Books: Spoken Word

Cereus Blooms at Night
Cereus Blooms at Night

read by Art Malik

HarperCollins, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

"WHY DO audiobooks need reviewing?" said a spoken-word philistine to me the other day. "Surely they're all the same, just books read aloud." Art Malik's powerful and pacy presentation of Shani Mootoo's ought to be enough to convert him. No; on second thoughts, he is much too conservative to enjoy this horrific but life-enhancing story of savage incest, madness and redemption. But it's a fine example of how much an excellent reader adds to a text - and how an astute abridger judges just what is bearable heard aloud and what is not. Trust me, try it.

Iris, A Memoir

read by Derek Jacobi

HarperCollins, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

APOLOGIES FOR rather a flood of Derek Jacobi recommendations, but Iris, A Memoir is quite simply one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. I didn't buy the book, not being a fan of Murdoch's novels and unable to imagine that I could enjoy any sort of account of her decline into Alzheimer's. But I was quickly hooked by the love, wisdom and humour so disarmingly, openly offered by John Bayley. There is also much unconventional but remarkably nourishing food for thought about the nature of marriage, all greatly enhanced by Jacobi's candid, unhurried reading.

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