Image courtesy audible.com

AUDIOBOOKS: Short stories

This week we are listening to three collections of short stories, including one by Truman Capote that opens up a window to another time, and a very timely collection that addresses race, but told with cunning and insight.

This week we are listening to three collections of short stories, including one by Truman Capote that opens up a window to another time, and a very timely collection that addresses race, but told with cunning and insight. Please remember that all titles, including downloads, are available at your local bookstore and library.

Heads of the Colored People: Stories
Nafissa Thompson-Spires; read by Adenrele Ojo
HighBridge Audio, six hours, five CDs, $17.49/www.audible.com download, $17.49

Funny, fast-paced and expertly narrated, this is an unexpected delight. The focus here is black identity amongst the middle class, and Thompson-Spires has a sweetly sly sense of humor. For instance, in “A Conversation About Bread,” two graduates discuss the merits of aping the habits of white people while a white woman listens in. They decide that croissants are fine, but brioche crosses the line. Ojo is a name to remember — she can be snarky, youthful, depressed or sarcastic. She molds her flexible voice to each story and character with such ease that she greatly enhances this already engrossing collection of stories. Grade: A-minus

Image courtesy audible.com

The Grass Harp: Including A Tree of Life and Other Stories
Truman Capote; read by Cody Roberts
Tantor Audio, 10 hours/www.audible.com download, $17.49

First published in 1951 when the author was only 26, this captures a time and a place long gone but clearly not to be forgotten. In the novella “The Grass Harp,” trouble ensues when 11-year-old orphaned Collin is sent to live with two squabbling and eccentric maiden aunts. Based on his own family history, Capote’s fiction is rife with both quiet humor and a poignancy that creeps up on you and won’t let go. Roberts speaks with a lyrical Southern accent and plenty of attitude, but is equally as effective when he drops the accent and softens his voice for female characters in later stories. His various voices are nothing less than colorful and lively. Grade: A-minus

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You Think It, I’ll Say It
Curtis Sittenfeld; read by Emily Rankin and Mark Deakins
Random House Audio, seven hours, six CDs, $35/www.audible.com download, $24.50

Lust, love, disappointment, aging and speaking one’s mind are all themes woven into Sittenfeld’s fine collection of short stories. Some of her middle-aged, middle-class characters are flawed to the point of being unlikeable, but none are uninteresting. One woman fantasizes a romance with another parent at her child’s school only to realize that the truth does not match her hopeful daydreams. In other stories, old loves are confronted and jealousies are reexamined. Sittenfeld covers every topic from celebrity interviews to marriage, child rearing, politics and even volunteering. Both Rankin and Deakins masterfully lay out the humor, angst, simmering anger and stunned revelations of these characters — well worth hearing. Grade: A-minus