Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
Finnegans Wake

by James Joyce

Naxos, 5hrs, pounds 15.99

JAMES JOYCE'S famously inaccessible final work recently came 11th in a poll of novels of the century. If your reaction to its dreamlike patchwork of European languages is "drop this jiggerypokery and talk straight turkey meet to mate" (to quote the book itself), help is at hand. In what must be the most innovative and ambitious audiobook ever, the full text of the extracts is provided, so you can see, hear and appreciate - impossible in any other way to appreciate fooly the dyblong tendresses (sorry, it's infectious). Hearing the words in rhythmic Irish accents is also essential.

A Song of Stone

by Iain Banks

Cult Listening, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

NOT ONE for Aunt Mabel or the faint-hearted, Iain Banks's chilling gothic tale is so powerfully and fluently phrased that it makes mesmerising listening. Abel and Morgan, a mysteriously allied couple, are in flight from their ancestral castle in a postwar panic in unlabelled terrain. A charismatic woman lieutenant takes them back there and, slowly, mutual understanding grows - and then falters. All credit to reader Peter Capaldi, whose husky, lightly Glaswegian voice puts over the urgency, passion and resigned despair of the story superbly.