Friday, September 3, 2021

The Quiet Zone - Stephen Kurczy

"What if there was a place where people weren't constantly scrolling? Where forest hikes weren't tainted by a ringtone? Where getting lost meant really getting lost? These questions led me through rugged Appalachian backcountry and into the heart of ... The Quiet Zone."

I had watched a news feature about The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) and was fascinated by the idea that there was a town that was just 'turned off'. By choice? Well, in Green Bank, West Virginia, radio transmissions are restricted by law "to facilitate scientific research and the gathering of military intelligence." 
Kurczy spent a lot of time in Green Bank over the course of a couple of years. Rather than just accepting what could be seen on the surface (which the news feature I had watched did), Kurczy took the time to meet and interact with many residents of the Quiet Zone. Those born there, the electrosensitive - those who are escaping radio frequencies for health reasons - and those just looking for a quiet place to live. But is it really quiet? Kurczy's investigation takes an in depth look at Green Bank. What he finds is fascinating, including unsolved deaths, hippies, a nearby Neo-Nazi compound, many opinions … and noise.

There's lots of food for thought in The Quiet Zone. I couldn't help but stop and ponder what it would be like to just turn off my devices. To live more 'in the moment'. To be more conscious of the time spent on aimless scrolling. Kurczy himself does not have a cell phone. His reasons are compelling and thought provoking. 

I enjoyed Kurczy's writing style. This was his debut book and I would happily pick up his next. 

Here's the ironic bit - I chose to listen the The Quiet Zone - and did so on my iPhone. The reader was Roger Wayne. He has worked as a broadcast journalist in the past and that experience adds much to his reading. His voice is clear, easy to understand, has a nice gravelly undertone and is quite pleasant to listen to. He brings Kuczy's work alive with his pacing, intonation, emphasizing. His reading matched the subject and I felt like I was listening to an investigative show. His presentation easily held my attention. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Quiet Zone.

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