Splendid Audiobooks, and Why

Motherless BrooklynToyer by Gardner McKay

Perfect match of narrator and book:

The Aubry/Maturin series, narrated by Patrick Tull (written by Patrick O’Brien)
A sea captain and a doctor are friends. It’s easy to see why these stories are massively popular, plus, you painlessly learn some history and stuff.

The Screwtape Letters, narrated by John Cleese (written by C. S. Lewis.)
Did you know, this was one of David Foster Wallace‘s favorite books? I wonder if he ever heard the John Cleese rendering? Somebody gave me this on a cassette tape, years ago. It was one of the best presents ever. It’s brilliant, amusing, psychologically right on target, and you don’t have to be a Christian to dig it. The ecology of Hell – “Bring food or be food.”

Peter Matthiessen’s novels, narrated by George Guidall
Rough times in Florida’s pioneer wilderness days. A trilogy that turned out to be four books. Killing Mr. Watson, and all the ones related to it. The same events through different eyes. What a feast. It might not matter in what order they are read. Each one stands alone. But there are certain things the listener would enjoy being held in suspense about. And actually, there are a bunch of narrators involved in at least one of the novels. They’re all great.

Motherless Brooklyn narrated by Frank Muller (written by Jonathan Lethem)
It has dark, it has funny, it has sex. It has characters you won’t find anywhere else and a story characterized by the participants as “wheels within wheels.” It could make you nostalgic for old funky New York even if you were never there. The narrator is half the beauty of this one, and how could it be otherwise, given such great dialog to work with?

Lionel Essrog has Tourette’s syndrome, and hangs out with three other former orphans under the tutelage of the same mentor, Frank Minna. Their name for Lionel is “Freakshow,” but they put up with him. They also know some really bad people and when Minna gets killed, the young men want revenge. This interferes with Lionel’s other quest, to find his bio family. Some literary experts say a novel should never be written in the first person. That’s ridiculous.

Dave Robicheaux series narrated by Mark Hammer and others – written by James Lee Burke
Robicheaux is a recovering alcoholic and on-again, off-again lawman in Louisiana who gets into all kind of situations. Very dark and haunting. The books narrated by Mark Hammer are particularly outstanding. In fact, when I finally read a paperback copy of one of the series, I realized that at least 50% of my enjoyment of those particular books had come from the audiobook narrator.

Read by author, and nobody else could have done it so well:

Consider the Lobster – David Foster Wallace
Who else could have handed in to Gourmet magazine a piece about the agony of the boiled lobster, and gotten away with it? Also he goes to the AVN Awards, the so-called Oscars of porn, and hangs out with Max Hardcore. Another piece is about being in Middle America on 9/11. Then, Wallace looks at achievement, fame, the genius of athletes, knowing when you are done; in general a boatload of deep issues, all inspired by a not very well written book about tennis star Tracy Austin.

This could be a road book. You pick up a hitchhiker who wears a bandana to keep his head from exploding, and he entertains you the whole time with wonderfully smart and funny stories, and you’re sorry to see him go.

Toyer – Gardner McKay
Homeboy was a drop-dead handsome TV star AND a terrific novelist. Gardner McKay wrote and narrated this psycho thriller.

Tortilla Flats – T. Coraghessan Boyle.
Heartbreaking and deeply compassionate, it could change minds and/or hearts about immigration and related issues.

Craig Ferguson, American on Purpose
I love this guy.

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Please enjoy “Audio Book  Narrators, Oh, Puh-leeeeeze

and “The Podcast – Audiobook Connection

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About Pat Hartman

Before publishing the two books "Call Someplace Paradise" and "Ghost Town: A Venice California Life", my main project was "Salon: A Journal of Aesthetics. " I wrote extensively for "Scene," a monthly arts and entertainment magazine with a circulation of 25,000. Also proofread, sold ads, put together the music calendar and, for a couple of years, served as editor. Presided over a couple issues of the local NORML newsletter, as well as being featured speaker at chapter meetings. Wrote a complete screenplay; collaborated on another one; worked on a couple of scripts (additional dialog and general brainstorming) with an indie film producer. Booked the talent for a large music festival. Wrote, designed, illustrated and produced various catalogs and brochures for small businesses. Spoke at a high school as a panelist on Women in the Professions; was a featured speaker at the 1991 Women in Libertarianism Conference; presented public programs on "Success in One Lesson" and "The Bloomsbury Group: What's It To Us?" Created the website VirtualVenice.info and wrote many politically-oriented pieces for Earthblog.net
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