2014 was an interesting year of reading. While I haven’t managed to read as much as I wanted, what I’ve read has changed. A look at format, genre, price, and authorial gender and nationality.
Rosa Parks was not the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a bus for a white person. I know, I didn’t know this either. It’s not our fault. Claudette Colvin had done the same nine months before. She was not considered by African American civil rights leaders to be a suitable symbol for the campaign against segregationist legislation. She was too young (she was fifteen), perceived to be too fiesty and too emotional, and too working class to be an appropriate figurehead to inspire revolution among her fellow African American residents of Montgomery, Alabama. She suffered more at the hands of the police than Ms. Parks (Colvin was jailed, among other things), more scorn from her neighbours and supposed friends than Ms. Parks, and yet she’s been conveniently forgotten by the press, the historians and the public.
Surprisingly Miss Marple isn’t the protagonist, instead it’s a self-deprecating vicar with a dry sense of humour in his middle years who married in haste to his young wife and is repenting at leisure. He proposed to her after knowing her a day. A day! He’s so humble he claims his own sermons are dull.
‘The sneeze was not a usual kind of sneeze. It was, I presume, a special murderer’s sneeze.’
Okay, so I didn’t enjoy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but I had a free audio of Through the Looking Glass voiced by Miriam Margolyes, and I thought, why not?
Fans of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series may be interested in this one as Stein imagines Adele Stackhouse’s (Sookie’s grandmother) affair with Fintan, a fairy, written as extracts of Adele’s long-lost diary from that time period.
Looks at title.
Hannibal, is that you?
Do not read this, listen to it.
Besides the veritable buffet of Hollywood A-listers from various ethnic backgrounds providing narrations, there’s beautiful music and songs in the interludes between stories and in the stories themselves. I’ve derived much enjoyment from the imaginative and enthusiastic performances from the narrators, most of whom possess great skills with accents. Even if you don’t recognise a couple of the narrators’ names, odds are you’d recognise their faces.
Whoopi Goldberg and Hugh Jackman’s performances were outstanding though most were above average.
Urban legends, origin stories, fables, parables, myths, magic, time travel, African versions of well-known fairy tales, clever and devious characters, and emotionally touching stories – what more could you want?
Well, the publisher has donated 100% of its takings from the audio to Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Artists for New South Africa who work with children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Here’s a rundown of the folktales:
Polar bears in drag. Zombie birds. Pink glass dogs. Baum’s politically incorrect fairy tales have them all. Stereotypical Italian criminals aside, I enjoyed these stories of bargains gone wrong and villains reaping what they sow, with morals preaching against the seven deadly sins.
I listened to the free Librivox version expertly narrated by Matthew Reece.
Sold is a lyrically beautiful and graphically descriptive story of an innocent 13-year-old Nepalese girl from the mountains, sold by her oppressive gambling addict step-father and trafficked into India to become a prostitute in a brothel run by a woman with no morals. There, Lakshmi’s body is sold for the price of a Coca-Cola – a luxury she’d once cherished as a poor country girl. When she’d left home, she’d believed she was to become a maid in a rich woman’s household in the big city where she could save and send money home to her beloved mother and her baby brother. The reality is soul-crushing. She’s told so many lies she doesn’t know what to believe.
Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex) did a brilliant job in voicing the title role of Oedipus in what I found to be an ‘easier’ to understand translation by Duncan Steen for the full cast audio.
I’m glad I’ve finally read the famous, fabulously sensational story of incest and patricide about the man who kills his father and marries his mother, after encountering Freud’s derivative Oedipus Complex in psychology class a decade ago.