Grover Gardner’s reading of Mark Twain’s autobiography is something of a marvel, considering how little he relies on the Mark Twain manner made so famous by Hal Holbrook. Easy, natural, unaffected, but cued to every element of Twain’s subtle and exacting prose, Gardner’s delivery makes it easy to imagine you’re listening to the author himself. The text is a daunting one. Written in sketches and fragments over many years, the bulk was dictated to a stenographer several years before Twain’s death in 1910, with the stipulation that the unexpurgated text not appear for 100 years. Some of the short pieces are superb, but the deliberately meandering dictation proves to be aimless and slack, without Twain’s customary verbal magic. This fine audio production has immense scholarly value. Gardner’s skilled reading of a dictated text brings us as close as we might come to the author’s natural voice—and reveals how much more he achieved when he applied himself at his desk. D.A.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine [Published: DECEMBER 2010]
Trade Ed. Blackstone Audio 2010
CD ISBN 9781441778437 $39.95 Twenty CDs
MP3-CD ISBN 9781441778444 $44.95 Two MP3-CDs
DD ISBN multiple sources
Library Ed. Blackstone Audio 2010
CS ISBN 9781441778413 $72.95 Eighteen cassettes
CD ISBN 9781441778420 $140.00 Twenty CDs
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