Audiobook Review: Nine Kinds of Naked

Nine Kinds of Naked
Author: Tony Vigorito
Narrator: Kristin Kalbli
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (Disclaimer)
Length: 11 hours 47 min
Where I Got It: ListenUp
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Synopsis: Join cult favorite Tony Vigorito in his acclaimed, surreal whirlwind of a novel exploring chaos theory. A prisoner spins a playing card into a somersault, stirring a wind that becomes a tornado that takes off the roof of a church in nearby Normal, Illinois. Elizabeth Wildhack is born in that church and someday she will meet that prisoner, a man named Diablo, on the streets of New Orleans—where a hurricane-like Great White Spot hovers off the coast. But how is it all interconnected? And what does it have to do with a time-traveling serf and a secret society whose motto is “Walk away?”

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this review for awhile because I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I knew going in that this book was pretty out-there and unusual. After the audiobook was finished, it was sent to Tom Robbins, who had this to say:

“Tony Vigorito has created that rarity…, a novel of ideas that also happens to be entertaining. And yes, fun. And like those maverick classics, Alice in Wonderland and Gargantua, Nine Kind of Naked is as fanciful and inventive in its form, its structure, as it is in its observations. Like Hesse’s ‘magic theater,’… it fed tasty crackers to all the hungry parrots in my mental aviary.” – Tom Robbins

So, I knew it was some kind of special. I expected humor and weirdness. And, those two things were there, but I didn’t expect this book to be so soothing.

Nine Kinds of Naked explores the butterfly effect, except the butterfly is actually the wind. A very strong wind. A tornado. Its effects reach across time and the lives touched by it intertwine. The quirky character are developed through their philosophical banter. Vigorito uses language beautifully and powerfully. The whole thing made me smile.

It may feel a bit random in the beginning, but the characters various story lines eventually come together brilliantly.

This audiobook was published by ListenUp Audiobooks, where I work. So, I got to hear the narrator auditions. One in particular stuck out as absolutely hilarious, but we decided that it was too funny. It worked for one scene, but might not be a really pleasant listen for nearly 12 hours. Before listening to this, I was still on the fence about our decision, but now I’m confident that Kristin was the right choice. The overall story was such an unexpected joy and her voice was a perfect fit. I loved her character voices, especially Diablo and Elizabeth. I loved listening to scenes with both of them.

I really love this audiobook. I didn’t work on it directly, but I’m proud that it came from ListenUp. We also published another of Vigorito’s audiobooks, Just a Couple of Days, which I haven’t listened to yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

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Audiobook Review: Binary Star

Binary Star ACXAudiobook Review

Binary Star
Author: Sarah Gerard
Narrator: Sarah Gerard
Where I got it: ListenUp (my employer)
Length: 3 hours
Purchase: ListenUp | Audible
GoodReads
Synopsis: The language of the stars is the language of the body. Like a star, the anorexic burns fuel that isn’t replenished; she is held together by her own gravity.

With luminous, lyrical prose, Binary Star is an impassioned account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and her long-distance, alcoholic boyfriend. On a road-trip circumnavigating the United States, they stumble into a book on veganarchism, and believe they’ve found a direction.

Binary Star is an intense, fast-moving saga of two young lovers and the culture that keeps them sick (or at least inundated with quick-fix solutions); a society that sells diet pills, sleeping pills, magazines that profile celebrities who lose weight or too much weight or put on weight, and books that pimp diet secrets or recipes for success.
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Audiobook Review: The Good Life Elsewhere

The Good Life Elsewhere
Author: Vladimir Lorchenkov
Format: Audiobook (ListenUp Title – disclaimer)
Narrator: Daniel Thomas May
SynopsisThe Good Life Elsewhere is a very funny book. It is also a very sad one. In it, Moldovan writer Vladimir Lorchenkov tells the story of a group of villagers and their tragicomic efforts, against all odds and at any cost, to emigrate from Europe’s most impoverished nation to Italy for work. This is a book with wild imagination and heartbreaking honesty, grim appraisals alongside optimistic commentary about the nature of human striving. The Good Life Elsewhere aims to present the complexity of a new Europe, where allegiances shift but memories are rooted in place. The book integrates small-scale human follies with strategic partnerships, unification plans, and the Soviet legacies that still hang over the former East Bloc. Lorchenkov addresses the vexing question of what to do when many formerly pro-Soviet/pro-Russia countries want to link arms with their West European brethren. In Lorchenkov’s uproarious tale, an orthodox priest is deserted by his wife for an art-dealing atheist; a mechanic redesigns his tractor for travel by air and sea; thousands of villagers take to the road on a modern-day religious crusade to make it to the promised land of Italy; meanwhile, politicians remain politicians. Like many great satirists from Voltaire to Gogol to Vonnegut, Lorchenkov makes use of the grotesque to both horrify us and help us laugh. It is not often that stories from forgotten countries such as Moldova reach us in the English-speaking world. A country where 25 percent of its population works abroad, where remittances make up nearly 40 percent of the GDP, where alcohol consumption per capita is the highest in the world, and which has the lowest per capita income in all of Europe – this is a country that surely has its problems. But, as Lorchenkov also aptly shows, it’s a country whose residents don’t easily give up.

Review: The Good Life Elsewhere takes us on a miserable trek from Moldova to Italy and back again over and over. It’s miserable for the Moldovan villagers desperate to emigrate to Italy, but it’s a wonderful read for the rest of us. The story finds humor and irony in horrible situations and I was surprised that the comedy translated so well. The villagers’ attempts to improve their life, by leaving behind the ones they have, are range from downright stupid ideas to strokes of brilliance in their creativity and in their ingenuity. The stories are incredibly bleak, but the book still instills hope.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Daniel Thomas May, and loved it. His characterizations were amazing! For an American narrator to develop such a variety of unique Moldovan voices was very impressive. You don’t need to know a thing about Moldova to connect with these characters. Great book.