Saturday, April 26, 2014

SENSATION by Thalma Lobel

The subtitle here is THE NEW SCIENCE OF PHYSICAL INTELLIGENCE. Author Thalma Lobel holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Tel Aviv University, did post doc training at Harvard, and has done gender related studies of child development and adult behaviors. Her book SENSATION is similar to what Dan Ariely loves to write about: why we act as we do. A reason why formerly titled "blacks" insisted on the phrase "African-American" is explained. Because how much of what we perceive related to color is subconsciously decided. Black, she says, is associated with evil and aggression. White, with purity and goodness. This has nothing to do with human beings, but rather is the result of subconscious reactions to color in the environment, and word associations. Red, for example, is associated with dominance, so wearing a red tie subtly displays power and authority more than a blue tie. (A red car will also get you a speeding ticket more often.) Why was the title Fifty Shades of Grey a hit? Could that have to do with "thrilling" surrender to "the dark side" little by little? Why does a resume submitted on heavy paper impress employers more than a thin paper? Why do scents affect how you feel, and your buying decisions? Why do kids feel "left out" in classrooms ten degrees cooler than warm ones? Simply seeing fast food logos causes people to become impatient in other matters. Why? Advertisers do studies like these to determine how to fool you into buying more of their products. It comes down to typeface, color, spacing, and scents. Read by Joyce Bean, this audiobook amplifies the findings done in Brandwashed with more in-depth research to discover what makes us tick, and how not to be fooled by the shady manipulations of our sensations and cultural influences. 

WORST. PERSON. EVER. Yes, that's the title, with periods. It's British/American culture clash fiction by Douglas Coupland, with an offbeat and wild bent, and not without the rat-a-tat of four letter words (being, after all, about an unredeemable human slug…but an adorable one.) The protagonist is named Raymond Gunt, and he sees nothing wrong with himself at all (kinda like many banking CEOs involved in the bailout and bonus circus, or gangster rappers whose revenge against them includes becoming just like them.) Gunt gets involved in a survivor type reality show on a small island named Kiribati in the Pacific (which is reminiscent of my own novel, about a survivor reality show staged in the Caribbean), but there the similarity ends. This book is more like Carl Hiaasen on steroids. It's also a little like the excellent first person novel Pocket Kings by Ted Heller. Kiribati actually exists, (as Palm Island in my story really exists), and was site for a Marine assault in Nov. 1943. Gunt has a problem with the U.S. Military machine. The comedy comes from the contrast between how people see him and how he sees himself. It's not always a pleasant read, but it is experimental and not micro-targeted genre fiction, and for that I salute the effort.
I recently asked a couple of narrators to tell me about one fav recent title they've done, and why they like it.
Narrator Susan Denaker: "I recently had the great privilege to record two books on spiritual healing written by a former physicist from NASA, Barbara Ann Brennan. The first was HANDS OF LIGHT and the second, LIGHT EMERGING, both written with a perfect balance of scientific analytical sensibilities…including a beautifully concise history of theoretical physics…and yet a clear sense of Spirit guiding the authors voice to explain why love is the glue that holds it all together. Informative, uplifting and life changing. Getting paid to record it was an honor."

Narrator Johnny Heller, who is up for an Audie award for Best Solo Narration this year in IN A GLASS GRIMMLY: "I recorded YOU MIGHT BE A ZOMBIE AND OTHER BAD NEWS for Tantor Audio. It's from CRACKED. It's pretty funny. First, it has pretty much nothing to do with zombies. I'm reasonably certain that they titled it that because Zombie stuff is pretty hot right now and it will sell the book better! They pretty much admit as much. While there is a short bit on zombies in the book, they might just as easily have called it: Lesbian Vampire Werewolf Zombie Babes. It's mostly a long collection of lists. Very much like the Cracked website. It revels in taking cherished memories and tales and trashing them with gusto. I found myself frequently running out of the booth to share the most disgusting bits with Jo Anna Perrin who began to view my gleeful visits with great dismay. things like "the 5 most terrifying bugs in the world" or "the 4 most badass Presidents" or "6 Terrifying things they don't tell you about childbirth."

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