Santa Cruz, CA, United States | Member Since 2012
After a life-long fascination with Japan, Cathy Davidson went to Osaka to teach English at a women's college. What she saw was industrialized, dingy: ugly. It wasn’t what she'd expected.
She had a disastrous first day when she took a public physical exam with her students: the tiny medical gown didn’t fit, she made multiple cultural errors, and she had to carry a sample of urine that was blue (because of UTI medications) in front of everyone.
For the rest of the semester, her students were convinced that North Americans have blue pee.
Davidson was told by her host that "the Japanese have a great appreciation for beauty, and no appreciation for ugly." In her time spent there, she too grows to find the beauty even among the warehouses. “Wabi-sabi” seeps in: that beauty lies in the irregularity and impermanence.
This book is delightful, it has a lot of humor and appreciation for Japanese culture. You can tell Davidson fell in love with her adopted country.
Please Don’t Tickle Me, Ben Franklin, You Crazy Diamond!
If you haven't peed your pants listening to Josh Kornbluth, you haven't LIVED. Kornbluth is a master storyteller and his comic timing is peerless.
After noticing a passing resemblance to Ben Franklin in the mirror, Josh Kornbluth embarks on a journey of—well not exactly SELF-discovery. More like satrical disembowelment.
I laughed til I cried.
Amy Jo Burns makes vivid the confines of small town life. That the choices involved in defining a girl's own self will have consequences in her treatment by the town—long after she should have outgrown any labels.
When the town's piano teacher is accused of molesting his students, she's perceptive enough to know that the girls who come forward will be branded and ostracized. She says, "In a small town, innocence can never be overrated. Innocence is a small town girl's currency. It's better not to know what you don't know and to un-know what you already do."
But her own choice of staying quiet burns her up on the inside.
Amy Jo Burns is observant and self reflective without being self-centered. Her writing is fluid and beautiful while being as real as it gets.
Narrator, Jorjeanna Marie gives such an unaffected performance that there is no divide between story and reader. It sounds like she's telling her own secrets.
This book deserves to be heard.
Ali Davis keeps a straight face and a kind heart.
For anyone who's been in the retail trenches, or spent time in the sweat-scented aisles of an old fashioned video store, Ali Davis is your voice.
Ali has so much compassion for her customers, while still recognizing the shiftiness and downright unlikability of others. My favorite story is of Ali finding her moment of power, channeling her inner High School Principal and expelling a "jerker" from the porn basement—but things were not what they seemed.
Human nature is laid bare; the politics of singles, couples, and groups; and the "drift" from vanilla to kink. Ali records the faces that people present versus what they rent.
James Wolcott's writing still packs a punch and a guffaw. It's forty years of astute, opinionated cultural criticism. There aren't many writers around who have such a wide range of interests and can keep you eating it up subject by subject.
Here, I was introduced to the slyly subversive humor of Mort Sahl, and reminded that Rock Hudson and Doris Day have a lot more to offer than a punchline to a joke about squares.
Critical Mass is chock-full of cultural milestones, from the infamous Norman Mailer v. Gore Vidal smack-down on the Dick Cavett Show to a fresh new band performing at CBGBs: The Talking Heads. Where else are you going to get such an immediate account of the New York art scene as it happened, as if it were happening RIGHT NOW?
Kevin T. Collin's narration has the air of seen-it-all, intellectual superiority and braggadocio of a long-time writer and critic. Wolcott holds some strong opinions, and Collins delivers them with conviction.
The story of God's dysfunctional relationship with his chosen people.
"Like most marriages, it was a non-sexual affair, but unlike most marriages, it was anything but snoozy and passionless. God's marriage to the Jews was a tempestuous, rancorous affair."
The deadpan, impeccable comedic timing of James Urbaniac had me literally laughing out loud as I listened.
After years of research and translation to pithy modern language,
the authors point out that although so many people are saturated in Bible stories, few remember the absolute zaniness that goes on inside.
If you love the Bible or you love a good Bible satire, it’s just as satisfying.
Vividly written, with thoughtful, perfectly timed narration from Julian Elfer, "Submergence" will stick with me for a long time.
The theme here is depth. Whether it's inward and personal, or literal oceanic depths, the characters are in a constant reckoning; the firsthand experience of global terrorism, love, marine biology, the past and the now.
We first meet James in a windowless room in Somalia, keeping as far from his cardboard covered latrine as he can. His claustrophobic space forces him deeper into his thoughts and memories and his quest to keep a grasp on both dignity and reason.
His great love is Danny, a multi-national Biomathematician. Confident and alone, she's singled out by her background and her intelligence.
Their memories of their fateful meeting in a French hotel keep the book buoyant and is truly thrilling to listen to.
J. M. Ledgard sets the scenes craftily. He conveys the sights and social nuance of place with historical accuracy to build philosophical questions brought up by the intricacies of global life.
This autobiographical novel operates on several levels: a holocaust memoir a thrilling adventure, and a family drama.
Driven from Nazi Germany to Kenya, the family must adjust, with varying levels of success, to life in a completely foreign land. They were glad to be safe from the Nazis, but now had to contend with the racism and anti-semitism of their host nation, and the English colonizers, and also the guilt and worry of what was happening in Europe.
Family dynamics, and the horror and confusion of displacement, are at the heart of this audiobook. The father's haunting guilt, the mother's resistance to change, daughter Regina's embrace of her new land. Africa, from the viewpoint of Regina, seems almost magical and full of possibility, but also completely destabilizing.
Narrator, Max Roll has a wide variety of accents and personalities to contend with, and he does a superb job of making each voice distinct and alive. He brings pathos to the reading that adds tremendously to the story.
Do you consider business writing heartless at worst, and boring at best? August Turak will change your mind. The rather wildly successful Turak takes his lessons from the monks of the Mepkin Abbey and shows how he brought them to work in his business... Fascinating.
What I found especially gratifying were the peeks into the cycles of monastic life. Turak has a keen sense of what motivates and drives people and you see it in his observations here; planting, harvesting, meditation, meals, and also the personalities of the monks who lived there.
Turak narrates himself and does a wonderful job of conveying his interest in the subject and regard for the people he's written about.
Elizabeth Schechter has written a stunner of a an erotic steampunk tale. She explores the roots of eroticism in our psyches, and our turn ons in our fears and in our playfulness. She takes her time revealing nuance and plot, but her confident, sensual prose immediately intrigues.
The idea of exploring the intersection of man and machine is crucial today. Schechter makes us think about it afresh by placing the question in Victorian England. It's part ghost story, part sic-fi, and thoroughly romantic.
Priscilla Carson and Roger Frisk add brilliant performances. Carson's mastery of languid pacing in her voicing of the Succubus gave me chills, and Frisk inhabited his characters. Right away, you could here the authority of class, and the insecurity beneath it. I couldn't wait for his capitulation and release.
Elizabeth Eaves takes you all over the world in this very personal account of her love affair with travel. We see the world through her eyes, but we also see the phenomenon of who we become when we explore a new place alone.
"I traveled for love, and loved to travel, making it hard to disentangle cause from effect." Eaves's motivation is often love, or lust, and really, there is no "right" way to take a personal journey. She fell in love with who she became when she travelled, and the fulfillment she gained from her affairs along the way.
Unguarded and truthful, this audiobook helps reveal the siren's song of travel that's been calling all along. I'm ready to ditch my attachments and set out to find the world.
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