Iambik.com Gets Hard Boiled

Iambik.com is back with a new collection of audio books.  Crimes, murders, heists…  10 new recordings in all.

I’ll be downloading The Tattoo Murder Case by Japanese author Akimitsu Takagi.  Set in Tokyo in the aftermath of WWII, a girl is found brutally murdered – her full-body tattoo taken,  only her head and limbs are left at the scene.  A detective and his brother, a naive young doctor,  investigate.   It all sounds very Silence of the Lambs meets Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson (though that’s my initial reaction based on the blurbs and nothing more).

I’m also leaning towards Death of a Nationalist by Rebecca Pawel… another murder mystery.  This time set in pre-war Franco’s Spain.  Ever since seeing the film  Pan’s Labyrinth this period has been on my radar.

Both books are, entirely coincidentally as relates to my choosing them, published by Soho Press.

As I’ve said before – I like Iambik because its audio library is built around books from small, independent presses.  Books that were overlooked by the audio book industry.   Iambik takes their service one step further – offering these audio books at remarkably good prices ($6.99 each or $44.99 for the whole lot).   If you enjoy the indie presses and listening to audio books, it’s still a difficult deal to beat.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

All My Friends Are Superheroes @ Iambik.com

Everybody loves the Canadians, right?  Mounties, UN Peacekeepers, Mike Meyers and Kids In the Hall  – all of which goes a long way towards making up for Celine Dion.  Add Alan Kaufman’s name to the “plus” column.  After reading and reviewing The Waterproof Bible I received an offer from Iambik.com to listen to the audio version of his first novel, All My Friends Are Superheroes.  I jumped at the chance.   And enjoyed every moment of the entire 2 hours, 7 minutes and 11 seconds I spent riveted to my iPod.

All Tom’s friends really are superheroes (OK, I know that line is straight from the book jacket – but I can’t top it) including his new wife, The Perfectionist.  Tom, himself, is normal.  But when everyone around you has a super power not having one makes you special by default.

Our hero’s trouble begins on his wedding day.  His new wife’s x-boyfriend hypnotized her into believing that Tom is invisible.  And now, months later, Tom has the space of a plane flight to convince The Perfectionist that he is still there.  That he, in fact, never left her.  But he needs to be quick.  Because once The Perfectionist lands in Vancouver and makes it her new home, she’ll make it perfect… without him.

Andrew Kaufman’s superheroes are snarky and hip and bear a striking resemblance to people you’d meet on the dating circuit of any major city.  The Stress Bunny – who absorbs the stress  of everyone around her like a sponge (and subsequently throws the best parties).  Hypno – who hypnotizes women into believing they’ll have the best sex of their life with him, and then tries to convince them that just because he hypnotized them into believing it was the best sex they ever had, doesn’t mean it’s not true.  There’s some guy whose superpower is to make every morning Sunday morning – which amounts to a lot of time spent in bed and the deterioration of personal hygiene rituals.  The Ear, The Amphibian, T.V. Girl, The Sitcom Kid and dozens more make cameo appearances  – at a party Tom yells out the name “The” as a joke and everyone turns to look.

The descriptions of these unorthodox superheroes are the most entertaining segments, and make up about 1/3, of the novel.  They add a kind of twisted humor to what could have otherwise easily become a sappy love story.  Kaufman’s novel reminds me of a game I played with friends in college:  What would your superpower be?  And we’re not talking about x-ray vision or being able to fly.  My one friend had fingers of ice.  A girl I knew apparently had a sharp pointy bump in the back of her head that could inflict pain if she leaned her head in just so.  One guy could beat the crane machine at the arcade (you know, the one where you try to pick up stuffed animals with a 3-pronged claw).   Fortunately for the reader, Andrew Kaufman is a lot better at this game than we were.

As for format:  I enjoyed reading The Waterproof Bible and  I’m sure I would have enjoyed reading All My Friends Are Superheroes.  But I’m ultimately glad that I listened to the audiobook version.  Gordan Mackenzie’s narration is fabulous! No exaggeration.  He reads as if this novel was written just for him – with all the quirkiness of characterization and dry humor that it deserves.  So if you’re a comic book geek or a fan of Wes Anderson films, or just in need of a light, entertaining read to relax with over the holidays; I highly recommend you check this one out.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

The Holidays Come Early! IAMBIK.COM (Not Your Father’s Audiobook)

Most internet savvy people are probably familiar already with LibriVox. It’s a nifty concept – an audiobook site that takes books in the public domain, talented and/or enthusiastic volunteers willing to record them, combines the two and offers the results for free to anyone with the ability to download. But there are challenges. Sometimes narrators are more enthusiastic than they are talented. And while books in the public domain are plentiful – we all still want access to more current selections.  That left a huge hole in the market that, let’s face it, Audibles.com and iTunes just aren’t filling.  No one wants to be limited to just the bestseller lists and the major publishing houses.

And so, Iambik.com was born.

Here’s how it works.  Iambik teams up with smaller publishers, and authors, and narrators on a revenue sharing model.  Which means their selection i’s more indie bookstore than Barnes & Nobles.  Coach House Books, McSweeney’s, Graywolf Press, Tin House Books are just a few of the publishers currently on board.  And the prices are fantastic – most books priced at $4.99.

I’ve already listened to All My Friends Are Superheroes (see my review later this week) and am now working on McSweeney’s Icelander by Dustin Long (narrated by Miette Elms of Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast).  I loved All My Friends Are Superheroes, a smart, funny and painfully honest love story for the hipster generation (that wouldn’t let me turn off my iPod).  And I’m finding that Icelander is a tad more challenging than your average audiobook, being one of those cerebral post-modern metafictions that McSweeney’s specializes in… but that’s what makes Iambic so exciting!   They embrace books that other companies might shy away from.  You’ll find stories here that aren’t available (in audio format) anywhere else.

Currently Iambik has a library of 14 audiobooks ready for download.  Never fear, that’s only the beginning.  I asked Miette, who originally contacted me, what we had to look forward to.  Here’s what she had to say –

We plan to start growing our collection very quickly!  We wanted to launch with a small, well-curated, well-produced collection and ramp up from there.  We’ll be releasing an indie crime collection in January that’ll be a lot of fun, then science fiction, then a second round of literary fiction.  From the January release on, we’re on track to release a collection a month (also, the collections themselves will be larger than the 11 books of our first launch).  We’re also open to suggestions from listeners, authors, and publishers, so are really trying to keep our ear to the ground and respond to real needs.

And did I mention that their prices are fantastic?!  Well they just got even better.  Until the end of November enter the code: booksexy-promo-nov2010 and receive $10.00 worth of free downloads.  (That gets you two books, depending on what you select).  This offer is limited to the first 25 users, so I encourage you to take advantage of it quickly.   Just a little something to listen to as you’re making your way over the river and through the woods.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note:  The instructions on how to download provided on the Iambik  site are idiot proof (I got it the first try!)  If you use iTunes I recommend downloading your audiobook in the m4b format.  It divides the reading into chapters and just makes listening, re-winding and searching that much more convenient!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine