24 April 2008

What I'm listenning to (and reading)

    We take you now to Grovers Mill, New Jersey.
      The War of the Worlds
      by H. G. Wells
      as performed by
      Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air

I had been anticipating the new season of Radio Lab for months, and I am loving it now that it's here. An early standout is the War of the Worlds episode, which was performed live. I've heard the Orsen Wells story many times, but I had never heard what happened when a radio station in the Equadorian city of Quito decided to do their own production in 1949.

I'm also catching up on episodes of This American Life that have been accumulating on my iPod. The episode "Nice Work If You Can Get It" includes an excellent piece with John Hodgman telling the story of his rise to fame.

As for audiobooks, I've just finished the third in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I'm really starting to enjoy them. The first two were read by Tim Curry, but the rest are read by the author. Sometimes an author isn't the best person to read their own work, but in this case I think it's an improvement.

Also read well by the author is Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, his second short fiction collection. I expect people will have varying opinitons about each of the stories and poems, but I you'll find it hard to dislike "A Study in Emerald." If you don't have time to pick up the whole book, this story is available online here. In fact, if you've only listened to it, you should check out the PDF just for the illustrations and format.

Knowing little beforehand, I listened to Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton. If you've read Everything is Illuminated, you would be inclined to classify Groff as a female Jonathan Safran Foer. That's not really accurate, but comparisons are difficult to escape completely. I'm also pretty sure that if I'd read more James Fenimore Cooper, I would have caught several references and in-jokes in the book. That said, I enjoyed the story, especially the final chapters.

An actual book that I'm actually reading is Tolkein's The Children if Hurin. I've been reading a chapter here an there, and I'm almost done. The chapters stand somewhat on their own, being true chapters in the lives of the characters. Each chapter mostly resolves it's own smaller story arc, so it lends fairly well to this casual style of reading. It's certainly not a pager-turner, nor is is inteded to be. At the same time, I am reading the Lord of the Rings with my oldest. Every now and then I come accross a name from The Children if Hurin, which takes place thousands of years before LotR, so it is sort of like reading ancient history.

By the way, reading LotR again is great fun for me. I really look forward to each night when we read. Having read it so many times already, and reading it aloud, I am noticing many subtlies and tidbits I'd either missed or forgotten. It's nice to know you still find new things in even the most familiar old favorites.

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