Sunday 21 January 2018

Books, audiobooks and treats on a foggy morning...

It’s foggy and mild this morning, and with threats of freezing rain tomorrow, I’m trying to savour the warm, dry comfort of my home as I sip my steaming cup of chai tea and nibble on a delicious Date Bar.

I have two books to tell you about today.  I’ll start with the audiobook I finished listening to last week, The Litigators by John Grisham.  I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by this bestselling author, as his books have never really held any appeal for me.  But I have enjoyed the narrator of this book, Dennis Boutsikaris, in the past, so I decided to give it a try, and while it was the kind of non-stop, action-packed, “all plot, no character development” legal thriller that I was expecting, it was really quite an enjoyable listening experience.  The novel opens with David Zinc, a young lawyer working in a huge firm in Chicago, deciding he can’t stand another 18-hour day in his dark, windowless cubicle.  He turns around, gets back in the elevator, heads to the first open bar he can find at 7:30 in the morning, and proceeds to get very, very drunk.   Finally, in the middle of the day, the bartender puts him in a cab, and, not yet ready to head home and face his wife, he sees an ad on the side of a bus for “Finley and Figg”, a small law firm not far from where David’s cab is, so he asks the driver to take him there.  Oscar Finley and Wally Figg run a two-man operation (they refer to themselves as a “boutique” firm) based mostly on cases acquired through less-than-honourable means.  They can barely keep their heads above water, but Wally thinks he’s found yet another (sure-to-fail!) get-rich-quick mass tort lawsuit against a big pharmaceutical company over Krayoxx, a drug designed to lower cholesterol, but whose side effects, Wally believes, may increase the risk of heart attack.  When David stumbles into the offices of “Finley and Figg”, totally inebriated yet wanting a job, Wally thinks they could use an extra body to handle the huge case that is sure to develop over Krayoxx, so they take him on.  What ensues is a classic story of David and Goliath, and the reader is treated to a fast-paced legal battle whose outcome could go either way and the tone is suspenseful right up to the proclamation of the verdict.  It was fun to listen to, not serious in any way, and sometimes that’s what we need, right?  Something that doesn’t make us think too hard or contemplate life’s deeper issues.  If that’s what you think you need, then this is the book for you!  I can’t compare it to any of his other books, but it was enjoyable enough, and the narrator really brought the story to life.  

A light audiobook offered the perfect balance for the book I was reading last week, Coming Down from Wa by Canadian author Audrey Thomas.  I read another book by this author a few years ago, Local Customs, which I really enjoyed (I liked it so much I bought it new and paid full price!), and I noticed this book as I was wandering around in a used book store a few weekends ago.  I ended up borrowing it from the library, and read it in just a few days.  In this novel, we follow William Kwane MacKenzie as he searches for the answers to the questions his parents refuse to discuss, namely, what happened in Africa when William was just a baby to make them loathe each other.  Growing up in Victoria, BC, he has always noticed the way his parents could barely stand to interact with one another, and he got away as soon as he was old enough to do so, heading to Montreal to go to university and spend time with his paternal grandfather, who can provide little information to enlighten him about his past.  Determined to pursue this quest, he travels to Africa with his model-girlfriend, and while she heads off on a modelling shoot on the Ivory Coast, he heads north, towards Wa, which I gathered is near Ghana, to visit the school where his parents first worked as volunteers, and where they met and fell in love.  His journey is not without challenges, many of them bizarre and unusual, and he meets many different characters along the way, some that help and some that hinder, but all important parts of this journey not only to discover his past, but to discover himself.  I can’t say I loved this book, but it was an interesting and worthwhile read, a window into that time period (set in the 1980s), one that causes the reader to reflect upon the many difficulties in Africa, and what, if any, are the solutions (this is why a light, frivolous audiobook was a good balance!).  I was in a bit of a hurry to finish it because I had to get started on the selection for my Friends’ book club meeting tomorrow night, so I couldn’t spend as much time thinking about these as thoroughly as I probably should have, which is funny, as I still haven’t finished my book club book, and we may need to postpone our meeting due to the weather tomorrow.  Anyway, Coming Down from Wa was an interesting read, and while the ending did not leave this reader feeling completely satisfied, it was certainly not a waste of my reading time.

That’s all for today.  Try to get outside before the freezing rain starts!

Bye for now…

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