Podcast Review #37: Clear Heart

Title: Clear Heart
Author: Joe Cottonwood
Genre: General Fiction
Released: 3 October 2007 –  7 January 2008
Located: iTunesPodiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast only
Rating: R for Language, sexual situations, some violence

As I’ve mentioned before, I quite often am looking for new podcasts. It isn’t that I have nothing to listen to, I do. However, most of the things I listen to are currently in production, and I need to broaden my listening horizons. I also have listened to many podcasts that I’ve never reviewed. However, if I’m going to review a “legacy” podcast, I often like to listen to something that is out of my regular routine. A week or so ago, I asked Twitter for suggestions and I’ve got a whole slate full of podcasts now. One of the suggestions I got was from Laura “GreenGlam” Church, and that suggestion was Clear Heart by Joe Cottonwood.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Carpenters and craft, friendship and rivalry: Wally is building a mansion for a dot-com multimillionaire in the Silicon Valley of California. As the dot-com’s stock keeps rising, the size of the house – and the owner’s ego – keep growing. Wally and his colorful crew may be into something that’s over their heads. When little guys work for bigshots, who gets nailed?

From bungling to burglary, from demolishing concrete to racing beltsanders, from love of tools to falling in love, everyone will encounter Wally’s Laws of Construction – or are they Laws of Life? Each house, it seems, is a miracle.

Production: The production of Clear Heart is clean and simple, like a well built house. I love clean and simple, and I can honestly say the production of Clear Heart is easy to enjoy. Song at the beginning. Same song at the end. Clean audio. No TSSF (it is hosted on Podiobooks and through Podiobooks on iTunes).

Cast: The cast is simply Joe Cottonwood doing all of the male voices and Susan Walker doing all of the female voices. The voicework duo is not like The Gearheart duo. Mr. Cottonwood does an admirable job of voicing a wide variety of characters, but for the most part, you can always recognize the voices as belonging to the same man. Ms. Walker’s female voices aren’t even intoned differently. However, it doesn’t matter at all. The story is easily told and flows naturally.

Story: This is a rare listen for me. I tend to be a reader and listener of speculative fiction. I am drawn to it for some reason. I do, occasionally stray from this pattern and read some nonfiction or general fiction, but not often. I guess I have enough “real life” to not need to read about other peoples. Clear Heart, however, is done well in the fact that the characters really come to life. Good or bad (and there are both).

Verdict: Let’s talk about those characters. I can’t say I liked any of them to be truthful. They all have major character defects. Just like I do.


To be honest, these characters are very life like. Often, to their detriment. The upside is that they are interesting. That is what kept me listening all the way to the end.

In the end this is a story of people living. Changing. Growing. Life. It has plenty of profanity, and way too much rated r sexual content (I now know about things I didn’t know before, and would have NEVER been unhappy to know about — yes, I’ve lived a sheltered life, LOL).

This is a hard story for me to provide a verdict for. I didn’t like it in many ways. In other ways it was very interesting and drew me in. So, I’ll do the best I can. If you like fiction, non-speculative fiction, with well developed characters and an ability to describe construction in a way to make the art come through, while at the same time you aren’t put off by the aforementioned sexual content, you will probably like Clear Heart.

Disclosure: To my knowledge, Mr. Cottonwood isn’t on Twitter. If he is, I’ve never seen his name, or at least am unaware if I did. I was neither offered nor did I receive anything for writing this review.

Comment Pages

There are 4 Comments to "Podcast Review #37: Clear Heart"

  • I am glad that Podiobooks.com has a story like this in it’s stable. As much as I really like sci-fi/spec-fic, I know that a lot of people don’t.

    I did a quick check and Joe Cottonwood has 4 books on Podiobooks.com, 3 of them honored wth Podiobooks.com Founder’s Choice awards – http://www.podiobooks.com/podiobooks/search.php?keyword=Joe+Cottonwood

    If this kind of story appeals to you, it seems worth checking out. And if you like it there is more where this came from.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Richard! I definitely found a lot to like about this story, but still found plenty to shake my head at. It is one of those situations where you can’t help be drawn into the characters, yet at the same time think, “I could NEVER be friends with these people.”

      Thanks again!

  • Thank you, I needed to add to my list and this will be a good one. I like stories about people. I love reading diaries. That is one reason I love Nathan’s stories. Oh, and I tried, I really did try, to listen to Assam and Darjeeling, but could not get through the first book. Just too tedious… Now on to some juicy stuff… We never are too old to learn! LOL

    • odin1eye says:

      woohoo! Another podcast found a listener… does that mean an angel got its wings? Must ponder this…

      Thanks for the comment!

      Thanks for the update on Assam and Darjeeling! Just goes to show once again that NOTHING suits everyone!

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