The following audiobooks were nominated in the Solo Narration – Male Category. This category is being reviewed by Melanie from Overreader, Michele from my book, my life, and Trish from Love, Laughter, Insanity. Would you like to join the crowd? Sign up here.
The Absolutist by John Boyne and narrated by Michael Maloney
Tristan is at once knowable and intriguing, a man struggling with his identity, his actions, his relationship with his family, and his place in the war. He’s only 21, but after enlisting at 17 and serving several years in the trenches “over there,” his soul is an old man’s. But his heart is still as precariously confused and frightened as it was when his father kicked him out at 16 for transgressions that clearly have to do with his unreciprocated feelings towards his best friend.
This is a story of friendship, pushed to its limits. My heart broke a little at the conclusion of this one, and I am still thinking about it weeks later. It’s a novel that makes you examine your own moral compass a little more closely.
Michael Maloney’s narration of The Absolutist is at times quiet and subdued but the narration also contains a vast emotional range and perfect pacing. For me Maloney’s exacting narration of The Absolutist was the winner of the group.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Ballerini is a new-to-me narrator, and I enjoyed him ever so much. The Italian accents were charming, and his handling of many different Hollywood types (producer, writer, actors) felt spot-on.
Beautiful is really the perfect word to describe this book. The tales that are told are poignant and honest. Mistakes are made, people are flawed, and lives don’t quite work out the way they are planned.
Edoardo Ballerini brings Beautiful Ruins and the cast of characters to life. Ballerini’s Italian accents are spot-on (though I did have some troubles believing the British accents) and each character was nearly perfectly depicted. Beautiful Ruins and Edoardo Ballerini provided an excellent listening experience.
Being There by Jerzy Kosinski and narrated by Dustin Hoffman
Kosinski’s deadpan portrait of Chance’s life is relentless in its take-down of media and politics. Hoffman’s understated affability suited the narration brilliantly. He has a friendly, trustworthy tone – “laconic and matter-of-fact,” as a reporter describes Chance – and leaves the listener free to snap up the parody throughout.
This book is actually very clever, and the more I think about it, the more I like it….It’s a satire about the political world that works just as well in 2013 as it did in 1971.
Dustin Hoffman’s narration of Being There fits well with the tone of the book–his narration is controlled and matter-of-fact but I found it boring and tiresome. The audio was almost a DNF for me but I had to remind myself that it was less than three hours. It was a long three hours.
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene and narrated by Colin Firth
This is up for the Solo Narration – Male category of the Audies awards, and it’s my sacred duty as an #ArmchairAudies reviewer to give you the skinny on why I kept forgetting to do my job so I could listen to this book. (Good thing it was only 6.5 hours long.)
Colin Firth’s voice is incredibly luxurious and dreamy. This is a book I feel I should read rather than listen because the writing is so rich (and I’ve since bought the book to read), but listening to Colin Firth narrate for six hours was a pleasure. His narration was subdued but passionate, measured but paced appropriate, and man oh man that accent.
The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff and narrated by Simon Vance
Hoff’s book has been out for 20 years, and I remember flipping through it once in a while, but I’d never gone front to back with it before. It’s interesting, and cleverly assembled to make points about Taoism using the familiar tales of beloved Pooh Bear. Rescuing Roo from the river, finding the “North Pole,” hunting heffalumps, and just being with Piglet and Christopher Robin all serve to illustrate the benefits of not over-thinking life, taking it as it comes, and trusting that solutions to problems will surface when needed.
Like always, Vance does an excellent job. His voices for those beloved characters are spot on. This is an enjoyable listen.
It is no secret that Simon Vance is a well-loved and highly sought-out voice narrator. Had this one been longer than 3 hours I think that Vance would have been my pick for Male Narration winner, but I finally had to factor in the duration into my decision. Vance’s narration is charming and witty and his character depictions are absolutely delightful and believable. I know that when I read the book I’ll carry Vance’s voice with me–and that’s certainly not a bad thing!