Friday, August 24, 2007


My delivery from Listening Library arrived late this month (with some goodies, though -- The Off Season!), so I had to open up the BBC Audiobook that I've been assigned and start listening: What is the What. Yes, this hasn't been published for the young adult market, but some audiobook publishers see fit to send us adult titles that they think will have high teen appeal. I will say that this book would never make it to my nightstand, as I just don't enjoy brushing with reality via books (I much prefer National Public Radio and my local newspaper).

This was written as a novel, based on the true story of a Lost Boy, Valentino Achak Deng, and I'm holding on to the novel designation with a vengeance. I'm just barely into chapter five, and the decimation of his village in Sudan has begun. First the rebels come to steal goods, then the army descends to punish the village for "helping" the rebels. Valentino -- only about nine or ten -- has fled with his father to a larger city for protection. This is not going to be pleasant.

The narrator, Dion Graham, is excellent. He switches easily between Valentino's Sudanese (?) accent and that of the African American punks who robbed and held him captive in his apartment in Atlanta -- a framing device for Valentino's story. I'm not as clear when he's narrating the conversation of two adults, but so far, I'm hearing a nice contrast between Valentino as he describes life in his village as a boy, and Valentino as an adult, watching the thieves rob him of his worldly goods.

I do listen in bed for a short time before falling asleep most nights, but I think I'll be giving that a pause for the next 18 hours -- this stuff is too grisly.

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