Thursday, August 14, 2008

Unforseen consequences

There are many works of nonfiction out there that do not lend themselves easily to the audio format. Car repair manuals, for instance. ("What did he say? Which nut am I supposed to loosen? Don't cut which wire?"). However, there is such an animal as literary nonfiction - books based on fact, but written with a flowing narrative style - that fits well with audio. We have two new examples of this on our audiobook shelves: books in which the author/protagonist finds himself caught up in a situation he did not expect.
The Monster of Florence is by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. Preston, who has written a number of successful thrillers with Lincoln Child, moves his family to a villa in Florence. Upon finding out that he is now living next to a murder scene - a murder committed by a mysterious serial killer - Preston makes the fateful decision to investigate the crime with the help of journalist Mario Spezi. Things become truly strange when Preston and Spezi find they are being investigated themselves - by the Italian police.
The Soloist: a lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music is an interesting account of an unlikely friendship between L.A. Times journalist Steve Lopez and a homeless schizophrenic who was once a student at Juilliard. Lopez wrote a series of newspaper articles about this troubled musician Nathaniel Ayers, and during the course of his encounters with him, Lopez comes to believe that he can help change Ayers' life. And here, of course, is where Lopez deals with true challenges and heartbreak. The Soloist fleshes out the backstory behind the newspaper columns, and lets the listener in on the world of schizophrenia. This book is being made into a movie starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

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