iPods, tapes, cds…lot of ways to listen to books while yer driving, unloading bowling balls, or rakin the yard. I’m not here to tell you which device to use. Rather, I’m gonna just give scores to the presentation. For those of you who have never tried audio books, it is different. It’s not like reading, but those of you whose parents read to you will easily slip into the experience. It’s not like listening to music; you have to pay attention; don’t try to drive in heavy traffic while listening to a book; you will lose track of the story line.
Every week I’ll review a book, and rank it by content and performance; a great story can be ruined by the reading. My first selection is The Bridge at San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder, read by Sam Waterston. I will avoid giving away important aspects of the plot.
THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY, was published in 1927 to worldwide acclaim. The plot is deceptively simple: On July 20, 1714, “the finest bridge in all Peru” collapses and five people die. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan missionary, happens to witness the tragedy, and as a result, he asks the central question of the novel: “Why did this happen to those five?”
As much as anything else, this is a story of the varieties of love. The story is intricately drawn, with interweaving plots that finally draw the five to their final moments together. There is very little in the way of “action”, violence, or overt sex. The tone is almost that of a Victorian novel, but is compelling, nonetheless. The ending is, of course, known almost from the outset, but there are some twists and suspense nonetheless. I give the story a score of 3 out of 4. I would give it 3.5, but let’s not quibble here, shall we?
Waterston’s reading is superbly matched to the story. I give him 4 out of 4.
I will definitely listen to this again.