Book Review

Sounds Like Titanic


Here’s a first for me.  I did a total turnaround regarding Sounds Like Titanic.  Listening to it on Audible, at first I thought I’d die.  Between the unusual writing style and the melodrama in the narrator’s tone, I considered returning it.  Fortunately, I did not.  Once into it, I found  Sounds Like Titanic to be the most unusual, witty, on-the-mark meaningful, and downright enjoyable piece of both poignancy and social satire I’ve experienced in years.

It is non-fiction, a memoir written by a violinist from Appalachia, who got into Columbia University on the merit of her music, only to find that she is the very worst one there.  Still, she needs to make money to pay her tuition.  So she starts working for “the composer,” a never-named guy who is nice enough and talented enough and smart enough to know what people want.  They want music.  He puts together a series of CDs of the music they want, basically take-offs of legit music (hence, the title, Sounds Like Titanic), and plays these CDs so loud at their venues (malls, school auditoriums, outdoor markets, and craft shows) that no one knows the musicians aren’t the ones actually making the sound.

The beauty of this book is the Audible narrator.  Once you accept that the melodrama is very much tongue-in-cheek, she is hysterical.  It took me 30 minutes of listening before I was into the story enough to appreciate that.  But then … well, I’ve been laughing out loud as I listen.

Aside from style, the story tells of the author’s Appalachia childhood, her struggles in the big city (New York), her travels with “the composer,” and her observations through it all, some of which are so spot-on I found myself saying, “Yessss!” aloud in my car (between chuckles).  This book is written in the second person, another unusual thing to get used to, but it works.

I have no idea how Sounds Like Titanic reads in print, but it you’re an audio person, go for it!


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