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AUDIOBOOKS: Memoir, novel, and short stories

This week we offer to audiophiles a memoir written by a comedian, a dystopian novel, and an unusual collection of short stories.

This week we offer to audiophiles a memoir written by a comedian, a dystopian novel, and an unusual collection of short stories. Please remember that all titles, including downloads, are available at your local bookstore and library.

Dry
Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman; read by the authors and a full cast
Simon & Schuster Audioworks, nine CDs, 11 hours, $39.99/www.audible.com download, $22.67

When Southern California runs out of water in what is called the “Tap-Out,” people become more intense versions of themselves: Some work toward survival, some prey upon others. Yes, we have seen this premise before (“Lord of the Flies”), but this is told from a female perspective and unfolds cleverly while frightening the listener for being eerily close to reality. Though there are some mature themes, this young-adult novel is fine for anyone 13 and above, and compelling enough for adults. The full cast of narrators means the many characters never confuse us, as each has his or her own voice. Best of all, this thought-provoking story will give you plenty to discuss with your children regarding the reality of water shortages in this country. Grade: A-minus

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Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations, and Observations
Craig Ferguson; read by the author
Random House Audio, eight hours and three minutes, www.audible.com, $24.50

Comedian, talk show host and actor Ferguson isn’t shy about revealing his bad-boy days when addiction to alcohol and drugs ruled his life. However, his wicked sense of humor is always on display as he pieces together his life in a series of essays that more or less lay out his life in chronological order. Sometimes a bit too graphic, he takes you to the edge of a story that nearly makes you cringe and then surprises you with a laugh. His narration is graceful and polished and very easy on the ears thanks to that lovely Scottish burr. Grade: B-plus

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You Know You Want This
Kristen Roupenian; read by eight narrators
Simon & Schuster Audio, seven hours and 30 minutes, www.audible.com download, $21.81    

This is well-read, well-written and weird as hell. All of the stories are dark, twisted and mired in sexuality. The subject matter is adult and not for anyone easily offended, so expect guilt and punishment and anger. Much pain is doled out in stories in which fantasy, pedophilia, necrophilia and murder all figure heavily. “Cat Person,” the most hyped story in the collection, is a creepy gem of a tale about rejection, but some of the others feel rushed in spots. The narrators all rise to the occasion by helping to shock or disgust the listener through their performances, though, thankfully, not a one is overdone. Grade: B