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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#23 - Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Title:  Invisible Man
Author:  Ralph Ellison
Genre:  Fiction
Read by:  Joe Morton
Publisher/Date:  Random House/Books on Tape/1999
Dates listened to:  4/17/17 – 5/31/17
CDs/Hours:  16/18.5
ISBN: 978-0-307-91513-9

 I found it hard to get into this story – too much yelling and screaming and difficult to follow.  Finally it settled down and I found myself wanting to know more about the black man who moved to the North from the South to better himself.  This man’s journey is not unlike what people of all ethnic groups have gone through, are going through and will continue to experience.  

Ellison describes all types of situations of invisibility.  Our nameless protagonist ushers readers and especially listeners into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief.  Our hero experiences a type of invisibility by being mistaken for another black man, finds himself lost in Harlem’s sewer system during a riot.  When he awakes he realizes that he was not only virtually in the dark but in a place where he couldn’t return to any part of his old life.  He would spend some time thinking things out in peace and quiet.  He would take up residence underground.  The end was in the beginning.

Narrator Joe Morton does a fantastic job of voicing each character so convincingly and in such a wide range I was consistently turning my car’s CD player’s volume up and down.

#22 - Monster Mash - Jennifer L. Holm

Title:  Monster Mash
Author:  Jennifer L. Holm
Genre:  Graphic
Publisher/Date: Random House/2008
ISBN:  978-0-375-8438707 
Dates read:  5/26/17 – 5/29/17
Pages:  91

Ninth in the Babymouse series, Babymouse can’t decide what to wear for her Halloween costume.  All she knows is that it HAS to be scary!  She’s at the costume store and one of her so-called fat cat friends from school tells her that girls have to be pretty for Halloween.  It’s a RULE.  Only boys can be scary, he says.

Her friend Wilson is more sympathetic.  And her mom tells her she can have a Halloween party after trick-or-treating.  She mentions this at lunch the next day at school.  She’s only planned on some close friends like Wilson, Duckie, Georgie.  Before she can blink an eye the so-called fat cat friend invites himself and some other unsavory characters.   Soon things are really getting out of hand.

Finally Halloween arrives and Babymouse is wearing a costume she detests and goes trick-or-treating and finds herself sucking in again to another RULE.  The so-called fat cat friend insists on toilet papering a neighbor’s house.   The fat cat determines that it’s not called trick-or-treating for nothing and begins handing out raw eggs to be thrown at people’s houses.  Babymouse finally tells the group it’s time to go to her house for the party.  That’s when fat cat must have more candy and snatches and grabs a couple kids’ candy sacks. 

Babymouse has had quite enough of this character’s antics and takes matters into her own hands.  Redemption prevails and Babymouse settles the score once and for all.  She’s come up with some RULES of her own!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

#21 - Augustus - John Williams

Title:  Augustus
Author:  John Williams
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Performed by:  Robin Field
Publisher/Date:  Blackstone Audio/2011
Dates listened to:  4/29/17 – 5/20/17
CDs/Hours:  12/14.5
ISBN: 9 78144 774538

At one point in his life Octavius Caesar thought he would be touted as divine because his subjects loved him so much.  And he was a great leader and his philosophy rang true.  For example, he felt that in order to lead well he needed to examine and be right with himself.  He even imagined what the mausoleum would look like after his death.
This historical fiction was well researched by Williams and is based upon memoirs, letters and memoranda of Cleopatra, Mark Anthony, Virgil and other communique between various other well-known personages of the time.  Only eighteen years old when his Uncle Julius Caesar is murdered, Octavius inherits rule of the Roman Empire.  Surrounded by men jockeying for power – Brutus, Cassius, Cicero -- the young Octavius works against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as the first Roman emperor.  This book tells the story of one man’s dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy.  

I liked that insights from the teachers and other professionals of the time were also included in this story.  And I was pleasantly surprised that I like the book better than I thought I would.  But then Williams is a consummate story- teller, so why wouldn’t I?