I decided to listen to the new Louis Sachar book, THE CARD TURNER (Listening Library/Books on Tape, 2010). I was surprised to discover it was read by the author since this is seldom done in the audiobook business. As it turns out, Sachar was a perfect choice for the narration since his pacing and delivery emphasized some of the underlying emotion and tone and mood of this unusual story.
Alton has been coached all of his life to cozy up to his wealthy Uncle Lester so that the family will be remembered in his will. When Uncle Lester needs Alton to help him play bridge (Lester is blind and needs a card turner), Alton has no choice but to agree. Alton knows nothing about contract bridge, but he soon learns to appreciate the skill and knowledge his uncle possesses. Add into this mix family gossip, romance, back stabbing friends, a road trip, and bridge lessons and you have what is quintessentially Sachar: zany, eccentric characters, an almost but not quite implausible plot, and hilarity. Sachar's narration captures Alton and the other characters perfectly though it is largely an unvoiced narrative performance. It is the rather slow and droll voice that will draw "readers" in with their ears. Add in the lovely touch of a foghorn warning readers when Alton is about to launch into some complex description of something relating to the world of bridge, and you have a wonderful way to pass time in the car (my favorite place to listen).
What will kids make of the bridge portions of the story and audio? Hard to tell. I enjoyed revisiting that world. While I was never more than a casual player, it was fun to listen and try to play the hands correctly as Alton makes his observations. <389>