Anyone who knows me knows how much I enjoy reading. When I indulge, I seem to do so in spurts ... periods of devouring books and then periods of absolute drought where I find it difficult to sit down and totally lose myself in anything written. Hmmmm, thinking about it now, there are similarities in other aspects of my life, but I digress ...
I moved into the 21st century kicking and screaming.
With the introduction of an MP3 Player (no, I'll never need one of those) and audio books (no, I enjoy reading books and using my own imagination) into my life it seems I am able to partake of books in places and at times when I would ordinarily find it difficult. We are extremely fortunate in my little part of the world to have a library that offers on-line borrowing of audio books. It has a fairly extensive selection, always has the classics, new publications and bestsellers and, most importantly to me, its EASY. Pick a book. Type in the magical library card number. Click, and you are loading the books on to your MP3 player of choice, or burning CD’s for listening in the car.
You do have to swear on the sanctity of your library card and offer your limbs and vital organs as collateral guaranteeing the downloads will only be used for your personal entertainment and not distributed for any sort of monetary gain with the ever present threat of INTERPOL tracking you down should they discover an infraction of that stipulation ... Whew ... I typed that whole sentence without breathing!
The consequence of audio books is that I go through titles a little more quickly. Although I still like to "read" my favorite authors, I greatly appreciate having others "read" to me. Part of the pleasure of listening to books is the extraordinary talent of some of the narrators. After reading tomes like ROMA by Steven Saylor, and WORLD WITHOUT END by Ken Follett or slightly disturbing books like KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL by Deborah Rodriguez I like to pick some lighter reads. Books that might actually make me smile or laugh out loud. Christopher Moore accomplishes this, but having exhausted that source I looked for others. Hence, I stray from the tried and true and stumble blindly into the uncharted territory of authors I have never read before, have never heard of and, have never had recommended to me. I happened across DEAD CENTER and PLAY DEAD written by David Rosenfelt. These are read by Grover Gardner, who reads the books with delicious, deadpan dryness. I picked PLAY DEAD for no other reason but that it had a picture of a pretty Golden Retriever on the cover. The books are written in the first person. The plots are a little thin and somewhat predictable, but the characters are charismatic and the dialogue rocks!
I think I need professional help!
Having seen me standing on my front stoop, with headphones attached to my head, having a cigarette and laughing to myself ... I am sure some of my neighbors would be witness to that statement being true.
"Do you get spiritual credit for celibacy if it is involuntary?"
"Finding dates is not my problem. There are any number of women who seem available. It’ my lack of interest. It’s the ironic opposite of high school."
The main character has recently had a break up of a long term relationship, his dinner companion’s comments ... Rita puts down her wine glass and the realization hits her, "My God, you haven’t had sex in four and a half months?" Its painful for me to hear this, partially because its true, but mostly because the waitress has just come over and heard it as well. I turn to the waitress and say "DAYS ... she meant four and half days. Which for me is a REALLY LONG time!"
On his relationship with his dog, Tara ...
After Rita leaves, Tara jumps up on the bed and occupies the spot she so graciously gave up to Rita. She stares at me disdainfully, apparently disgusted at my craven weakness. "Oh, don’t look at me like that" I say. But, she pays no attention. We both know what the payoff to buy back her respect will be, but the biscuits are in the kitchen and its going to take an act of Congress to get me out of bed. So instead, I just lie there for awhile. And she just stares for awhile. Both of us aware how this will end. I won’t be able to fall asleep knowing she did not get her nighttime biscuit, and right now sleep is my dominant need. I get up, "Why must it always be about you?" I ask. But Tara seems to shrug off the question. I stagger into the kitchen, grab a biscuit and bring it back into the bedroom. I toss it onto the bed, not wanting to give her the satisfaction of putting it into her mouth for her. Determined to remain undefeated in our psychological battles, Tara allows the biscuit to just lie there. Not even acknowledging its presence. It will be gone in the morning when I wake up, but she will not give me the satisfaction of chowing down while I am awake. Tara and I have some issues.
And all that in the first 8 minutes.
Yeah, I know it will never win a Pulitzer, but what a great way to have some down time.
One more, if you can bear with me, is ELLA MINNOW PEA by Mark Dunn. It calls itself an adult fable, and is (in my humble opinion) one of the most delightful, most original books I have read in a very long time. However, it needs to be read ... audio would be an impossibility. Its a short book, and an easy read and well worth the couple of hours to sit down and do so. For those readers who need a deep meaning and a lesson in everything they read ... if you think about this one long enough ... that is there too. Something for everyone.
Originally written March 2008