Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ay-yuh

I used to subscribe to The New Yorker. Eventually, though, I couldn't stand it as the issues just piled up staring at me, saying you can't recycle me until you read me. While I liked most of the nonfiction features (John McPhee anyone?), I felt kinda blasé about the fiction. Too dense, too obscure, too ... ok, I'll say it, literary. Reading it felt like work. Which brings me to Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer-Prize winning Olive Kitteridge. I think I would have enjoyed reading these as they were originally published in The New Yorker, scattered over a year or two -- catching up with Olive and the other residents of Crosby, Maine -- but all in one swoop didn't go down easy.

Olive is a retired junior high math teacher, renowned for her strictness and her barbed temperament. Her former students fear her. She lives with her kind husband Henry, the town's pharmacist, but their only child Christopher pretty much got out of Olive's orbit as soon as he could (but this was later than just after college). The 13 stories mostly feature Olive as protagonist, but occasionally she just puts in an appearance. They are all vivid in their description of place, but where the writing left me gave me pause (in a good way) was the way Strout defines a character through the way they stand or dress, or even -- since the author's narrative is what the New York Times calls "free indirect" -- what they are thinking (without it being their actual thoughts). Her writing is literary without density, a reader doesn't have to work to parse what she is saying, yet we recognize that her spare prose is telling us so much than just the words she is using.

The stories are deeply compelling, full of situations that ring completely true about a community that's losing its cohesion as its children move away, about aging and loss, about parents and adult children, about how relationships ebb and flow, how they change or don't change. There's a feeling of melancholy for lost things that runs through the stories. You don't need to live in a small town in Maine to utterly understand the actions and emotions of the people who live there. Strout's characters are universal. And her characters are -- almost to a person -- all deeply real.

But when the interlinked stories repeatedly provided a simple back story (Olive is fat, Henry is kind, Olive's angry at Henry's incapacity, Christopher is ungrateful), I got cranky. I didn't need that information intruding -- again! -- on this new story. And in the few stories where Olive makes just a brief appearance it often felt like she was placed there just to provide continuity to the collection of stories. So, the stories all together failed for me.

I had a brief flirtation (shorter than the time I subscribed to The New Yorker) with short fiction while I was in graduate school, as they met my need for stories with limited reading time available. I rarely go back to them, but I really should. I think I would have enjoyed Olive Kitteridge more in little bursts (to paraphrase the title of one of Strout's stories).

On the other hand, I wasn't crazy about the narration by Sandra Burr. She is prolific, but I've only heard her read one time, before I began keeping this blog. When Burr read the dialogue, she was lively, consistent and interesting; the characters are believable. Her Maine accent seemed a little wobbly to me, not nearly as good as those heard here, but it wasn't disastrously bad.

Burr's narrative voice, though, gave me problems. It rarely changed in pace or volume, its rhythm became lulling. It seemed as if she was awed by Strout's prose, so much so that she could only read it in the most deferential way possible. Does she want to step out of the way, so listeners can appreciate just the words? Unfortunately, reading this neutrally only leads to missing the words altogether as the mind inevitably wanders.

I'm also not sure that listening to something this well-written is the best way to access it. Strout's prose is so excellent that you want to linger over it, to go back and read that perfect, perfect sentence over again. To leave post-it notes (although I'm generally not a post-it-note reader), so you can find it again ... for a blog post, maybe [ ;-) ], although just to revisit may be reason enough.

This was likely the last audiobook for 2011. Some were better than others. The worst was, I think, the other Maine book. And that's all I'm going to say about that 'cause I don't want to end on a cranky note. There were these two books that also took place in Maine; I liked them.

[One of my favorite stories was "Tulips," where Olive is coming to grips with Henry's debilitating stroke. This photograph was taken by Nevit Dilmen and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Narrated by Sandra Burr
Brilliance Audio, 2008. 10:35

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SAT vocabulary

Before I started listening to audiobooks, I was a one-book-at-a-time reader (and, of course, I finished that book before starting the next). Now, I'm a tad more loose; but I got a little mixed up this past week listening to the dystopian Chicago of Veronica Roth's Divergent, while reading about dystopian Los Angeles in Marie Lu's Legend. Occasional muddling ensued, as did occasional amusement. Divergent, which ran away with Goodreads' Choice Award for Favorite Book of 2011, has that Hunger Games magic mix of bleak, maybe totalitarian, environment; girl with no future who triumphs over grueling physical and mental challenges, and ... oh yeah! finds romance.

