Saturday, May 13, 2006

Heard Any Good Books Lately?

If anybody besides me reads this blog (a doubtful prospect, since I've gotten a grand total of ONE non-spam comment), they know that I love audiobooks. They're one step closer to pure storytelling since all the listener has to convey character, action, setting, and mood are the reader's voice and his own imagination. I also like them for the practical reason that you can listen to them while doing other things: riding in the car, eating dinner, doing the dishes, getting dressed, etc.

During my TV-free Lent I listened to two audiobooks for teens that I thought were really good--one quite extraordinary in fact. I often think that the stuff being published for kids and teens today is far more interesting than the stuff being published for adults. The novelist Martin Amis said as much in an article I read about ten years ago when I was still in library school. He complained that there was far too much self-consciously literary fiction being written in a needlessly artsy style in which dull little characters struggled through their dull little lives, wrestled with their existential angst, and wondered about The Meaning Of It All. He argued that if a writer was interested solely in creating good characters and telling a good story he would almost have to write for children. Children don't care about exquisitely crafted prose, pretentious literary allusions, or characters struggling to find Meaning in their lives, he said. (Perhaps teens do want to find meaning, and in fact I think that's the subject of one of the books I want to review below, but I think the substance of his argument holds true). What children and teens want most are solid, believable, interesting characters and compelling stories. Speaking only for myself I can say that many adults want them too. With that in mind, I want to devote the next several posts to the following audiobooks I've listened to recently.

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