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By J.Means on 01-06-14
A weak reader hampers the work of a legend
What did you like best about The Maples Stories? What did you like least?
The performance drags down the stories here. Updike is a master of prose and characters, but Van Norden's reading has numerous problems: Pacing (he's too fast, never dynamic); Accents (I'm from the North Shore of Boston, where the Maples live, and his attempt at the middle class accent of minor characters is cringe-worthy); Consistency (often you can hear when there's a re-recorded section spliced in, because his timbre and tone are noticeably different in such moments). Overall, Van Norden's flaws are too distracting and I plan to avoid his other work.
Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Peter Van Norden?
Updike himself had a musical, lilting tenor voice, which he used to great effect in reading his own works publicly and in some recorded poems. For upcoming recordings of Updike's work, I suggest a similarly-voice, dynamic reader who can handle regional and class accents.
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