Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

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In my constant effort to try and become more educated I have been looking for alternate sources of information outside the mainstream media.  Television and internet information is heavily censored and biased in my opinion and the more of it I watch and read, the more stupid I feel.

In an effort to try and broaden my horizons, I have been reading more books.  Well, not exactly reading them.  I have been listening to them.  Since I don’t have enough time in the day to get most of my work / projects done, sitting for 3 hours a day with a book just isn't an option.  So, enter the audio book.  They have been around for years, first on audio cassette, then CD and finally they are downloadable from the internet onto your phone / iPad.

One of the primary uses that I have found for Google Glass is as an audio book listening device.  I can listen to in-depth political analysis or historical autobiographies in one ear while listening to my co-workers drone on and on about the local high school football game last weekend.  

Prior to diving into internet audio books, I went the cheap route and looked for them in thrift stores.  There are a ton of good audio books on cassette for next to nothing if you have a cassette player.  While they are bulky to carry around with you, my old 98 Ford Ranger has a cassette player built into the dash.  It was this lucky coincidence that landed many a well worn cassette audio book in the front passenger seat of my truck.  

One of the best finds in this genre is the audio book referenced above.  Salmon Rushdie’s “The Ground Beneath Her Feet”.  Based on the stickers on the cassette box, this book once belonged to the Tucson Public Library, and then made its way to the Sierra Vista Goodwill store, where I picked it up for $4.

The book is unabridged and is 20 cassettes long.  That translates to about 30 hours of listening.  I just finished the book on my recent trip to Burning Man 2014.  I have been listening to it all summer long.  

This is a bit of an odd book to describe, since it is fiction.  At first I did not know what to make of it, but as I listened more and more it became rather engrossing.  Mr. Rushdie is considered to be a great author and I would agree after listening to this work.  The premise of the book, which follows pop-stars born in India and raised in England and the United States blends fiction and real life events into a quasi-fictional story.  What was really interesting about the book is how Rushdie does this.  In an almost conscious streaming style he ties everything about western and eastern culture together along with shared human experiences that we all have.  He is able to mine all the aspects of multiple cultures into one long narrative which just went on and on.  In the end, almost anyone over the age of 30 could relate to this work.  

The fact that the whole book was read by a well trained English thespian actor did not hurt either.  

So now the book is probably going to head back to Goodwill to see if anyone else is willing to take on the 20 cassette challenge.  Next up on the cassette player, the life of John Quincy Adams.  

In the long run, this has been a successful venture.  I have learned so much more and understand the human condition so much better by listening to these books than by watching the nightly news or getting my information from the Internet.