Beatrice Pryor's 16th birthday is approaching, the day when she will evaluate the results of her aptitude test and formally choose which faction in which she will spend the rest of her life. Beatrice has been raised in Abnegation, one of five factions making up society in a future Chicago, and the only faction to hold political power (since they won't be swayed by its privileges). Each faction believes that it is the true path to solving the society's problems, and they live in uneasy coexistence. The test results tell the teens which faction is the place where their personalities will work best, but the society does not insist that a student select that faction on their Choosing Day. Beatrice, however, does not get a clear result on her aptitude test. She is told that she is Divergent, that she has aptitude for Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless (but not Amity or Candor). And that under no circumstances should she share the results of her test with anyone. "Divergence is extremely dangerous."

On Choosing Day, Beatrice rejects her family and chooses Dauntless. Her older brother also leaves, choosing Erudite. Beatrice is plunged (literally) into an initiation that values physical power and "bravery" as a means of fixing society. (The quotes are mine, I didn't like this part.) When the month-long training is over, initiates will have endured countless episodes of physical violence, as well as a series of simulations where they are forced to face their deepest fears. Those who do not make the cut are severed from Dauntless and join the ranks of the factionless, doomed to live their lives in isolation and poverty. Beatrice becomes Tris, gets a few tattoos, bonds with some of her fellow initiates (and makes enemies of others) and her instructor, Four, and stumbles upon a plot designed to bring other factions to power.

The story is more complex than I've described -- and it thoughtfully addresses adolescent issues of community, family and where to belong -- but I found the violence deeply disturbing. It's clearly a military approach of break them down/build them up, and the novel reveals to us that Dauntless training was not always this way, but its glorification bothered me. I felt like I was meeting all the District One and Two tributes in training for The Hunger Games. Tris and her friends are sympathetic, but on the whole I didn't like any of them. When the plot to destroy Abnegation kicks in, the story became more of a thrill and I enjoyed the last pages. The romance is very sweet as well. And, in case you didn't know, Tris and Four will return.

Dystopian Chicago was very interesting to me, as Roth refers to various landmarks (the Bean, the Hancock Tower, I even think that Dauntless headquarters was at Wrigley Field?) familiar to almost everyone. Their decay and dilapidation leant an air of eerie horror to the novel, the feeling that our society today is just a disaster or two removed from Tris's.

Divergent is narrated by Emma Galvin, a new-to-me narrator (here's a short interview). She has a lovely reading voice, low and quiet with enough youthfulness to make you believe that she's a teenager. She brings a lot of intensity to her narration, which is perfectly in line with the character of Tris. She doesn't attempt to identify characters with vastly different voices, but uses speech rhythms, volume and changes in register so that following dialogue is easy. When Tris is frightened or excited, or making the decision to kill someone she knows, the emotions are easy to hear in Galvin's narration. She made the long hours of violent training mostly bearable and brought the novel to its exciting close. I'd listen to her read again.

I received Divergent as a gift from Bewitched Bookworms, for participating in their 2011 challenge, Whisper Stories in My Ear. I thank them, especially because I rejected their offerings the month I won and asked for Divergent instead. Since I had no trouble meeting their minimum -- one audiobook per month! -- there wasn't much challenge for me. I had my little fun this year out there on the wide prairie of the internet, but I think I'll return to my sod cabin and soldier on alone. Listening, always listening.

[The watercolor of the "HMS Dauntless in a following wind, November 17, 1950" is by Captain Cowper Phipps Coles and is in the public domain. It was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons and the original is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum.]

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Narrated by Emma Galvin
Harper Audio, 2011. 11:11

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An innocent abroad

It's Sunday, my library got some bad financial news (right before the holidays!) and I'm feeling reflective. Grief is a unique experience. No one grieves like anyone else. I tried to remember this while listening to Jonathan Safron Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close this past week. (The librarian in me struggles with featuring a Wikipedia entry, but the author himself links to it from another site, so here you go.) Until the very end of this book, I was close to utterly fed up with young Oskar Schell and his incredible journey. But then, Oskar got closure (or something like that [it depends on how you grieve]), and I was in tears.

Oskar was seven years old when his father died at Windows on the World on September 11, 2001. He is bereft. He was sent home from school early -- without being told why -- and enters his family's apartment hearing his father leaving a message on the answering machine. His father called a total of six times. Before his mother got home, Oskar removed the answering machine and its recording and hid it from her. Two years later, Oskar sees his mother, and the world, moving on from that awful, awful day, but he's not ready. He finds a key inside an envelope labeled "Black" tucked inside a glass vase in his father's closet. Oskar decides that if he can find the lock for that key, he will receive a message that his father left for him.

Oskar is an unusual child, and this was where I had the most problems with the novel (not all the problems ... there's more to come!). He's basically an adult with an occasional nine-year-old's trait. To all intents and purposes, his mother seems to have left him alone for two years as he pursues his various interests -- French, astrophysics, inventions, tambourine playing ... an insatiable curiosity that -- among other things -- exposes him to internet porn. He also has a load of fears -- all relating to the way everyday things led to his father's death. He applies his investigative abilities to tracking down every Black in the five boroughs to see who has the lock to his key.

I think it helps to view this as a fantasy novel -- there are no barriers in the way of a smart pre-tween making his way all over New York City to meet every Black he could locate (no mention of unlisted numbers, by the way). Mom doesn't seem to worry about his absences day and night and money wasn't a problem. Even when I told myself that I was reading fantasy, Oskar's situation and actions continually bugged me. For example, why would a class of 4th graders be performing Hamlet? Is it really that easy to dig up a grave in the middle of the night?

Then, being Foer (pronounced like the number if you are interested), the author ladles on another layer to his novel. Two other narrators interrupt Oskar's story: A man who does not speak is addressing a series of letters to his son, and a woman who has "crummy eyes" and is writing a memoir for her grandson. All in wordy, stream-of-consciousness, and self-conscious, prose. We eventually figure out that these people are Oskar's grandparents who also live in a fantasy world that doesn't require money, physical logistics, or any basis in reality. And we learn that they experienced something akin to the attack on the Towers during the firebombing of Dresden, Germany during World War II.

As you know, I finish things, and I finished this. It rewards a reader who dislikes ambiguity , as Foer provides absolute closure (there are no loose ends at all). Oskar has an apotheosis at the top of another iconic skyscraper, the Empire State Building. It was incredibly moving, much the way that Conor O'Malley's was a few books ago. But unlike Patrick Ness' spare, focused novella, this one sprawls all over the place, feeling very indulgent and consciously literary. The book I had the most flashbacks to was that of Foer's contemporary and fellow author/gadfly, Dave Eggers.

I am grateful for three narrators, though -- who, as narrators do in so many instances -- make the nonsense go down a little more easily. Yes, following young Oskar on his quest for Blacks is so much easier when you are commuting, exercising, wrapping presents, etc. Jeff Woodman handles Oskar's narration, Barbara Caruso is grandma, and Richard Ferrone is grandpa. Woodman is the standout here, but he's got more to work with. He uses his youthful voice to great effect as the precocious Oskar matter-of-factly describing his inventions, his observations of the adult world, and his Asperger's-like focus on his mission. When Oskar finally weeps, though, it's shocking and deeply personal. Listening to Woodman's performance makes Oskar a real boy (which I don't think he is in Foer's novel), so that his breakdown is all the more poignant.

Caruso, who I listened to several times when I was first snapping up audiobooks (she was quite memorable as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time), reads Oskar's grandmother with warmth and a rich emotion that invests her story with truth as well.

Ferrone, the only one of the three I have never heard read before, has a deep, gravelly delivery that nicely represents the voice of a man who doesn't speak. He reads with detachment, another good choice for a character who carefully keeps people at a distance and strong emotion under wraps.

Yes, the reason why I listened to this was because there is a movie coming out (I had mostly Sandra Bullock flashes while listening; fortunately Oskar's mother doesn't appear very often in the novel), and I was frustrated by the novel a lot of the time, but I'm glad I got to it. Foer's first novel, Everything is Illuminated, also satisfied me in the end, while annoying me during. I lived in New York well before 9/11, but in trips there since 2001 I've yet to visit Ground Zero. I've avoided the annual outpourings of mass mourning (or disaster porn as others more eloquent than I have described it) because I never felt it was my loss. Oskar's loss and grief rang true to me, though -- he was working through it the only way he knew how. As we all must do.

