56 Booklist February 1, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
decided to stop trying to fit in. She forthrightly
discusses her parents, including her father’s
desertion of the family and eventual heroin
overdose, as well as her mother’s decision to
come out of the closet. She also talks about
motherhood, marriage, divorce, her writing career, and weight issues, including her decision
to go under the knife to lose weight. Weiner
reads in a calm, soothing manner, occasionally raising her tones when portraying her two
young daughters and her high-pitched literary
agent. Not as ribald as Amy Schumer’s The Girl
with the Lower Back Tattoo (2016), also competently read by the author, but just as honest and
sincere, with both women baring their souls to
their fandom. —Sue-Ellen Beauregard
A Life in Parts.
By Bryan Cranston. Read by the
2016. 9hr. Simon & Schuster Audio, CD, $29.99
In this engaging memoir, Tony and Emmy
Award winner Cranston chronicles the vari-
ous roles he has taken
onscreen, on the stage,
and in life, mov-
ing from his difficult
childhood and turbu-
lent relationships to his
success as an actor with
roles on Malcolm in the
Middle and, of course,
Breaking Bad. Cranston warmly narrates his
own book and does it so naturally that listeners
will forget he’s reading and imagine him simply
Grover Gardner’s wonderfully companionable narration and impeccable performances— rich in accents, dramatic tension, and emotional depth—immerse listeners in the
world of all he reads, from the Old West to outer space and from fiction classics to nonfic-
tion biographies and histories. He’s the Jimmy Stewart of the narrating world, often giving
heartwarming performances but just as effectively portraying sinister voices. Whatever he
narrates, his smooth baritone guarantees an absorbing listening experience.
The Accursed. By Joyce Carol Oates. 2013. 23hr. Books on Tape, CD, $60
Beneath the surface of the refined Princeton University society at the
turn of the twentieth century lies a growing evil in the form of demons,
vampires, and ghosts in Oates’ gothic tale. Gardner’s tones have just the
right blend of culture and irony to carry the story.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. By Mark Twain. 2008. 7hr. Blackstone,
CD, $70 (9781433215919). Gr. 5–8.
Gardner’s reading of Twain’s classic convinces us why certain titles remain in the pantheon of must-reads (and must-listens). His resonant tones
and authentic-sounding country accents make it sound almost as if Twain
himself were telling the familiar story.
Andersonville. By MacKinlay Kantor. 2015. 37hr. Brilliance, CD, $14.99
Gardner masterfully re-creates the voices and stories of the distinctive
characters in this haunting novel, which takes listeners inside Andersonville, the notorious Southern prison camp.
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. By Lois McMaster Bujold. 2016.
12.5hr. Brilliance, CD, $105 (9781504667036).
Gardner’s wonderfully companionable reading evokes series characters
with affection and involves listeners in the story’s witty and heartwarming
pleasures in this long-running science-fiction series that combines science, adventure, and often a touch of romance.
Play Dead. By David Rosenfelt. 2007. 9hr. Listen & Live Audio, CD, $29.95
Gardner’s engaging narration brings out the offbeat humor, dramatic
tension, and droll wit of the Andy Carpenter mysteries, which star an
easygoing lawyer with a soft spot for dogs.
Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World—from the Trans-Siberian to the
Southwest Chief. By Tom Zoellner. 2014. 12hr. Tantor, CD, $42.99 (9781452616728).
Gardner makes the perfect companion on this journey across landscapes and through
history in this intriguing chronicle of the railroad. His narration reflects both Zoellner’s
earnestness (he argues the importance of the railroads for freight travel as well as human transportation) and his enthusiasm, often leavened with humor, for his subject.
News of the World.
By Paulette Jiles. Read by Grover Gardner.
2016. 6hr. Brilliance, CD, $59.97 (9781511356787).
At the end of America’s Civil War, aged veteran Captain
Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas with his
portfolio of journals and newspapers, reading the news to
small-town residents who pay a dime for the performance.
Agreeing to return former Kiowa captive 10-year-old Jo-
hanna Leonberger to her relatives, Kidd turns south for
Castroville, below San Antonio. Gardner’s deliciously
rich, low tones match the personality
of this sometimes curmudgeonly yet
tenderhearted father and grandfather.
Thoughts of San Antonio fill his head
as Captain Kidd recalls his Spanish
wife, and her accented voice peppers
his memories. Johanna, called “Cicada”
by the Kiowa, gradually responds to
his attempts at conversation and “civi-
lized” manners, especially when his voice turns patient and
soothing. She calls him “Captain,” always pronouncing it
as “Keptin,” and, when collecting dimes at Captain Kidd’s
readings, blurts out an “Achtung” when someone walks by
without depositing the required admission. As the miles
aggregate, Kidd no longer views Johanna as a burden and
relies on her help when forced to fight a man who wants to
buy her. Completing their 400-mile journey and reaching
Johanna’s strict, heavily accented German aunt and uncle
is not quite the end of the journey in this endearing tale of
a unique friendship. —Pam Spencer Holley
Now Hear This
ALSO NARRATED BY
BY JOYCE SARICKS