Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Secrets of Power Negotiating
(Roger Dawson, 5:01)
I suppose it's always useful to hear people discuss negotiation, since it's endlessly difficult to get it right. This is not a very rigorous treatment, but I didn't mind hearing this, inspite of the corny jokes that were spliced in.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Guards! Guards! Guards!
(Terry Pratchett, 10:30)
Great fun, and very intelligent. I especially enjoyed the absurd discussions around a million to one shot, which is sure to always turn out successfully, but if there's a mistake, and the odds are merely 948,000 to one, there's a certainty that it won't succeed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Condoleeza Rice: An American Life
(Elizabeth Bumiller, 14:09)
It's not easy to admire Condi, and ever since I was a grad student underneath her provost-dom, I've found myself harboring a pretty intense dislike for her careerist singlemindedness. This book shows her to be Bush's Golem, while also revealing how intensely she ran into conflict with both Rumsfeld and Cheney, who felt comfortable bristling with old school sexist attitudes. To know her is not to love her.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Russian Debutante's Handbook
(Gary Shteyngart, 16 hours)
This is just as funny as Absurdistan, and in many ways, just as similar to the later book as it is to itself. I'm surprised that Shteyngart had to write the same book twice to get the recognition he deserves. I mean no criticism in saying Shteyngart's workign the same groove, because it's a hilarious and very interesting groove.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is your brain on music
(Dan Levitin, 6:10, abridged)
Great fun to read, and even though abridged, this audible book had musical demonstrations that would have made The Rest is Noise, and even Musicophilia, much more instructive.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Swimming Pool Library
(Alan Hollinghurst, 14 CDs)
Amazing freshman effort, even more engaging and intricately woven than the Line of Beauty, which had been one of my favorite books of 2005. Hollinghurst handles gay sexuality with as much fascination as Updike brings to infidelity, but I would rate him as much more deft at describing all the details of cruising without creating the awkwardness and embarrassment that I often feel with Updike.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Dead Father
(Donald Barthelme, 256pp)
I've been picnicking with this novel most nights before bed for the past several months. It was a challenge for this seminal book to live up to the vast reputation I attached to it, based on my readings of it 20 years ago. I think it's quite fine, a true delight in parts. I hadn't been sensitive before to how intensely DB's anger is focused upon the father. The physical abuse that convicts the father seered my eyes to read.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
(Oliver Sacks, 9 CDs)
Definitely the best Oliver Sacks book since his signature Man who mistook his wife for a hat. It's fascinating to hear all the ways music can be a life preserver for those who've lost so much of their mind; surely the most fascinating life is Clive Wearing, who has even less capacity to store memory than HM, but still conducts choirs beautifully. Sacks reveals more of his own biography than usual, especially about his own family background.