[The photo of the World Trade Center Tribute in Lights was taken by Derek Jensen and retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Narrated by Barbara Caruso, Richard Ferrone, and Jeff Woodman
Recorded Books, 2005. 11:00

Sunday, December 11, 2011

40%

Readers here know that I am a reader of detective fiction, but you might not know that I feel some small obligation to you to not plunk you down in the middle of a series. Starting at the beginning is important to me, so when I can combine the beginning with an audio version, I'm inclined to give it my ears. Add Dion Graham to the mix and it's an easy one to add to the listening queue. Hence, The Cut by George Pelecanos.

Spero Lucas works as an unlicensed investigator for a solo practice lawyer representing mostly small-time criminal defendants. He has a side business recovering lost or stolen items for a straight cut of 40%. He likes outdoor sports (biking, kayaking), women, food, music that I've mostly never heard of, books that I have heard of, and his working-class neighborhood in northeast (?) Washington, DC (all described with loving detail).

Spero, who was adopted into a Greek-American family, lives near his widowed mother and beloved older brother, Leo. Leo is African American and Spero is white. (I knew this because I'd listened to a short story featuring Spero's family before listening to The Cut, but I really liked how we learn about characters' race not through description, but how other characters react to them.) Spero was a Marine in Iraq, and his work feels a little like he doesn't really know what to do with himself after the purpose and mission he felt while serving.

He takes a recovery job from one of his employer's defendants, a marijuana dealer for whom a few shipments have gone astray. Pursuing the thefts leads to the assassination of the dealer's two young assistants, and to a criminal enterprise led by a former rogue cop. A promising student of Spero's brother gets caught up in the middle. Spero is driven not so much by right and wrong, but his sense of personal justice. And when he needs to kill, he views his act dispassionately, as necessary -- a view honed by his experiences in Fallujah.

While I appreciate Pelecanos' writing -- which has an urban rhythm and a righteousness that is compelling -- I find the details not particularly interesting. The name dropping -- clothes, cars, musicians, and yes, even writers -- feels pretentious to me, and it never ceased. The villains are so obviously, well villainous that their comeuppance is not satisfying. Even the setting -- which is the strongest part of the novel, as the affection the author feels for the non-governmental settings of DC is palpable -- became mired down in such detail that I began tuning out.

I don't wish to pile on, but I found the characters a little cardboard-y as well. In Chosen, the short story of Spero's origins -- how he was adopted and grew up in the Lucas family -- Spero's parents come across as saints in their color-blindness, not real people at all. Saintliness, sexiness, intensity, innocence -- all of Pelecanos' characters just seem so one dimensional. Like the flawed hero he is, Spero is an interesting character, but he's surrounded by types.

The question is, do these flaws show up in the detective fiction that I do like and I just don't see them because I'm enjoying the puzzle? Maybe I need the puzzle. I get that in real life most crimes are not committed by highly intelligent people adept at disguising their involvement, but I don't read detective fiction for reality. After two Pelecanos novels, I think I know that the "reality" of hard-boiled fiction (which isn't real either) -- the clothing labels, the music, and the no-question-about-it bad guys -- isn't my cup of tea. I'm just going to have to get my Dion fix elsewhere.

I liked Graham here (face it, I like Graham). He does a fine job channeling Spero's conflicts -- warrior, loner, lover, brother, grieving son. The resonant softness, almost whisper, of his delivery works well with Pelecanos' street rhythms, giving the whole narrative a sense of impending calamity. He livens up a few of the other characters with some vocal interest -- I enjoyed his portrayal of Spero's two war buddies, and the two young marijuana dealers who meet an unpleasant end.

And, I gotta say (with a blush) ... there's a scene early in the novel when Spero is making love with one of his women and, well ... Graham delivered a character's moment of pleasure authentically. And that's all I've got to say about that!

[Spero's 'hood is NE DC. The picture of the 800 block of H Street, NE was taken by AgnosticPreachersKid and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Also from the Commons, Jen's photo of blusher and brush.]

