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Audio: A legend looks back
How does it happen? How did a skinny Jewish kid from Cleveland know before he was 10 that he wanted to be an actor, that the stage was his platform, the theater his true home? Was it nature, nurture or a magical combo? No matter how many celebrity memoirs I’ve listened to, this question rarely gets answered—maybe that’s part of the elusive fascination of stage and screen stars. In Master of Ceremonies, Joel Grey, the face and voice of Cabaret and many other iconic productions, is so charmingly, disarmingly candid that you begin to understand how he became the man he is. Woven into the story of his long career is a more personal, more difficult story for Grey to handle. But he does, and we follow as he finally deals with his sexuality, camouflaged for decades, a source of confusion and shame; now, out of the closet at the age of 83, it’s a source of pride. Grey is his own fabulous narrator.
TRUST NO ONE
On the night of his initiation into his father’s neopagan Asatru group (a modern incarnation of a pre-Christian Nordic religion), Sune Frandsen, 15 years old and eager to be part of this secret band of brothers, disappears into the forest. The rites have gone horribly wrong and, terrified, he runs for his life. That disturbing scene opens Sara Blaedel’s The Killing Forest, a new installment in her fast-paced series starring Detective Louise Rick, a member of Denmark’s elite Special Search Agency. Just back from a recuperative leave after a nasty attack, Louise takes on the case and discovers that Sune is the son of a man she knew years ago when her boyfriend supposedly hanged himself. Dealing with the same set of suspects, her current investigation becomes intertwined with an investigation into the suicide that’s long troubled her. Hold on tight, there’s action galore, real suspense and strong character development in this chilling tale.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO
A scientific polymath of unusual stature, with insatiable curiosity and exuberant, dauntless wander-lust, Alexander von Humboldt, born into a wealthy Prussian family in 1789, was almost as well known as Napoleon during his lifetime. Today, even though towns, streets, a part of the moon, a great current in the Pacific Ocean, plants, animals and waterfalls are named after him, he’s all but forgotten. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, Andrea Wulf’s wonderfully researched, vividly detailed portrait of the man, his ideas, his influence on the influential from Goethe, Thomas Jefferson and Simón Bolívar to Darwin, Thoreau and Muir, brings this “visionary thinker” back into focus. He thought at warp speed, lectured and wrote prodigiously and made science accessible and popular. A brilliant observer, he was able to see global interconnections, the first to perceive “the web of life, the concept of nature as we know it today,” and to understand, long ago, the catastrophic effects of human tampering with the ecosystem. In this extraordinary narrative of an extraordinary man, you’ll see his world as he saw it.