Insane city [sound recording CD] : [a novel]

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Dave Barry
Title:  Insane city [sound recording CD] : [a novel]
This laugh-out-loud romp could only be brought to you by Dave Barry. We meet our protagonist, Seth, as he’s heading to his eco-friendly wedding at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne.  He’s set to marry Tina, a beautiful, Harvard lawyer from a wealthy family, who really should be out of his league.  The zany characters include strippers, an escaped orangutan, angry cops, angry pimps, an Albino python, Haitian refugees, etc. Hilarious situations include a hijacked pirate ship, a misplaced batch of marijuana brownies, and a billionaire whose wish is to join a secret society. This is a real page turner (or disc turner) as the reader wonders “Will the ‘groom posse’ rescue Seth from himself?” and “Will the wedding go off as planned”?

Savage Summit: the true stories of the first five women who climbed K2, the world’s most feared mountain

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Jennifer Jordan
Savage Summit: the true stories of the first five women who climbed K2, the world’s most feared mountain
This is a well-written group biography of the women who climbed the world’s second tallest mountain: Wanda Rutkiewicz (a Pole); Liliane Barrard and Chantal Mauduit (both of France); and Julie Tullis and Alison Hargreaves (both British). This book covers the climbers’ early lives as well as the years 1986 to 1995 which encompasses the summits.

The women climbers faced sexism, infighting, abandonment by fellow climbers, sabotage of their encampments, etc.. Hargreaves got flak for being a mother and risking her life climbing. Mauduit is accused of using her sex appeal to get men to prepare the ascent w/ fixed lines, and that porters (or sherpas) did most of the work and heavy lifting. Some even accused her of not summiting, if she could not produce photographic evidence. Barrard was accused of being passive and dependent on her husband, Maurice. Similar criticism was aimed at Tullis and her male climbing partner. Rutkiewicz suffered the accusations of not summiting the mountains she really did summit as well as fellow climbers abandoning her on the mountain. She had to become a climbing “free agent” of sorts, because her strong and opinionated personality alienated many.

This is a very suspenseful account that rivals Jon Krakauer’s classic “Into thin air”. The author’s research included interviewing scores of acquaintances, family members and friends of the women. My problem with the book is that Ms. Jordan attributed thoughts and feelings to the subjects, which she couldn’t possibly know, no matter how much research she conducted.

A glossary of climbing terms and a timeline would have been helpful.

Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Mark Fuhrman
Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?
This is the true crime account of the murder of 15 year old Martha Moxley on her own property in the exclusive area of Belle Haven, Greenwich, CT. on October 30, 1975. Her neighbors were the Skakels, who are related to the Kennedys. From the beginning, many people suspected that someone from the Skakel household must have committed the crime, as the murder weapon was a golf club matching a set found in the house. Thomas Skakel, the 17 year old son of the widowed Rushton Skakel, emerged early as a suspect, since he was the last known person to see her alive. Ken Littleton, the 23 year old tutor who moved in that day, was a suspect for many years. Not only was the police investigation incompetent, but they tiptoed around the wealthy Skakels. It seemed the only way the crime would be solved would be a confession, because the police weren’t about to uncover anything useful themselves! Not until the existence of “the Sutton file” (a report by a private investigation firm, paid for by Rushton to clear Thomas’s name) became known did Michael Skakel (15 y/o at the time of the murder) become a suspect.

I like how Fuhrman explained how a murder investigation is supposed to be conducted, as he is a former detective with LAPD, most notable for being associated w/ the O.J. Simpson trial. A cast of characters would have been useful.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil [sound recording CD]

From  Jackie Cantwell
Author:  John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  [sound recording CD]
This is the first time I’ve listened to a book on CD, and I’m impressed! I read the book and I saw the movie, and couldn’t get enough of this story. The narrator is Jeff Woodman and he has a mellifluous voice that carries you back to Savannah. At first, I was curious how Mr. Woodman would handle the women characters in the narrative. But he did fine renditions of the Lady Chablis, Minerva, Mrs. Williams, etc. and captured their accents beautifully. This is a nonfiction account of Mr. Berendt’s time in Savannah, with a cast of unbelievable real-life characters, including Jim Williams, a well-to-do antiques dealer. It is funny, suspenseful and engrossing, and before you know it, you will go through all 13 discs of this unabridged version.


The Beatles [sound recording CD] : the rock biographies : the world’s greatest music performed by top musicians

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  various performers
The Beatles [sound recording CD] : the rock biographies : the world’s greatest music performed by top musicians
One has to have audacity to produce an album of cover versions of the Beatles music. Musicians as diverse as Little River Band and Molly Hatchet to Dweezil Zappa and Air Supply tried to bring something new or different to classic Beatles tunes. I think they all failed miserably with the exception of Jackson Browne who brings an ethereal and lilting voice to the song ”Across the Universe”. Ordinarily I’m floored by the talents of Fee Waybill of The Tubes, but his version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was dull and uninspired. Some of these songs are even painful to listen to. Leave me with my memories of the Beatles!

Lost and found: unexpected revelations about food and money

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Geneen  Roth
Lost and found: unexpected revelations about food and money
Well-known author Geneen Roth was another victim of Bernie Madoff’s investment scheme. What may differentiate her from other victims is her ability to lay bare her deep-seated, once subconscious beliefs about money and share these hard-earned truths with the reader. Her father’s entire family was killed in the Holocaust. Since he felt that God failed him and his family, he trusted no one and his life was dedicated to accumulating wealth and material things. As a young woman, Geneen was torn between wanting independence and depending on her father’s largesse for all her expenses. Geneen draws the parallel between our relationship with our fathers, our money, our choice of mates, and even our relationship with food. She encourages us to see if how we’re actually handling our finances jibes with our concern for the environment, our values, and our responsibilities to our families. She warns us that being willfully ignorant of our relationship with money, as she once was, can have dire consequences to our very souls.

Some girls, some hats and Hitler : a true love story rediscovered

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Trudi Kanter
Some girls, some hats and Hitler : a true love story rediscovered
This is the almost impossible-to-believe memoir of a woman who barely escaped Vienna, Austria after the Nazis took over. Trudi Kanter was an only child and successful milliner with her own shop. Her idyllic life was filled with café dining, dating eligible men, and trips to the Paris fashion shows. She paints prewar Vienna very vividly with sparkling descriptions such as: “Vienna was preparing for spring. Green shutters on white villas were painted greener. Black railings had their pointed gilt tops regilded. At the coffeehouses, newly white-painted chairs and tables were hopefully put outside. Waiters in white linen jackets carried white napkins over their arms. They welcomed the sun and invited customers to be the first ones to sit outside. The city looked crisp and polished, full of goodwill and expectation, full of romance. Even strangers greeted each other with a big smile and a bright, ‘Good morning’. ” Luckily, due to her connections, she knows earlier than most that the Nazi threat is near. The suspense is absolutely excruciating as she awaits the visas for herself, her husband Walter and her parents. You can see that she was either very lucky, or very good at reading people. On the train ride from Austria to Czechoslovakia: “A man in a navy blue suit enters our compartment, looks at us, and closes the door. ‘Passkontrolle!’ the German says. He holds out his hand to Walter. ‘Pass?’ Walter gives it to him. He scrutinizes each page and hands it back to him. He repeats this procedure with everyone in the compartment, leaving me to the last. I feel faint. He takes my passport, looks at each page, looks at me, checks each page again. Our lives depend on the whim of a single Nazi”.