Audiobook Review: The Walk by Lee Goldberg

22 06 2012

The Walk by Lee Goldberg

Read by Luke Daniels

Brilliance Audio

Length: 6 Hrs 57 Min

Genre: Apocalyptic Thriller

Quick Thoughts: The Walk will probably never be hailed as one of the classics of Apocalyptic Fiction but its interesting spin on the oft used decimated city trope makes it a worthy edition to any fan of the genre. Goldberg manages to lead his character on a journey that will change him forever, and also give readers a look at LA that defies the typical overly glamorized or absurdly gritty depictions seen far too often on television.

Grade: B

One of the great things about the internet is that when people are passionate about a topic, they have no qualms letting people know all about it. I have read and taken part in plenty of on line “discussions” about Apocalyptic and Post Apocalyptic literature and for every fan of the subgenre there is a different definition of exactly what it entails. You would think it is pretty simple, Apocalyptic literature is about something really bad happening and how it affects people. Yet people differ on exactly what the bad thing should be, how many people the bad thing affects, and exactly when the bad thing happened. I have heard some people say that apocalyptic fiction isn’t really apocalyptic fiction unless at least two thirds of the population dies. Other people insist that it has to be a world wide event. Yet, I am pretty open with my definition. I find it short sighted to say isolated events don’t really count. I believe that telling people who lived through the Japanese Tsunami or the New Orleans flooding that what happened to them wasn’t apocalyptic is just wrong. It’s like some alien race out in Tau Ceti telling us the earth exploding isn’t really Apocalyptic, because there is still 8 other planets left in our solar system. (Yes, the Tau Ceti people count Pluto.) For some people Lee Goldberg’s The Walk really wouldn’t count as Apocalyptic fiction. It takes place in California, during a massive earthquake that just may be “The Big One” and perhaps only thousands died, instead of the billions that dies in a book like The Stand. Yet, if you are there when the earth begins to shake and buildings begin to fall all around you, you may just have to rework your definition of what Apocalyptic really is.

When I first heard of The Walk by Lee Goldberg I was interested but a bit wary. As someone who has read a lot of Post Apocalyptic fiction, often times simply reading a synopsis of a book can give you a sort of bad book flashback to a time when you read something that was just way to trite or full of clichéd situations. The Walk follows Marty Slack, a TV producer, on the day “The Big One” hits Los Angeles. His car destroyed and the city in chaos, Marty must do something that I imagine causes fear in the hearts of many Los Angelinos, walk through the city. When I fist read this summary, I saw simple, white bread boring Marty having to deal with roving gangs, looters and thuggish ethnic types, yet eventually realizing there is beauty in the diverse richness of his city or some sort of overplayed, made for TV Apocalyptic scenario. I have to say, I was sort of pleasantly surprised by the journey the author leads us on in The Walk. Instead of evil looters and stereotypical thugs, Goldberg shows his intimate knowledge of the city beyond the overused TV stock footage. He uses some surprising images, like a lone food truck outside of City Hall serving Burritos to shocked, injured lawyers and bureaucrats, to balance an absurdist dark humor with realistic depictions of destruction. Marty Slack is sort of a bland character, who at times can be frustratingly dense, but he makes a journey both physically and emotionally that, while disjointed at times, is full of unexpected rewards.  There are some genuinely funny moments, from Marty singing TV Themes songs as motivation to keep moving, to a crazy redneck Bounty Hunter pitching him a TV show as they make their way past destroyed landmarks. There is a bit of unevenness to the story and some inconsistencies to the characters, yet Goldberg manages to pull it together into a nice package with an ending that, while a bit telegraphed, has some genuinely touching moments and reveals a lot about Marty as a character. The Walk will probably never be hailed as one of the classics of Apocalyptic Fiction but its interesting spin on the oft used decimated city trope makes it a worthy edition to any fan of the genre. Goldberg manages to lead his character on a journey that will change him forever, and also give readers a look at LA that defies the typical overly glamorized or absurdly gritty depictions seen far too often on television.

As narrator, Luke Daniels gives a seasoned performance of The Walk that makes the story, and setting come alive. The Walk offers an interesting challenge for a narrator, because it can often move from a highly emotional impacting moment, to an almost slapsticks comedy sequence, then back to a sort of default mood of shocked coldness. Daniels delivers all these moments well, conveying the right tone at the right moment. Daniels reads Marty Slack with a sort of neutral blandness that actually helps highlight some of the bizarre characters Marty meets along the way. The highlight of the reading is the stuttering, over the top body guard Buck, who is annoying, frustrating, but typically hilarious. Daniels manages to make the most out of some of the other characters who appear throughout Marty’s walk, from an aged character actress, to a stock filmographer, making these brief interactions memorable. The Walk is a quick, enjoyable disaster yarn whose audiobook would make an excellent companion on any of your long walks.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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2 responses

22 06 2012
russell1200

Did you mean ‘wary’ (versus weary). Either would make a certain amount of sense.

Apocalypse is Greek for unveiling, or by its synanym “Revelation{. So it can be used in a very broad sense.

I like to call these local disaster books catastrophe-novels, and if on a larger scale an apocalypse-in-progress,

The book had a few nice points, and some truely interesting moments, but it just dragged on too long. I did not anticipate the twist at the end, of whicH i was somewhat ambivalent. Maybe I would like it more if I read it a second time.

For what its worth, if you follow my link back, I have a tab on book reviews of apocalyptic novels I have read. For some reason, I never did the review of this book.

22 06 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Interesting points about what, exactly, makes something apocalyptic fiction.

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