Review – Homeland: Phantom Pain by Glenn Gers

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“You are truly the worst terrorist I have ever met. With nonsense like that and your friends in the CIA. I thought you would be another spider, hiding under the rug, sneaking out to bite. I have met them, these soldiers of god. That’s not you. You’re not even a good patsy. You think too much for yourself. And you care so much about individuals! It’s all personal for you isn’t it? You’re a fucking civilian!”

Although perhaps just a small blip on the grand radar screen of the literary world, Homeland: Phantom Pain is an Audible.com release worth mentioning. Showtime and Audible came together to create this free 3o-minute audiobook, narrated by Sergeant Nicholas Brody himself, Damian Lewis. A noir glimpse into Brody’s journey between Seasons 1 and 2, Phantom Pain is a chance to see what we miss when we can only spend an hour a week with these characters.

Lewis is a fantastic narrator, which isn’t always a given when actors turn to story narration. We can’t forget Molly Ringwald’s bracing performance of The Middlesteins, in which it seemed she was gasping her way through each line almost desperate for the book to end. Lewis’s narration is understated but comes across as softer than he portrays his character on the show, and there is something irresistibly charming about him writing a letter to Carrie:  “I tried to imagine what you were doing at that very moment. All mussed up in your bed or all put together in your suit, with your ID tag clipped to the pocket.”  Lewis manages to convey emotion without distracting from the words he’s reading, which can be quite a challenge.  Narrators must walk a fine line between blasé and hokey, Lewis does it well.

The story here is poignant for both the main characters on the show, and emphasizes a bit of the love story that has been lost in this second season without getting sappy. I was skeptical of listening to this at all, even thought I downloaded it quite a while ago, as I thought a TV tie-in work of fiction would be pretty low quality. I think anyone who likes to read and watches the show will be pleasantly surprised, however. This isn’t an adventure style promo-piece, it is a great addition to the show that gives us a realistic glimpse into Brody’s struggle to come to terms with being the most wanted man in the world, traveling in foreign lands, with memorable and untrustworthy characters.

This would make sense with Homeland, as with many of the TV shows as of late. As Difficult Men, a book I recently reviewed noted, TV has gone through a sort of cultural renaissance. Where it was once considered fairly low brow (and certainly, much of it still is), TV shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire, and certainly Homeland can claim to be works of art on par with many movies or books. It would then make sense that this type of television translates more successfully into literature.

The buzz is that more of these stories are on the way… We can only hope! If you don’t have an Audible.com account and you like to read, I can’t suggest it enough. The company lets you return any audiobooks you don’t like, no questions ask. They also giveaway a lot of stuff (like this story). I double (at least) the amount of books I read by listening to audiobooks in the car, while I’m doing chores around the house, and while I’m taking walks or doing other exercise. I have a Bluetooth headset so I don’t have to worry about being connected to my phone. People often ask me how I read so much–and I do, certainly, I read a bunch. But I also listen!

Homeland:  Phantom Pain on Audible.com

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One Comment

I keep hearing about the show “Homeland.” Your well written review of this audiobook only makes me want to watch it more. Great stuff Kali!

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