From the poignant novel about a troubled Southern family, written when he was 26, William Styron reads with tenderness about the disabled younger child finding joy in the magic tricks of a workman, as her mother looks on, knowing her child’s sad fate.
James Baldwin gives an electrifying reading about a young gay American in Paris recalling a dramatic and transforming incident from his boyhood, as he struggles to accept his sexual identity.
In the first passage James Baldwin reads with passion about the suicide of a young black man in despair. The second passage takes place at his funeral service, where Baldwin speaks with both anger and eloquence, in the voice of the minister attempting to comfort his friends and family.
"The book is great but this is only an extract."
Playing three roles with verve, Philip Roth gives a hilariously comic performance of two old men living in a cheap rooming house who pay a visit to a diffident graduate student to ask a convoluted and unusual favor.
Nelson Algren brings a deeply personal tone to his reading about Sophie, the doomed wife of card dealer and drug addict Frankie Machine, wanted for murder, as she waits futilely for him to return home.
James Jones, who served in combat in the Pacific in World War II, creates a scene of confusion and brutal devastation, as American soldiers struggle against an invincible enemy, and valiant young lives are destroyed.
James Baldwin reading from Another Country and Giovanni's Room; WIlliam Styron reading from Lie Down in Darkness; James Jones reading from From Here to Eternity; and Philip Roth reading from Letting Go.
The young John Updike’s portrayal of a haughty seminary student working as a lifeguard is witty and poetic, as the naïve hero surveys the beachgoers in his care, and contemplates a future of saving souls as well as bodies.
Nelson Algren reading from The Man With the Golden Arm, James Jones reading from The Thin Red Line, John Updike reading “Lifeguard” from Pigeon Feathers and Other, Bernard Malamud reading from “The Mourners” from The Magic Barrre.
In Bernard Malamud’s short story "The Mourners", two old Jews, a landlord and tenant battling over a cheap apartment, are transformed from arch-enemies into companions in grief, as their common sorrows suddenly transcend their bitter antagonism.
James Jones brings powerful emotion and expression to his reading of the famous passage from his celebrated World War II novel in which Private Prewitt plays a version of Taps that expresses "the requiem of the common soldier".