The Cut and Chosen by George Pelecanos
Narrated by Dion Graham
Hachette Audio, 2011. 7:32 (The Cut) and 0:45 (Chosen)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Summer residency

Why do two book review journals (Booklist and Kirkus) refer to the hero of Mark Mills' The Savage Garden by the wrong last name? Was Adam Strickland's last name changed from Banting just before publication? Curious. And slightly pertinent, since Strickland is a character who -- when confronted with a conundrum like the somewhat askew arrangement of a formal garden in Tuscany, or a room where a murder took place that's been locked for 14 years -- will worry it until he has an answer.

Adam is an art history student at Cambridge in 1958. He lucks into a summer research project, courtesy of his lecturer, Crispin Leonard. He'll study the famed Renaissance garden of the Villa Docci, created in the 1500s to honor Flora, a young woman who died shortly after her marriage to an elderly Docci. The Doccis still reside at the Villa, and the family is slowly recovering from the years of occupation during World War II, when the eldest son was mercilessly killed by the Germans as they prepared to flee the advancing Allies.

When Adam arrives at Villa Docci and begins to explore the garden, something seems slightly off to him -- the garden doesn't follow the symmetrical rules of the period and the statues of the various gods -- the namesake Flora, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Adonis -- have unusual positions or locations. Welcomed into the Villa by the elderly owner, Francesca Docci and her beautiful granddaughter Antonella, Adam ponders this puzzle. He also learns about the circumstances of the death of Emilio -- the heir to the estate -- and that the room where he was murdered hasn't been touched since.

Adam's classical education comes in handy as he breaks the code of the garden using Dante's Inferno and the help of his randy older brother Harry. The Doccis seem less enthusiastic about his interest in Emilio's death, and getting too close may endanger his life. He's not even sure that Antonella -- with whom he has fallen in love -- will tolerate his curiosity.

I really enjoy an art- or literature-based historical mystery (Possession anyone? The Historian?) so this is right down my alley. The setting is wonderfully described -- the lush but slightly forbidding garden, the hot Tuscan summer, formal late-night dinners of wine and pasta at the Villa. But I found it dragging a bit. Adam's discoveries seemed to all be of the "by Jove!" variety (plus he always seemed to react precisely that way) -- revelations that seemed to pop fully formed into his head. The romance seemed a little stilted (I was folding laundry during the big lovemaking scene and it was not enough to make me stop ... folding that is).

There was also an all-revealing letter at the end that reeked of melodrama to me. And, in an audiobook huh? moment, the very beginning includes a literary device that confused me enough that I started the audiobook again. In the print version, this device would be recognizable as you turned the first page. When I was "look[ing] inside this book" at amazon.com -- in search of the map of the garden -- I came across the novel's first page, and I could not remember what it meant. Who "was known, primarily, for his marrows"? Huh? It seems odd to start this way, and then drop it immediately.

A narrator I seem to have no prayer of finding out about online, Ian Stuart, reads the novel. (My library's catalog says that he was born in 1927 [making him 80 when he read this ... which just can't be, can it?].) Stuart reads in a resonant, baritone-ish English accent. In the novel's long descriptive passages, he is pleasant to listen to. When things get a little dicey for our hero, Stuart can deliver the tension and excitement.

He doesn't voice characters vastly differently, relying instead on the emotion of what each person is saying to distinguish between them, so figuring out who was speaking wasn't a problem. All the Italians in the novel speak in Italian-accented English. When Stuart did speak Italian, which he did occasionally, he sounded authentic to me. I kept wanting to hear more of 'ch' sound when he pronounced Docci, in my ears Stuart gave it more of a soft 'g.' A minor quibble. If there are other Ian Stuart narrations out there, I'd listen to him again.

Curioser and curioser. Who is Ian Stuart? Who or what is Banting, and why is it a bad last name? Is there a literary reference to "savage garden" that I'm missing? From the Inferno, maybe?

[Adam Strickland compares the statue of Flora to that of Giambologna's Venus in Florence's Boboli Garden. This image of the Venus was retrieved from the museum's website.]

The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
Narrated by Ian Stuart
Brilliance Audio, 2007. 8:15

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Grounded

I was very fortunate to meet Jack Gantos when he visited our library in 2003. Gosh, he was funny! He made this great presentation -- using an overhead projector of all things -- where he entertainingly explained to kids how to write what you know. He drew a map of his neighborhood and began telling stories -- here's where I got the bad haircut, here's where I jumped off the roof, here's where our dog died. I think most of his novels stem from what he knows. His latest novel, Dead End in Norvelt, is more crazy storytelling from and by a boy named Jack Gantos.

