Naked

From Ellen Druda
author: Hornby, Nick
Juliet, Naked
This is a romance on two levels: fan and famous, and man and woman.  Duncan runs a website for an obscure, reclusive musician named Tucker Crowe.  Duncan loves Tucker. Duncan’s girlfriend Annie posts a review of Tucker’s “Juliet, Naked” cd on Duncan’s website.  Tucker responds to Annie’s review, and circumstances bring him to England to meet Annie.  Now Annie loves Tucker. The problem is, Tucker doesn’t love anyone except his son Jackson.  The story is amusing and contemporary, and the audio book is multi-voiced to give it more layers and authenticity. Hornby revisits his favorite themes of love, loss, and loneliness, but the witty dialog and endearing characters make this an enjoyable and easy experience.

The Glass Castle

From Ellen Druda:

I’m almost done listening to The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls.   It’s the true  story of a young girl and her siblings growing up in a dysfunctional family.  The kids are plucky and smart, but they are defeated at every turn to improve themselves by their space-cadet mother and alcoholic father.   I’m groaning at the frustrations and cheering the small victories – you will, too!  I recommend this audiobook as a great story for the car.  The story really moves along and will work well for long trips or short commutes.