Review: e-books and audiobooks: policing New York, endurance racing
“I’m sitting on dusty earth, my back against a stone wall in a remote village in a remote mountain valley in a remote corner of Nepal.” The descriptions of Nepal will have special resonance because of the recent earthquakes that have devastated areas such as those described in Runner. In 2013, Lizzy Hawker set a world record running from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu. The 320km distance is about twice that of the loop around Mont Blanc, the ultra-marathon that is one of the most gruelling in Europe because competitors climb the height of Everest from sea level and back down again. Runners will enjoy Hawker’s meditation on running as she relives her feats of endurance. In some, like the Mont Blanc race, she had “no concept” of what she was about to do, she writes (she wins it, many times). Hawker’s book suggests hours spent living in her head, when she comes to realise the importance of stepping outside her comfort zone as a runner, but also that running itself has become her comfort zone. Read this book not to feel the pain vicariously of pushing the body, but the joy.
Runner by Lizzy Hawker (Aurum Press) e-book
Residents of 26 Magazine Gap Road will be interested to know that in the mid-1960s one of the Dalai Lama's brothers bought a flat there using Chiang Kai-shek's money. The Cultural Revolution was spilling into the colony and property prices had plummeted, Gyalo Thondup explains in his autobiography. Thondup was here because it was "the best place outside of China to learn what he needed to know" about the country that had annexed his homeland. With help from Anne Thurston, he tells his story in detail, offering a tale of political intrigue. The author, however, warns that this is but one version of history. Thondup - who lives in Kalimpong, a hill station in India, where he owns a noodle-making business - was the only one of five male siblings who did not become a monk. Instead, he was a "secret interlocutor between the CIA and the underground freedom movement in Tibet". He says the American spy agency let the resistance fighters down, which is one reason why he "still resents the US".
The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong by Gyalo Thondup and Anne F. Thurston (Public Affairs) e-book
Steve Osborne is his own best narrator: he knows the stories back to front, he has a New York accent that places him in the city, and he is a born performer - his writing career took off after he braved the stage for The Moth, the non-profit organisation behind storytelling events across the US. The Job is the result. "There's nothing funnier or more terrifying than a good cop story," he says. There's truth in that, although some in his audience may feel that his editors wanted a 1980s/1990s police stereotype for the job: Osborne is a no-nonsense, street-smart type of police officer who communicates with profanity. The reason for that, he says, is that anytime you pull a gun on a person it's stressful for all parties concerned, so you yell like a manic to "shock the s***" out of them. "We want him to think that he's about to die," the cop says. Listeners will be taken into the world of policemen such as Osborne, who love the job because there's no better feeling than taking bad apples off the street. It wouldn't be a stretch to see Osborne writing for television.
The Job by Steve Osborne (Random House Audio) audiobook