A Laughing Matter of Pain

Cynthia Hilston
Narrator: Brian Callanan
HISTORICAL: As this audiobook begins in the 1920’s in Cleveland, Ohio, it’s pretty clear there will be a reckoning in Harry Rechthart’s future. He is filled with jealousy of his older brother, with hurt at being ignored and misjudged by his family, and with laughter to cover his pain. He falls in with a crowd that definitely doesn’t want him to be his best self. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion: it’s going to happen… It’s just not clear how bad it’s going to be. It turns out pretty terrible for Harry. However, the story has redeeming qualities, and Harry gets the chance for redemption after his reckoning. He does so admirably, for a time. Then his life is thrown into chaos again, and he traipses down the poor-choice path once again, and ignores his original family for many years. His relationship with his new family suffers, until he pulls himself up and starts making better choices again.
Harry isn’t always a very likable protagonist. He gets lost in the bottle often, and runs from pain instead of facing it. He loves his family, but makes really poor decisions regarding their future. His first girlfriend, Kat, is toxic, but Harry is unable to see it. Unfortunately, he is a protagonist that has to make a lot of stupid mistakes before he starts appreciating his life. Harry is a tortured soul who eventually finds his way to a decent life. The tension varies as Harry navigates life, as does the pacing. However, his conflicts are crystal clear!
Brian Callanan does a fine job narrating this story. His characters each have a distinctive voice and his consistency is notable. There aren’t any obvious production errors or extraneous noises in the recording. This story is well-adapted as an audiobook.
Carey Sullivan