Sunday, August 01, 2004

Audiobooks and Graphic Novels

Lucky the person who can read in a moving vehicle without throwing up. I can't, which is why I've become devoted to audiobooks. We've listened to several on our roadtrips of the last year, but three are standouts.

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.
I'd read this one before listening, but found Kingsolver's writing even more beautiful when spoken aloud. (The dyslexic Ada chapters were also easier to follow for having read the book first.) We listened all 12 tapes while driving cross country last summer.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
I finished this one on my way to an academic conference that I feared I wouldn't reach in time for my presentation. Nothing like a little post-apocalyptic fiction to soothe one's nerves, right? The actor Scott Campbell did an outstanding job narrating this one. So outstanding, in fact, that I extolled his talent when I met Atwood later in the year. She gave me an annoyed glance, which, too late, made clear my faux pas. Note to self: Never admit to an author that, technically, you haven't read her book, or that your enjoyment of it came from anything other than her own skill.

Fortress of Solitude, by Jonathan Lethem
We're less than halfway through the 18.5 hours of tapes on this one, but, so far, we adore it. The New Yorker last year published a memorable short story version of Fortress, which prompted us to look for the book. Instead, we stumbled across the tapes, which our local library was offering unabridged. (Anything abridged is no good.) A few reviews indicate that the book loses some of its skill in the second half, but, for now, Lethem has definitely joined the ranks of my writerly heroes. (Pencil him on the list that includes Kingsolver, Pam Houston, Alice Munroe, Rick Bass, Tobias Wolff, Anne Fadiman, and Cheryl Strayed.)

Does my fondness for audiobooks help hasten our post-literate society? I'll come clean with the other ways that I'm doing my part. Yesterday, I also signed up for a Netflix account (coming soon: Altman's The Company and the original Manchurian Candidate!) and read a graphic novel. The latter is Brian K. Vaughan's Unmanned (Y: The Last Man, Book 1), a meditation on what would happen if a mysterious plague suddenly wiped out all the male organisms on earth save for Yorick Brown, a quippy English major and minor magician. Both Adam and I ripped through it. And then we promptly emailed interlibrary loan to request for the next two installments of the series. Can't wait...for books 2 and 3, and also for the series' conclusion, due out in December.


At 6:00 PM, Blogger Kingmob said...

I don't know if Benedict told you that I chose my moniker based on a comicbook character, a nifty series called the Invisibles. Comic books always have been one of my favorite hobbies and mediums of expression, and I've consumed my fair share of them in the years since 7th grade when I rediscovered them and started reading them as well. As for graphic novels, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the better ones you read, and I'd be happy to recommend some of the better books I've read that appear in collected form. Off the top of my head, try Watchmen written by the brillant Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Kingmob said...

Oh, and as for Lethem's book, I can't wait to read it. Chabon's Kavalier and Clay was terrific, and I hope this is just as good. Jay Cantor's "Great Neck" is another one that fits in with these literary looks at comic book creators.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Mel said...

yay for more book recommendations -- thanks! Netflix changed my life. I now feel completely entitled to rent whatever I want, even things I know will be crap, because they're already paid for -- and the more you rent, the cheaper they get. No more of that hesitating over B science fiction or sloppy romantic comedy, wondering if it's really worth $4.25.


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