Narrator Jim Frangione’s third turn interpreting the celebrated, bestselling Dennis Lehane series featuring gangster Joe Coughlin finds the now widowed, now former criminal the target of a hit man. Frangione says that being from the Northeast and having worked on plays and movies written and directed by David Mamet educated him on how to best portray Coughlin. “I really like the way Mamet writes. He has a way of capturing vocal patterns.” In Mamet movies like “Homicide,” “State and Main,” and “Heist,” Frangione has Boston’s dropped “r’s” running through many of his portrayals of tough guys from the area.
Frangione says that while the characters in Lehane’s latest novel, WORLD GONE BY, aren’t the same characters as those in Mamet’s work, they seem cut from similar cloth. “I love the Lehane books. Having grown up in Massachusetts, being able to draw on those wonderful dialects and characters is just so much fun to do. Lehane writes for the ear. It’s a joy to go into the studio and tell such a great story.” Frangione says working with Mamet on plays and on sound stages for movies has also helped prepare him for portraying all the characters in an audiobook. He adds, “The audience for audiobooks doesn’t like to hear the narrator acting. You don’t want to intrude into the story; you want to tell the story without drawing attention to yourself. You want to delineate the characters enough that the listener understands who’s speaking.”
Over the years in the novels, Joe Coughlin has aged, and Frangione says bringing the gravitas that age and experience give a person seeped into his voice during production. “What I love about WORLD GONE BY is that this Joe Coughlin is a little softer. He’s kind of at the end of his criminal enterprise, and there’s a sense of world-weariness. Even in the way he deals with people he’s learned some great lessons. Some would say his morality has changed. He’s a more sympathetic character in many ways. He’s a more stoic character.”
And while Frangione is familiar with the text, he knows his delivery has to be fresh from moment to moment. He says he doesn’t heighten his performance as he sees the novel’s twists and turns approaching. “I work against that. Even though we know the end of the story before we start, we don’t want to tip it off before it happens. The violence of Joe’s early life has given him a different perspective. As you see him get older, all of those things creep into Joe Coughlin. How will his son see him? What will his legacy be? And at the end of the book, Lehane answers all those questions.”--Randy O’Brien
© AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
Photo courtesy of the narrator
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