Books: Audiobooks

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E Annie Proulx's laconic writing is even better heard than read. Newfoundland eccentricities and the "four women in every man's heart" come through sharp as ice in The Shipping News (Simon & Schuster, 4.5 hrs, pounds 11.99), though its abridgement may lose newcomers a little sympathy for its outwardly fleshly, inwardly soulful hero, and Robert Joy's voice occasionally flattens out.

Critics wavered when dealt Accordion Crimes (S&S, 5 hrs, pounds 11.99), Proulx's sensual serial portrait of the immigrants that make up America. But its episodic form works well on audio, and Edward Hermann's reading is brilliantly sustained.

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