“There There” by Tommy Orange, nar­rated by Dar­rell Den­nis, Shaun Tay­lor-Cor­bett, Alma Cuervo and Kyla Gar­cia, Ran­dom House, 8 hours

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Books -

“The Com­ing Storm” by Michael Lewis, nar­rated by Lewis, Au­di­ble, 2:27

The ti­tle of Michael Lewis’ lat­est work, “The Com­ing Storm,” a story about bu­reau­cracy in the hands of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, is a metaphor for what may re­sult from this pres­i­dency’s con­trol of the U.S. De­part­ment of Com­merce. Lewis, an en­gag­ing reader as well as writer, shows what’s at stake when the de­part­ment is led by in­dif­fer­ent or self-in­ter­ested man­agers. Com­merce has much more to do with data gath­er­ing than busi­ness, and much of the data in­volves weather. “With­out that data, and the Weather Ser­vice that made sense of it,” Lewis writes, “no plane would fly, no bridge would be built, and no war would be fought, at least not well.”

The story here fol­lows the pat­tern of Lewis’ re­port­ing in Van­ity Fair about the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bum­bling takeovers of the U.S. De­part­ment of En­ergy and the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture. Al­though the Com­merce De­part­ment lacks the ex­plo­sive po­ten­tial of the DOE, the pre­dic­tion busi­ness and the de­struc­tive force of storms, par­tic­u­larly tor­na­does, means that bad de­ci­sions here have lethal long-range con­se­quences. Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Wil­bur Ross comes across as un­in­formed and un­in­ter­ested — and a lit­tle dis­hon­est. An­other pro­posed Trump ap­pointee, Barry My­ers, CEO of Ac­cuweather, seems mo­ti­vated only by naked self-in­ter­est at the ex­pense of tax­pay­ers. Al­to­gether, there’s a lot of de­tail to ab­sorb here.

Tommy Orange’s de­but novel, “There There,” pro­vides a glimpse into a world that rarely gets at­ten­tion: ur­ban Na­tive Amer­i­cans. It de­serves an ex­cel­lent group of ac­tors and ex­pe­ri­enced nar­ra­tors to ren­der its story — and it gets one in this pro­duc­tion. “We know the sound of the free­way bet­ter than we do rivers, the howl of dis­tant trains bet­ter than wolf howls, we know the smell of gas and freshly wet con­crete and burned rub­ber bet­ter than we do the smell of cedar or sage,” Orange writes.

The set­ting is Oak­land, Calif., and Orange spins the sto­ries of a dozen peo­ple head­ing to a pow­wow. Orvil Red Feather (Shaun Tay­lorCor­bett) has to learn na­tive danc­ing in se­cret us­ing YouTube be­cause the aunt who cares for him has kept him and his two broth­ers “from do­ing any­thing In­dian. … ‘Too many risks,’ she’d said.” His mother, Jacquie Red Feather (Alma Cuervo), who’s only just quit drink­ing, is mak­ing her way back to the sons she aban­doned years ear­lier. Dene Ox­en­dene (Dar­rell Den­nis) is film­ing In­di­ans in Oak­land telling their sto­ries. Daniel Gon­za­les (Tay­lor-Cor­bett) fig­ures out how to use a printer to make guns. In set­ting up this tale, Orange deals with the cliches about In­di­ans, the ugly his­tory, and the ubiq­uity of In­dian images. Fit­tingly, most of the nar­ra­tors, like the au­thor, are Na­tive Amer­i­can. “The Ruin” by Dervla McTier­nan, nar­rated by Aoife McMahon, Blackstone, 10:25

If a sin­gle-voice nar­ra­tion is go­ing to go wrong, it will be in a scene fea­tur­ing sev­eral speak­ers. Some nar­ra­tors avoid any prob­lem by cre­at­ing dis­tinct voices — think of it as toned-down Mel Blanc. Oth­ers rely on voices that dif­fer slightly in pitch or tone. The re­sult is of­ten char­ac­ters who are dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish from one an­other. So it’s notable that Aoife McMahon, who’s taken the sub­tler road, man­ages mul­ti­ple char­ac­ters eas­ily in Dervla McTier­nan’s de­but po­lice pro­ce­dural, “The Ruin.”

De­tec­tive Cor­mac Reilly has re­turned to Gal­way, Ire­land, from more pres­ti­gious de­tec­tive work in Dublin. His new col­leagues treat him with am­ple re­sent­ment, and he’s as­signed to cases so cold, ev­ery­one in the file is dead. Then he’s asked to in­ves­ti­gate an old overdose case. Twenty years ear­lier, he was the rookie who han­dled the call. Wet be­hind the ears, Reilly was told he was re­spond­ing to a do­mes­tic. In­stead he found a di­lap­i­dated manor and two skinny chil­dren, Jack and his sis­ter, Maude. Up­stairs was the corpse of their mother. The cause of death seemed ob­vi­ous: A sy­ringe with traces of heroin lay be­side the body. Twenty years later, the boy from that case has com­mit­ted sui­cide, and the sis­ter is in­sist­ing that the po­lice have made a mis­take.

Jenni Laid­man is a free­lancer. For the week ended Aug. 12, com­piled from data from in­de­pen­dent and chain book­stores, book whole­salers and in­de­pen­dent dis­trib­u­tors na­tion­wide.

— Pub­lish­ers Weekly

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