In 1956, Updike published a story, "Snowing in Greenwich Village," about a young couple, Joan and Richard Maple, at the beginning of their marriage. Over the next two decades, he returned to these characters again and again, tracing their years together raising children, finding moments of intermittent happiness, and facing the heartbreak of infidelity and estrangement.
©2009 Everyman's Library. All rights reserved.; (P)2009 BBC Audio
The performance drags down the stories here. Updike is a master of prose and characters, but Van Norden's reading has numerous problems: Pacing (he's too fast, never dynamic); Accents (I'm from the North Shore of Boston, where the Maples live, and his attempt at the middle class accent of minor characters is cringe-worthy); Consistency (often you can hear when there's a re-recorded section spliced in, because his timbre and tone are noticeably different in such moments). Overall, Van Norden's flaws are too distracting and I plan to avoid his other work.
Updike himself had a musical, lilting tenor voice, which he used to great effect in reading his own works publicly and in some recorded poems. For upcoming recordings of Updike's work, I suggest a similarly-voice, dynamic reader who can handle regional and class accents.
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