An explosive novel exposing the inner workings of conservative talk radio and campaign politics from New York Times best-selling author and one of America's leading talk-radio hosts and political commentators, Michael Smerconish.
Stan Powers finds himself at a crossroads. Poised to take the last step in his unlikely ascent to the top of conservative talk radio, his conscience may not let him. Set amid the backdrop of "the most important presidential election of our lifetime", Powers - as the most influential voice in Tampa’s hotly contested I-4 Corridor - holds the key to Florida, and therefore the Oval Office. His on-air attacks singlehandedly put an abrupt end to the top candidates' main competitors in the primaries, and now he is in the singular position to influence who wins the highest elected office in the world. Will he continue playing the game according to his cynical advisors, or listen to his own conscience and drop an even bigger bomb than expected?
With a story that could have been ripped from the headlines, deeply developed characters and interconnected plotlines, and one of the most shocking and rewarding denouements you’ll ever experience, this is the perfect political thriller for today’s America.
©2014 Michael A. Smerconish (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Retired high school principal. Currently, I am a University Professor. Historic fiction is my preferred literature style.
Great performance, instructive story about how talk radio industry works. Language was more vulgar than expected.
Stan was a compelling character.
Stan professional coach was cool
The presenter did a great job. He was able to convey the feeling of the different characters in the books with only slight inflections of his voice.
Wouldn't listen through in one sitting. That would be a really long car ride. That said, I looked forward to getting in the car to continue the story.
Great light reading that gives you a little behind the scenes glimpse of how the talk radio world operates.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Michael Smerconish knows talk radio. He has hosted his own political talk show for a decade and a half and now has his own show on CNN after years as a talking head on other political TV shows. And he knows something else that is central to the story contained in his first (and to date only) novel -- what it's like to abandon the lucrative field of right wing talk radio, as well as the Republican Party, to try to find a civil and sustainable independent middle ground.
Talk recounts the role played by a rising star in conservative talk radio, Stan Powers, during a contentious presidential campaign. I don't want to give anything away, but Powers battles a crisis of conscience from start to finish -- what he's willing to do to further his personal ambition vs. what he knows is the ethical alternative. In the process, Smerconish gives us an insider's view of talk radio, demolishing it -- not an expose per se, because all he is really doing is confirming what we already know about talk radio.
The beauty of his story is in the details -- the details of how Powers crafts his career as a talking head, how a talk show (and the talk radio industry) works, and most entertainingly, how his fictional presidential campaign unfolds. James Edward Thomas comes through for us in this first person narration by capturing Smerconish's well-known voice -- not in timbre, Thomas's voice being deeper and rougher, but in tone.
Two minor points of quibble that cost Smersh a star: he is a talking head, not a writer (his five nonfiction titles notwithstanding), so I should not expect him to be Hemingway, but I did long for a bit more show and little less tell -- there is too much exposition that could've been dramatized rather than narrated (great example: instead of telling us what each candidate stands for, let them do that themselves during the debate that Smerconish does in fact dramatize). His last chapter, while containing good stuff, is also too much tell and no show (and too preachy), especially since it comes after Stan has made his ethical decisions.
The other thing, more in terms of Smerconish's stance rather than in his story or writing, is his frequent fallback on false equivalency. He should know better, his story being Exhibit A -- most of the ills he describes, in talk radio and TV news, in political campaigning and policy setting, emanate from one side. False equivalency is the gratuitous assumption that both sides are equally complicit, but if you look at the facts and do the math, the ratio is in fact far from 50-50, skewed more like 70-30 or more.
Well, you can tell from that last paragraph which side I fall on. If you're coming from the other end of the spectrum, you are going to find that this story comes out of a different part of the horse than its mouth. I would still recommend you listen to it. You may end up taking the same road Smerconish took, restoring moderation in place of polarization. For everyone else, especially the silent majority of independent thinkers, this may be a case of preaching to the choir, but it is both entertaining and illuminating.
I loved this book and listened to it twice. if you are familiar with talk radio, and don't have a dog on the fight over politics, then you will likely enjoy this story.
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
An interesting read. One part political drama one part mystery, “Talk” delivers a fun story for both those who love politics and feel abandoned by the political process, but probably better for those in the center or left. The characters are flawed but interesting and the writing is excellent. There’s not a lot of action but the story really moves and makes you think.
Mr. Thomas does a great job bringing all the characters to life.
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