Jack is having the worst summer of his life. It's 1964, he's 11 years old and he's living in slowly dying Norvelt, Pennsylvania. His mother has grounded him for accidentally shooting off his father's World War II Japanese rifle and for mowing down her corn crop (the latter at his father's instigation). The only time he can leave his house is when his next-door neighbor, Miss Volker, calls him for help. She's the town historian and chief obituary writer, but her arthritis is so bad that she can't type or grip a pen anymore. Miss Volker wants Jack to take dictation for her obits and her "this day in history" columns, and then dash down to the Norvelt News with them.

At first Jack is horrified ... at his first encounter with the acerbic Miss Volker, he thinks she's boiling her hands off as she tries a paraffin heat treatment. But as they get to know one another, Jack realizes that his love of history reflects hers. Norvelt, Miss Volker tells him, was a town founded by (what we would now call) the working poor during the Great Depression with the support of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The town honored her in its name. Norvelt was founded on the idea of people banding together to help one another, but now its residents are fleeing in droves. There are just a few original Norvelt-ians left, and Miss Volker is determined to remember them, and the town in which they used to live.

Miss Norvelt's obituaries are deeply personal -- as is fitting since she knows the deceaseds really, really well. But the elderly Norvelt-ians seem to be dying at an accelerated rate. This, coupled with Jack's fear of death, the dead Hell's Angel, his constantly bleeding nose, visits to the mortuary, and the fact that his dad's making him dig a bomb shelter, mean it's not going to be the boring summer Jack thought it would be.

Those who like to read Gantos (or Gantos-Boy as one of the characters in this novel calls him) for the laughs or the grossology will find plenty of that here, but the part of the book that spoke to me was more sentimental. Norvelt is changing, and mostly not for the better. Miss Volker realizes it, but she's hanging on to what is good. Jack's dad sees it and wants to get out. Jack loves history and -- through Miss Volker -- understands that it can inform us about the present. He's torn between his parents -- his mom wants to stay, his dad has his eye on Florida.

Gantos serves as narrator. Five years ago I listened to one of his books, The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, which is the only book he's written that he hasn't narrated (I think). He couldn't narrate anyone else's books, because of a strong regional accent and limited voice acting skills, but he's just perfect here. His nasality, plus those western Pennsylvania vowels, fit so well with the Jack who is telling this story. He doesn't distinguish characters with voices, but his emotional readings are so genuine. Gantos has no difficulty getting inside the head and vocal patterns of a pre-adolescent boy. Fear, fascination, exasperation, stupidity and love are all completely clear in his narration. It's a pleasure to listen to him read.

The audiobook concludes with a insightful -- if poor recording quality -- interview with Gantos. He describes his love for his home town and the very real conflicts of his parents. He briefly explains his approach to writing -- starting with a nugget of an idea and seeing where it takes him. Jack also told of his affection for Eleanor Roosevelt; invited to the White House, he began to cry as he stood in front of Mrs. Roosevelt's portrait there. (His love of Eleanor Roosevelt reminded me of that image from the first Olivia book, where a picture of the late first lady hangs in that crazy pig's bedroom.)

This book bogged down a little bit for me in the middle, as I was wondering where we were headed, but Dead End in Norvelt ended perfectly. I think I knew what was going to happen to Miss Volker, but Gantos doesn't spell it out. Jack's summer just goes on. Life goes on.

[The (tiny -- click on it to make it bigger) map of Norvelt was retrieved from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania's site on "subsistence homestead communities of the 1930s" linked above (on Norvelt).

[The portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt was taken around the time that Norvelt was founded. It is in the Library of Congress and is in the public domain. It was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Narrated by Jack Gantos
Macmillan Audio, 2011. 7:11

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Believe it or not, there are others listening out there!

It's been too long since I've given a shout-out to the women who collect posts for their monthly feature AudioSynced. Be sure to check out November's links at Abby the Librarian, and October's at Stacked.

Other places to find blog reviews: Audiobook Jukebox, SoundBytes at Devourer of Books, Whisper Stories in My Ears at Bewitched Bookworms, and Teresa's Reading Corner.