Lena, the transcriptionist, sits alone in a room far away from the hum of the newsroom that is the heart of the Record, the big city newspaper for which she works. For years, she has been the ever-present link for reporters calling in stories from around the world. Hooked up to a machine that turns spoken words to print, Lena is the vein that connects the organs of the paper. She is loyal, she is unquestioning, yet technology is dictating that her days there are numbered.
When she reads a shocking piece in the paper about a Jane Doe mauled to death by a lion, she recognizes the woman in the picture. They had met on a bus just a few days before. Obsessed with understanding what caused the woman to deliberately climb into the lion’s den, Lena begins a campaign for truth that will destroy the Record's complacency and shake the venerable institution to its very foundation. In doing so she also recovers a life - her own.
©2014 Original material Amy Rowland. Recorded by arrangement with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2014 HighBridge Company
“Disturbing and powerful; the skillfully drawn Lena may remind some readers of an existentialist hero.” (Library Journal)
“Rowland’s farcical approach is balanced by the novel’s realistic insights into journalistic integrity, the evolution of contemporary newspaper publishing, and, more broadly, the importance of genuine communication.” (Publishers Weekly)
This is a skillfully-written slip of a story, carefully stuffed with semi-obscure literary references and allusions (don't worry--the author spells them all out for you, you dumb --er, I mean Dear-- Reader).
The narrator/protagonist Lena is likable because she's like what all us close readers imagine ourselves to be: intellectual, introverted, full of quotes from stuff we read and memorized, but also super-sexy and rebellious on the inside.
Rowland uses such fresh language and narration that, prose-wise there's not a cliche to be found anywhere-- until you get to the basic plot, which is so predictable and corny we have to ask ourselves if it's an ironic literary device, because, seriously, are you kidding me?
But overall this was a pleasurable listen for me--but then I like New Yorker short stories a lot.
And Xe Sands narrates this in just the voice I would conjure for Lena--she's well-cast and delivers brilliantly.
The narrator is completely annoying. There is no story and no point. A definite one to skip. A real disappointment.
This is not a book I normally would read, but I passed by it in the bookstore at the right time. The title called out to me as I did a LOT of transcribing for my documentary and my first book, and the transcribing process, while brutal was memorable. So I picked up the audiobook and listened to it on my commute during the week.
I could relate to some of the thoughts that fill your head while you are listening to other people talk over and over...
I guess Lena since we were in her head the most
I got a kick out of Xe's portrayal of Russell... Just kinda a dopey character LOL
No extreme reactions other than getting mad over a too simple solution - a door in NYC just happened to be unlocked?
I did have a "wow thats me" moment when Lena mentioned she was worried the tape was spooling out of her mouth...
Xe Sands was a great performance, but she has a nuance of going soft on the last word of a sentence in Lena's character that was hard to understand
Also, I didnt understand the Mountain Lion sub-plot... Did it get resolved? Why was it in there?
About a quarter of the way through this book, I almost put it down, thinking life is too short to spend in other peoples' depression. However, since I was reading it for a book club, I decided to soldier on. I'm glad it did. I will not say how it ended, but the ending brought a certain serenity and symmetry to it all.
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