09 June 2016

Sound Recommendations: Audiobook Hits & Misses

Review: I Was Really Very Hungry: A Portrait of MFK Fisher by Kelly NesporI Was Really Very Hungry: A Portrait of M. F. K. Fisher is a collection of Fisher's writings that was adapted for the theater by Kelly Nespor for L.A. Theatre Works. Fisher, if you don't know, was one of the original food writers, and if you are familiar with her work, you'll recognize many of the scenes compiled here. The audiobook is a recording of the theater production and is read by a full cast, headed by Anne Archer as Fisher. All the actors, and especially Archer, captured the personalities of characters, giving the production a believable emotional depth. The pieces making up this audiobook are linked by their focus on the many types of appetites, such as hunger, sex, love, and ambition. The audiobook production is well done and maintains the theater feel by retaining the audience's reaction to the stage play. Probably best suited for Fisher's fans.

Review: Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma LakshmiLove, Loss, and What We Ate is a memoir written and narrated by Padma Lakshmi. I normally shy away from author-read audiobooks, but I had confidence that Lakshmi's television experience would make her a good narrator. I was right, and it was pleasure to hear her read her own story. I was interested in her journey from India to America and from model to food television fame. And, of course, I was curious about her marriage to Salman Rushdie. Lakshmi's performance is relaxed and conversational, making you feel as if you were listening to a friend talk about her life. Besides a little celebrity gossip, Lakshmi frankly shares her issues with infertility and endometriosis, giving this memoir broad appeal.

Review: Reign of Shadows by Sophie JordanReign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan is a sort of mashup of dystopian fiction and the fairy tale "Rapunzel." I know, sounds really weird, but the story kind of worked. The characters were good, the love story had some depth, and the action scenes were vivid, but the overall world-building was lacking. In addition, the characters sometimes acted in unbelievable ways (a blind girl found her way through an unfamiliar forest, for example). Still, the performances by Phoebe Strole and James Fouhey were well done and emphasized the differences between the two main characters. Listen to this if you are a fan of fairy tale retellings or zombie stories, otherwise I think you'll be safe to pass on it.

Review: Save Room for Pie by Roy Blount Jr.I like Roy Blount Jr. and I like food writing, so Save Room for Pie seemed like a good match for me. The audiobook is a compilation of essays in which Blount talks about dishes from his childhood, eating local, raising chickens, and going fishing, among other topics. The stories are mostly amusing and are read by Blount himself, who has years of experience behind the mic. I particularly liked the contrasts between his Southern upbringing and his current New England life, especially in terms of how he eats. Although the subtitle of the book is "Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations," there is no singing. Unfortunately I can't quite recommend this wholeheartedly. The performance was fine, but I began to tire of the stories by the end of the audiobook. If you're curious, I suggest listening to this a piece or two at time, perhaps on your commute.

7 comments:

Daryl 6/9/16, 8:16 AM  

while i am not an audio book lover, two of my dearest friends are .. they live in 'the valley' and spend a lot of time in their cars .. so i am definitely glad you shared these! thanks!

Katherine P 6/9/16, 9:09 AM  

Sounds like a good mix of books and even the ones you didn't love don't sound like total losses. I really want to read the Padma Lakshmi book so I'm really glad you enjoyed it and enjoyed the audio!

bermudaonion 6/9/16, 9:09 AM  

Love, Loss, and What We Ate is probably the one that is the best fit for me.

Vicki 6/9/16, 12:45 PM  

Love, Loss, and What We Ate and Save Room for Pie sounds really good.

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/9/16, 9:18 PM  

I was curious about Padma's book, she has such an interesting story.

Mae Travels 6/10/16, 7:53 AM  

M.F.K.FIsher intrigues so many people! I recently read her great-nephew's book about her and other cooking greats "Provence 1970" and also read some of her works. So this sounds interesting, though I'm not normally a fan of podcasts -- prefer to read.

Like you, I steer clear of celebrity and TV chefs, though I agree that details of the unlikely marriage between Padma and Rushdie could be interesting -- you didn't say if it satisfied your curiosity.

Roy Blount used to appear on A Prairie Home Companion, and I liked his brief monologues, but wonder if he could sustain an entire book -- you don't make me think he could.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Trish 6/10/16, 9:42 AM  

I hadn't heard of Padma Lakshmi until I saw you and Swapna discussing her audio on twitter and you've definitely piqued my interest. I do enjoy celebrity/author read memoirs (usually)--I'm listening to The Happiness Project right now narrated by the author. Of course I'll NEVER forget my experience listening to Donna Tartt read The Secret History. So terrible. ;)

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