Clemency…

I just removed 32 books from my “To Blog About” List. 32. Most of these were re-reads, and a good number of them were audiobooks. For the most part, with the audiobooks, I’ve written something on the text version and have nothing really to add other than a comment or two on the narration — and there are only so many ways I can say that George Guidall has really grown on me (and I can’t imagine anyone else doing the Walt Longmire books now), or Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the perfect match for Peter Grant, or that Lorelei King and Luke Daniels just blew me away with their work.

Another example would be my re-read of The Rook by Daniel O’Malley — I took pages of notes on my re-read of that in preparation for the release of the sequel, Stiletto. Then my life got busy and not only did I not get around to taking those notes and making them into a longer-than-normal post, Stiletto sits on my shelf, unread. That’s driving me crazy.

There were a couple of non-re-reads on that shelf, too — but I never figured out how to take my one or two thoughts on the books and turn them into something interesting to read/write, and enough time has passed that I have to admit that it’s just not going to happen.

I still have too many books on that list, but I’ve gotta tell you, the (totally self-imposed) burden being lifted feels great.

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Death Without Company (Audiobook) by Craig Johnson, George Guidall

Death Without CompanyDeath Without Company

by Craig Johnson, George Guidall
Series: Walt Longmire, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs. and 51 mins
Recorded Books, 2007
Read: June 7- 12, 2017

Everything to do with women is foolish, and, therefore, absolutely essential.

This novel picks up a couple of weeks after The Cold Dish, with Walt still trying to get his head on straight — and it’s not going to well. The major impetus for him now is the impending arrival of his daughter, Cady, for a visit over the holidays. There was enough of a gap between the time I read the first two installments in this series that I missed a lot of the ties that connected the two. I appreciated a lot of the little nuances this time through the novel that I’d missed the first time.

Otherwise, I pretty much agree with what I said before:

The atmosphere of the book, the relationships between Vic, the Ferg, Henry, Cady and Walt are effortless, they feel like coworkers and friends. So even when the bodies start to pile up, the external pressures mount, and answers are in short supply, there’s an ease to things that make the book more entertaining than it could’ve been. Even as Sheriff, Walt still comes across as deferential and secondary to his former boss Lucian Connally (though he doesn’t hesitate to put his foot down when necessary).

When Lucian tells Walt in no uncertain terms that a death in the retirement home he lives in is not from natural causes, he has to investigate. Even if he’s not entirely convinced. It’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Lucian’s right — otherwise, we wouldn’t have a novel to read. Which takes Walt on a journey through the murky history of both one of Walt’s oldest friends and the area he calls home — this time with a different minority group as the focus (though the Rez and its inhabitants are always lurking around in the background).

There’s a new romantic interest in these pages — as well as a couple of new deputies for Absaroka County (the particular skill set of one of these is a bit too deus ex machina-y for my tastes, but he’s so likable, who cares?). Throw in the kind of snow storm you can only get in rural Wyoming (or areas like it) and some brushes with Indian spirituality, and you get a distinctive kind of mystery novel, making the adventures of Walt Longmire and his cohorts the kind of story you can get nowhere else. It won’t take me as long to come back to this series next time.

Guidall took awhile to grow on me in the first book — but now he’s just what Walt sounds like (I imagine when I read a Longmire book the voice in my head will be some sort of blend between Guidall and Robert Taylor). I thought he did a great job all around.

This novel took the foundation that Johnson laid and started building on it so that it could become the series we all love. I’m glad I got a chance to revisit it, and recommend those that haven’t tried it yet to come on down to Absaroka County.

—–

3.5 Stars

United States of Books – The Accidental Tourist (Audiobook) by Anne Tyler, George Guidall

The Accidental TouristThe Accidental Tourist

by Anne Tyler, George Guidall (Narrator)

Author: Serena Agusto-Cox at Savvy Verse & Wit

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, narrated by George Guidall, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1985 before being made into a movie with William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis. Maryland resident, Macon Leary, is a very particular man, he likes things to be orderly and things to be pronounced just so. Even though he is a travel writer, he hates traveling and much of his column and his books are how-to guides on how to bring home with you when you vacation. His marriage to Sarah falls apart following the tragic death of their son, and she moves out. Following a freak accident at home with his dog, Edward, Macon moves in with his brothers and sister — all odd ducks in similar, yet different ways. How anyone could handle of the weirdness is something the wives have talked about before and some have even given up their marriages to escape.

Macon is tough to take throughout the novel until his world is thrown into a spin when he meets dog trainer and jack-of-all-trades Muriel. In addition to Macon, Tyler has a cast of vivid characters, including Macon’s boss Julian. However, the pacing here is slow and Macon is slow to evolve, which is frustrating. His routines in life are so far ingrained into his character that it is very difficult for him to adjust to even the smallest changes. When he’s thrown into a different way of living, he’s still clinging to the old life he had and even as he opens up and moves forward with his life, he is completely unaware. Tragically, he takes no action of his own accord and things just happen to him and he adjusts as best he can.

In terms of place, as this is the book picked to represent Maryland, there is very little of my current home state in its pages. While Macon is referred to as a resident of Baltimore on a few occasions, there is very little of the city I’ve come to know in these pages. The descriptions given could be of many towns across the United States, and where he and his family live doesn’t even seem like Baltimore, a city with its downtrodden, littered streets and high crime as well as its cultural connection to Edgar Alan Poe and Frederick Douglass, one of the most gifted activists during the Civil War era.

Douglass learned how to read in Baltimore, and while Macon and his family are quirky and troubled, they do not speak to the civil rights struggles in a state between the sides, nor do they speak to the other leaders of social movements, including Gertrude Stein. There is a great sense in Maryland’s literary heritage that lives change here, their perspective evolve and they move on to greater things. There is not sense of that here, just as there is no sense of suburban life in Maryland, which is as varied as the cultures and incomes found within its borders.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, narrated by George Guidall, is a slow moving novel, much like its main character, Macon, as it is slow to evolve and move beyond the humdrum routines of a rigid travel writer who hates to travel. The narrator does well in his portrayal of Macon, and his voice and timber set the tone that Tyler has given in her prose. While there are some amusing moments with the quirkier characters, Macon is hard to like and his slow evolution is tough to take.

Rating: Couplet