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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
Jules Verne
The Spirit of the Border
Zane Grey
Ramona the Brave (Ramona, #3)
Beverly Cleary
The Underground Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Ross Macdonald
Delilah of the Snows
Harold Bindloss
Mrs. Miniver
Jan Struther
Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)
Maud Hart Lovelace
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace

The Fly on the Wall (Audio)

The Fly on the Wall (Audio) - Tony Hillerman, Erik Bergmann I've never "read" an audio book before. I was going to a handbell festival several hours away, and figured I could "read" this book while I was driving there and back. Unfortunately, I only got about 2/3rds through by the time I got back. So, I had to finish up by lying idly on the deck with ear buds in my ears.

One problem, I've discovered with audio books is you miss stuff, and can't really go back to check. So there were things that made no sense, probably because I'd missed something earlier in the lead up.

For example, I don't really know where this book took place. Something in the beginning said something about a gritty midwestern city of 400,000 or so people. But much of the activity took place in the capitol building, which I inferred to be located in the capital city of the state in question. Well, the word Santa Fe showed up early, and that's the capital of New Mexico, but Santa Fe isn't even 100,000 people in size. Neither is New Mexico midwestern by my reckoning. For a while I thought Albuquerque, which is the proper size, but which is not the capital. So, perhaps we're in Arizona, where the capital is Phoenix? But Phoenix is certainly not midwestern. Also, it's population in 1971, when this book came out was close to 600,000. So, I've no idea. Then too, if I remember correctly, the main character flew from whatever city was involved to Santa Fe, but somehow went through O'Hare, which is the airport associated with Chicago. How does that make sense? A final confusion is that the person who wrote the book blurb on GoodReads said the action took place at the nation's capitol building, which is in Washington, D.C., a city that is neither midwestern, nor does it have a mere population of 400,000. The U.S. Capitol really makes no sense because the whole plot is about state politics, but what state? where?

So, I might have missed something, or perhaps Hillerman was intentionally confusing things...to protect the suspects...or something. Adding to the confusion, of course, is that Hillerman is best known for his works about the Navajo policemen, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The Navajo reservation is primarily in the four-corners region of Arizona, although bits of it extend into Utah and New Mexico. Anyway, I got confused quickly.

Ok, on to the story, which was sort of interesting. We have John Cotton, a journalist who covers state politics. He's working at night when another journalist, Merrill McDaniels, wanders into the press room totally blotto. But Mac does tell Cotton that he has rather a large scoop to publish which will set the state political machine on their butt. Some time after McDaniels leaves the press room, Cotton hears a loud noise and upon investigation discovers that McDaniels is lying 5 floors below him, splattered on the floor of the capitol rotunda. Just an accident?

Well, another journalist borrows Cotton's car and is run off a bridge and into a river. Just an accident, or was someone gunning for Cotton? In the interim, Cotton had garnered McDaniels' note book and was starting to check some leads. So, he was beginning to unravel a story of corruption in the highway department and several other branches of the state government.

Then, Cotton gets a death threat and decides to flee. He goes fishing in the mountains above Santa Fe, but discovers someone with a high-power rifle hunting for him.

Well, things go on. Eventually Cotton gets it all figured out, and there is a big shake up in state government, and Cotton may or may not find a way to snuggle up to Janie Janovsky, on whom he's been sweet since high school (I think that's the case, but as I said, one can't check things out in an audio book).

Well, sorry to write such an incoherent review, but I think that might be the norm with audio books. They sort of pass through, and whether or not one actually understands all that much appears to be a feature rather than a bug. But, all said, it's an ok way to while away the time on a long drive to and from Hartford.