Narrator Norman Dietz does not disappoint in this comical and oftentimes poignant collection of seven Mark Twain short stories. He’s as comfortable with delivering the rustic speech of Jim Smiley, the notorious bettor who gets hoodwinked in the title story, as he is with portraying an exasperated Adam as he copes with Eve in the Garden of Eden in "The Diaries of Adam and Eve." There’s a deadpan quality to Dietz’s comedic delivery that adds to the humor. The smooth, deep tone of his voice is pleasing to the ear. His somewhat slow pace fits a collection written during a simpler, less hurried time.
Originally published in 1865, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" began Mark Twain's remarkable career, and immediately demonstrated his masterful storytelling and brilliant sense of humor. This delightful tale introduces Jim Smiley, a man who loved to gamble, whether on horse races, dogfights, catfights, or even how long it took bugs to cross the Mexican border. When a gullible stranger came to town, Smiley boasted that his pet frog, Dan'l Webster, could outjump any frog in the county. Smiley, figuring it would be easy money, eagerly made a bet with the stranger, who had a secret plan to stop Dan'l in his tracks. This wickedly funny collection also includes several of Twain's other great short stories, including "A True Story", "Extracts from Adam's Diary", and "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed."
"Wonderful fare for the recreational listener." (Booklist)
I guess I've been spoiled by the excellent quality of many Audible "format 4" recordings. This one, available only in format 2, sounds like a reel-to-reel tape made from an old radio broadcast. I generally like Norman Dietz as a reader of Mark Twain: I particularly enjoyed his reading of "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories." But the sound quality here is so bad, I just couldn't finish it.
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