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Friday, March 20, 2020

Review: The Silver Linings Playbook

I'm not a football fan, nor am I a big fan of modern dance, so it was only through an Amazon promotion that I got a copy of the audio version of The Silver Linings Playbook. Even so, I put off listening to it until I ran out of non-fiction, having had the impression from previous forays into novels via audible that they were boring and couldn't hold my attention.

What Ray Porter (the voice actor reading the novel) proved is that I was completely, utterly wrong. Not only is Ray Porter a great voice, but he actually acted out every voice in the novel differently (including separating the narrator's inner voice from his speaking voice), and presented the entire novel so well that I was sucked into listening to the novel start to finish despite my not being in the ideal audience for the book.

The story revolves around Patrick Peoples, who's just came out of a mental institution and is recovering from a traumatic, undescribed incident in the past. His wife has divorced him, but while he was in the institution he decided that it was because he was an unworthy husband, and has devoted himself to self-improvement, lifting weights, running, and reading the literary novels his ex-wife loved, having been an English teacher.

Moving back in with his parents at the age of 35, he has to negotiate the difficult relationship between his mother and father, catch up with his brother, and catch up with the world, which has changed significantly (to him) in the memory gaps he had while he was in "the bad place." He discovers that his brother got married, that he likes children, and his friends introduce him to a woman, Tiffany, who mysteriously starts running with him in the mornings.

When Tiffany tells him that she can liason with his ex-wife, he jumps at the opportunity, even agreeing to join Tiffany in a modern dance competition in an effort to win, and forgo watching or even talking about Eagles football games. The book then shifts into high gear and has a made-for-Hollywood ending.

The book provides a lot of background and culture about the nature of being a Football fan, and the lengths to which people would go to cheer their team on. It's a piece of American culture I haven't ever gotten into and providing an understanding of how it works is interesting (though hardly essential). What does come through, however, is how much humans (mentally stable or not) are capable of (and willing to) deluding themselves as to the nature of reality, and of course, for me, how important it is that the narrator/reader of an audible book can sustain the story. I came into this audio book skeptical that I could enjoy an audio novel, but came away impressed. That's makes it recommended by any standard.

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