With all the deserved praise about the breakout hit podcast Serial, produced by NPR’s This American Life, it got me thinking about other superb audio experiences I’ve had. To be fair, there’s not a lot for the simple fact that I don’t listen to many audio books, preferring instead to read, both paper and e-books. Nevertheless I have had a few truly outstanding experiences in listening to a book, that took my pleasure in the writing and story far beyond the pale, to the point where they are lodged in my memory firmly. Here’s one, and it should appeal to anyone whose held captive by the Serial podcast.
In the mid-1990s, a non-fiction crime story was published, a massive tome, and stayed a record 216 weeks on the NYT bestseller list (no other non-fiction book has beaten it, according to Wikipedia): Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Like Serial, it is a richly woven tale of a multi-layered mystery around a murder, involving a huge array of characters. The book itself is a hell of a read, but I will never get over listening to the audio book, read by Anthony Heald. In researching this post, I see that this was the abridgment audio book–which I’d forgotten. (So I don’t know about the narration of the unabridged version.) All I know is that the subtlety of Mr. Heald’s inflections as he voiced the narrator and all the characters, effortlessly distinguishing each, brought a very clear picture of them into my mind, and kept me riveted.
In the 90s, I worked long-hours for a corporation as an anonymous tech; I had a long and ugly commute each day, inching along in my little economy car. But I walked among the enigmatic people of Savannah for that one hour-plus commute to and from work for a few weeks. And I remember sitting, absolutely stock still in my driveway, not even thinking about getting out of the car until that amazing voice came to a pause.
It is still available from Audible and other standard outlets. Worth the listen.