Listen Up

By Whitten, Robin | The Christian Science Monitor, February 27, 1997 | Go to article overview

Listen Up


Whitten, Robin, The Christian Science Monitor


Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt

Read by the author

Simon & Schuster Audio, $24 Four cassettes, 6 hrs., Abridged Frank McCourt has a way with words. His memoir of his Irish childhood, "Angela's Ashes," has garnered numerous literary awards and is enjoying strong attention from the bestseller lists. It's pure heaven when McCourt reads his work as he does for the Simon & Schuster program. McCourt sings, we weep. He speaks, we are transported. Through numerous interviews and appearances some readers may have already heard his lovely Irish brogue or heard a brief reading. The six-hour audiobook is riveting. The production shows exactly how recording can enliven and enhance a text. McCourt's narration makes listeners keenly aware of the hope, persistence, and indomitable spirit that got Frank McCourt through the devastating poverty of his family. With his voice, he paints the scenes of his childhood in stark realities of blacks, whites, and browns. McCourt conveys these images with lyrical clarity. He sings the songs his mother sang; he shouts his father's patriots' tunes. These sublime additions elevate an already wonderful text. Although certainly not a story for young children, young adults may find McCourt's story dynamic listening. Personal History Katharine Graham Read by the author Random House AudioBooks, $18 Two cassettes, 3 hrs., Abridged Audio recording is among several forms of media Katharine Graham is using to promote her memoir, "Personal History." Her own reading of this program reinforces the portrait she draws. Graham reveals her quiet strength and commitment through her voice. The narration is reserved, controlled, but not to the extent that listeners don't catch her underlying determination or humility. The former publisher of The Washington Post allows her words to describe the events and her feelings, not her voice. She subtly conveys the tension she felt over the decisions she made relating to the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, and the pressmen's strike. And with steady reserve she expresses the stress caused by difficult family situations. The memoir is reflective, yet she generously shares the many lessons she's learned and the resulting changes in her attitudes. An unabridged edition not read by Graham, will follow. The Writer in The Garden Edited by Jane Garmey Selections by Gertrude Jekyll, Colette, E.B. White et al. HighBridge Audio, $16.95 Two cassettes, 3 hrs., Anthology In this season of seed catalogues and garden dreams, "The Writer in the Garden" is a pleasure. More than the 40 plus poems, excerpts, and short essays, the program defines the spirit of gardening. There's not just one view, we have selections from several respected garden writers - Gertrude Jekyll, Ken Druse, Vita Sackville-West and Russell Paige - and authors known for their descriptions of, if not their interest in, gardens: Henry James, Homer, Colette and Edith Wharton. …

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