Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
Master Georgie

Chivers, 4.5hrs, pounds 13.95

Slaughterhouse Five

Isis, 5.5hrs,

pounds 14.99

RUNNER-UP FOR this year's Booker, Beryl Bainbridge's love story of an arrogant young Englishman and the foundling who was virtually sister, mistress and mother to him as he grew up, became a doctor and found his Nemesis in the Crimea, lends itself well to audio, since it is told in strange sidelong glimpses from a succession of involved narrators. As it is short enough to fit unabridged onto four cassettes, there seems little point in not buying this version (mail order 01225 335336). Paul McGann reads with just the right mix of tenderness, aloofness and obsession. But there are times when it isn't clear the narrator has changed.

KURT VONNEGUT'S Slaughterhouse Five had a cult following when it first came out in 1969. This unabridged reading is a welcome reminder of another anti-war, uncertainly sentimental tale. It follows the story of Billy Pilgrim, whose scarring experiences in the Second World War send him into demented freefall when the Vietnam conflict breaks out. It's a harmless dementia in which he experiences past, present and the fantasy of time travelling in the planet Tralfamadore - to illuminating effect as to American society. William Dufris is a superb reader, changing convincingly into one character after another.

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