The summer before my mother died, I repainted our front porch. Neither she nor I wanted me in constant attendance. So, in between visits to her bedside, I scraped, painted, and laughed hysterically to Mark Haddon’s A SPOT OF BOTHER, given an Earphones Award-winning performance by Simon Vance. This startled passersby, but given the chance to blend my weeping with tears of laughter, I didn’t care about the spectacle I was making. The audiobook is nominally about an estranged English family arranging for a wedding. For Haddon, whose THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME found humor and profundity in a character’s coping with Asperger’s Syndrome, a family wedding (like a family death) gives rise to just about every behavior, some of it bizarre, much of it transcendent. And in my hour of need, it was transformative.
Summer travel season is here, and I’d love to hare off to an unfamiliar clime. In previous years, I’ve watched zebras on the Masai Mara and scraped my knees on a shortish Swiss Alp. But I don’t always have the ready cash for such trips, and in truth, I’m not always up for the dissonance and discomfort of travel. That’s where audiobooks come in. Not travel books, but novels set in foreign lands. I call them far-flung travel for the adventure-hesitant. They encourage me to appreciate other lands and other peoples, all while sleeping in my own bed.
My two trips to the Caribbean left me sunburnt, broke, and tired of the other tourists. Then I fell in love with Barbados in THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL, a coming-of-age story by Naomi Jackson, evocatively performed by Robin Miles. This wasn’t the manicured resort island, but a real place rich with people I’d never have met lounging by a pool, including two Brooklyn-born Barbadian girls who took me along on their voyage of self-discovery. Read more…
Over the years as a Contributing Editor for AudioFile Magazine, I have heard and reviewed about a gazillion audiobooks and interviewed fewer, but still many, authors and narrators. I’ve enjoyed it all, including the constant agony of writing a brief, thorough, informative, and fair review about each listening experience, and such challenges as questioning author/narrator Scott Simon as he collected his kids from school and interviewing two narrator couples simultaneously on Skype video (Kate Reading/Michael Kramer and Marguerite Gavin/Lloyd James – it worked fabulously).
So, now I’m ready to blog. The topic will, of course, be audiobooks and listening recommendations. Other than that, I’ve set myself no subject limitations except that I will have heard the book, the author, or the narrator before. And that I have something to say. Which I will. Actually, my husband hopes that by blogging about audiobooks I might actually spend less time talking about them.
When I’m not writing for AudioFile, I write essays, articles, and books (one published, two in progress); knit inexpertly; and volunteer as a gardener and a trail-builder. You can find my writing at my website. And you can find me at this spot twice a month, beginning next week. Upcoming topics include armchair travel, time-travel (I must really want to get away), and listening to a funny audiobook to get you through the tough times.