by Sukey HowardMay 2012
The heart's compass
Tin Win loses his mother when he’s six and his eyesight when he’s 10, but then finds Mi Mi, a beautiful girl who can’t walk. She becomes his eyes and he becomes her feet. Together they find joy and solace and their unique love grows to mythic heights. Jan-Philipp Sendker sets this lovely, haunting tale of loss and love in Kalaw, a hill town in Burma, just before WWII. Its very title, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, hints at the exotic emotional landscape you’re about to enter, and Cassandra Campbell’s gently nuanced reading brings it to life. We hear their story as it is told to Tin Win’s daughter, a young American lawyer trying to find her Burmese father who disappeared from his accomplished New York life four years before. As she sits in a teahouse in Kalaw, U Ba, an older man who says he’s been waiting for her, peels back the layers of time and opens her ears to her father’s heartbeat.
SINS OF THE FATHER
Richard North Patterson’s latest, Fall from Grace, admirably read by Dennis Boutsikaris, explores how families both hurt and protect each other, all wrapped in an insistently compelling whodunit. Ben Blaine, a famous writer adored by his public for his courage, charisma and muscular prose, and abhorred by those closest to him for his womanizing and cruel, domineering behavior, is dead, found beneath his favorite Martha’s Vineyard promontory. Did he jump or was he pushed? That’s what the police and everyone else, including his youngest son, Adam, back on the Vineyard after a 10-year estrangement from his father, wants to know. To his surprise, Adam’s been named executor of the will—a will that disinherits his mother, brother and uncle and leaves everything to Ben’s last lover, a gorgeous, enigmatic actress half his age. Each of the disinherited, and maybe Ben’s lover, has a motive, and Adam has the devastating duty to uphold the will, while doing his utmost to safeguard the family he loves.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
Someone (or something) is messing with hedge fund wizard Alexander Hoffman’s brilliant brain and he’s beginning to feel twinges of fear. But fear is what Alex has programmed the constantly evolving algorithm in his computer program, VIXAL-4, to calculate and act on. And VIXAL-4 has made his hedge fund so successful that his elite clientele is about to invest another billion dollars. We only get Alex for one day, May 6, 2010 (market buffs will remember that momentous “flash crash”), in Robert Harris’ new thriller, The Fear Index. But that’s more than enough to make our own fear index climb, as we move from the wee hours of the morning, when a scruffy intruder bypasses the super-security of Alex’s Geneva mansion, through a whirlwind of mayhem, financial and physical, and Alex’s growing realization that he’s no longer in control, to the blistering end. The Fear Index is fast-paced, fascinating, expertly narrated by Christian Rodska and enhanced by an understandable explanation of how hedge funds actually work.
Listen to an excerpt from The Fear Index: