Selections in Volume 1:
"A Journey" by Edith Wharton - A woman tries to conceal the death of her husband on a train trip.
"Impulse" by Conrad Aiken � After a lifetime of pushing his luck, a man pushes it a little too far.
"Only the Dead Know Brooklyn" by Thomas Wolfe � A lonely man with a map tries to understand a little piece of the earth.
"A Christian Education" by Robert Penn Warren � A troubled farmer recalls the life and death of a retarded boy.
"Barn Burning" by William Faulkner � In prose as fully mature and beautiful as anything he ever wrote, this is one of the most searing indictments of revenge ever put on paper.
"Paul's Case" by Willa Cather � A youth decides to put his life of fantasy and that of the real world on a collision course.
"The Devil and Daniel Webster" by Stephen Vincent Benét � This beautiful, riproaring tall-tale embraces all that is good in American life.
© and (P)2004 Audio Connoisseur
"Charlton Griffin is dazzlingly good, with regional accents, with the change in timbre from a boy's voice to a woman's and a man's, and most of all with his nuanced understanding of how to deliver the narrative from writer to reader without getting himself in the way." (AudioFile)
"With its flawless technical recording values and masterful presentation, this first volume in the Audio Connoisseur Classic American Short Stories series will leave the listener eagerly awaiting a second volume!" (Midwest Book Review)
The stories in this collection represent probably the best writing that has been accomplished in American literature. This is the good stuff, much of which you may have already come across in high school or college. In the hands of Charlton Griffin, these stories have been transformed into audible works of art. I didn't find these magnificent pieces depressing at all, and I must say that hearing them performed so well was a revelation. America has made a great contribution to world literature and hearing this collection will make you realize this. An educated person needs to hear this one.
I can't imagine a better reader--with the possible exception of Richard Brown, who narrated many of the O'Brian novels (Master and Commander, etc). The sound effects (trains, subways, old-time fiddle music) transform the reading--brilliant in itself; Griffin does an immense range of voice and accents--into something even greater. One reviewer complained that the stories are dark. Well, sure, most of them are dark. What else is new?
The stories in this collection are generally strong, but the performance is overproduced. When a character hears a Strauss waltz in his imagination, I don't need the producer to literally include it. I have an imagination too! There is too much music, too many sound effects in every story. The narrator has a wonderful voice, but was overly melodramatic at times. I agree with a previous reviewer - it should not be about the narrator, and it should not be about sound effects. Let the music of the language carry. For a contrast, check out the short stories of Zora Neale Hurston narrated by Renee Joshua Porter. What an amazing delivery, but the narrative still shines through.
What a bunch of downer stories! The writing was eloquent and poetic. The reading was excellent. The Faulkner story was especially poignant. But why would anyone put these stories together for a collection? Five of the seven stories turn on someone dying a sad and lonely death. All except Daniel Webster are totally humorless. These stories should come with a cyanide capsule. Oops, I think that was the plot of one of the stories...
Five stars for the stories, a half-star for the narrator whose affected resonance and melodramatic thoughtfulness draw more attention to themselves than to the texts. Narrators like this make me want to say: It's not about you, it's about the book.
Good short stories and narrating is very good. I kind of liked that some of the stories are a little on the downer side - it sucks you into the characters. But it just wasn't too entertaining for me. I was a little bored. It was kind of like watching an old black and white movie. Its a classic, but still an old black and white. I'll take Matrix over Casa Blanca any day. If you prefer Casa Blanca you might like this.
I was looking to improve my American Literature experience so I selected this book. I have been very disappointed. The subject is very depressing, the topics appears to be peoples "death". People???s death or killing themselves thru literature is not my idea of a good read. The world has so many negative things happening so a book about American short stories should be more positive and upbeat. If you are a depressed person stay very clear of this book it will not be good for you.
Get out of the negative world of "Death"
I made a big mistake purchasing this book.
I have been most disappointed with this selection, and every short story selected to be part of this recording is awful. Not only are not very entertaining, they each end with a death, or similar dark ending. I will also document that half of the stories don't end, as an ending per se, but leave the reader in a lurch. Save your money and save four and a half hours of your life, better spent standing in a picket line or grocery store line.
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