Zimmerman, Killavey, and Benson are the formidable trio of narrators that bring us this collection of short stories by Mark Twain. Twain's satirical writing style and biting wit are showcased in this collection, including the famous Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg. Themes such as life in small-town America, human hypocrisy, lying, manners, and storytelling are explored, but these themes never get in the way of virtuosic storytelling and good old-fashioned entertainment.
A town that prides itself on its honesty finds itself severely tested. One of the demons Twain always set out to slay was the myth that the citizens of the American republic are inherently more virtuous than others. By the invention of an elaborate hoax, a kind of giant practical joke, Twain has his hero turn the town of Hadleyburg inside out and, in the process, teach the hypocrites who dwell there a lesson in humility and moral realism.
There are 12 other stories in this volume that display Twain's incredible range of humor and wit:
This audiobook, especially if you combine it with its companion recording "The $30,000 Bequest and Other Stories," gets five stars for selection: between them, they present Mark Twain's best short fiction. ("The Mysterious Stranger" doesn't make the cut here, unfortunately; but since most recordings of that story use a text seriously compromised by Twain's literary executor, that may be for the best.)
Unfortunately this audiobook, like "The $30,000 Bequest," suffers from uneven narration -- bad enough in places to bring the rating down to three stars. This in itself is not unusual for recordings of Twain short stories: the temptation to fake the accent, the bluster, or the comic energy seems too strong for most narrators. Probably my favorite recording of a Twain short story is Norman Dietz doing "The Stolen White Elephant" (available on his recording of "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg"). Compared to that, these efforts come in as poor seconds.
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