Review - ebooks and audiobooks: a North Korean defector, a death in Prague, and mouthing off
Corey Taylor says it best: “Now that everyone has a voice, no one is saying anything that is worth hearing or reading.” That includes him, at least in this book, which is his platform for mouthing off about anything that annoys him. If he were funny, all would be forgiven. But if you take away the profanity and the long-winded anecdotes, his observations are little deeper than puddles: so he hates Justin Bieber’s saggy britches, men wearing dress shoes without socks; the stress of flying; and bad driving. He also takes aim at modern parents who try to fit in with their kids and their friends; women who fall for saccharine romcoms; and brats who grow up with a sense of entitlement. Then there are the mums who cannot see that their babies are “fugly” and the awful Glee. Dissing the TV show allows him to expound on pop music. Every song is the same, he moans, and that’s because they are all attached to products someone wants you to buy, which is an interesting observation. Unfortunately, there are few others.
You’re Making Me Hate You by CoreyTaylor (Da Capo Press) e-book
Think stage-diving at concerts is cool? D. Randall Blythe, vocalist in the American heavy metal band Lamb of God, will persuade you otherwise in his moving book Dark Days. In 2010, during a performance in Prague, a teenage fan, seemingly off his head, got on stage and, after a tussle with Blythe, was allegedly pushed to his tragic death. How the man came to hit his head and whether Blythe was culpable are not really the focus of the memoir, however. What readers will take away is how something like that can affect you. When Blythe was arrested two years later, the news of the death came as a shock; compounding the angst was that he couldn't remember much about the incident. Blythe, an alcoholic, acknowledges he has a tendency to predict horrific outcomes even before events have happened. So he was already considering the consequences of a 10-year jail sentence. Gritty and believable, the book reveals the life of a "budget rock star" and what it's like to have a drink problem. It succeeds by sharing insights into common human suffering.
Dark Days by D. Randall Blythe (Da Capo Press) e-book
There is no shortage of books about North Korean defectors, such is the appetite for information about life in the Hermit Kingdom. Like others before it, The Girl With Seven Names reveals not just a different country but "another universe", one in which nothing existed before Great Leader Kim Il-sung, in whose presence flowers bloomed. In addition to memories of ideological indoctrination, there are tales of the 1990s famine and other horrors: Hyeonseo Lee witnessed an execution by hanging when she was just seven. Her book chronicles her escape in 1997 to live with relatives in China, her move to South Korea 10 years later, at age 28, and her efforts to secure the freedom of her family. Corrupt policemen, crooked brokers, money-grubbing smugglers and other undesirables fill the pages. Lee, too, shows herself to be opportunistic, once dating, under false pretences, a Korean-Chinese policeman who didn't know she was one of the North Korean escapees he liked to capture.
The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee with David John; read by Josie Dunn (HarperCollins) audiobook