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What Are We Doing Here?

What Are We Doing Here? Marilynne Robinson’s cultural criticism

In our latest Behind the Mic, narrator Carrington MacDuffie shares her experience narrating WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? Essays by Marilynne Robinson.

“The depth and passions with which Marilynne Robinson explores her subjects—primarily theology— inspired me throughout.”—Narrator Carrington MacDuffie

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6 New Historical Fiction Audiobooks

Ride a Magic Carpet with 6 Historical Fiction Audiobooks

6 New Historical Fiction Audiobooks

Something I love about audiobooks set outside our current time and place is that the historical details make the listening experience so rich. We get a sense of the history of  the time—1920s Bombay, the Soviet Union in 1958, colonial America—but also details of customs, costume, and conventions. Wrapping these in the storytelling medium of audiobooks is the perfect way to transport the listener. I’m reminded of a vivid passage in THE WATER DIVINER, the brilliant Australian audiobook about a father and his sons who are lost at Gallipoli in 1915. The father transports the boys with stories of the magic carpet of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. Narrator Jack Thompson took me aboard as well, and I’ve always liked the episode as a perfect example of what the best historical fiction audiobooks can do. Read more…

Jane Austen photograph

Let’s Flip Jane on Her Head

See the yellowed pages in my copy of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE?  That’s to prove that I am a true Janeite.

Bona fides established, let me tell you about the literary mashup PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, by Seth Grahame-Smith, in which the basic P&P plot line and tone are intercut with zombies roaming the 19th-century English countryside. Yes, Jane and zombies are ridiculous, but I listened during one of those complicated family summers, and its occasionally gruesome silliness was a magic diversion.  Author Steve Hockensmith has written two subsequent mashups of the mashup, which are also crazy funny: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DAWN OF THE DREADFULS and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: DREADFULLY EVER AFTER. Most importantly for us, all three were narrated by the amazing Katy Kellgren, who won an Earphones Award for the second volume.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Longbourn
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Cowboy Up

Go West for Romance

Cowboy UpFor those of us who live in the cold, rainy northeast, the setting of a Western romance audiobook holds huge appeal. Large ranches and farms are outside our everyday reality, and I always take an extra moment while listening to a western to soak in the descriptions of plants and trees we don’t have here. I’ll never forget driving through the fairly flat, mostly treeless highways of Kansas. In focusing on what was missing (our verdant, rolling hills covered with leafy trees and winding roads that twist around a varied landscape), it took me a while to realize what I’d gained — sky. Giant, overwhelming sky stretching from horizon to horizon. I remember talking to someone who said he felt claustrophobic without that unobstructed view, while I felt frighteningly small underneath it — it’s all what you’re used to! So this week we share some awe-inspiring western romances. A place to call home, independent characters who rely on friends and family to get by, a sense of belonging — narrators have to speak from their heart to capture the true spirit of the western happily ever after.  Read more…

Mastergate

Under Questioning: Listening to Formal Hearings

MastergateCongressional hearings are a process of information gathering—both orally and aurally. Hearings might be called for  democracy-threatening political disagreements, huge calamities with manmade elements, or the approval of candidates for important non-elected offices. This formal, often public, investigatory medium, with its spoken and heard nuances as important as the words transmitted, is very friendly to audiobook publishing and listening. Hearings have been recorded in sound media, as well as in transcript form, for over a century now. These recordings, as they relate to events included in audiobooks, may be in the form of archival clips, re-enactments, or elements of wholly fictional drama.

Among the past century of such Congressional hearings, events ranging from disaster at sea to dubious secret intelligence programs have given rise to such hearings. And the hearings have given rise to audiobooks for a variety of ages and in a variety of narrative styles. You can choose your concern or choose your genre to get a taste of listening to how hearings are realized by professional narrators and actors. Read more…