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ISBN 0060992662 / 9780060992668 / 0-06-099266-2Find This Book
Listening to Lawrence Luckinbill read Annie Dillard's historical novel The Living takes a little getting used to. The very first sentence reveals a pronounced and distracting lisp, but don't let that dissuade you from continuing. Luckinbill's voice also exhibits a simple honesty, a gruffness that is perfectly suited to the steely pioneer spirit of Dillard's story. Surprisingly quickly, the vocal idiosyncrasy fades away, leaving only the emotional resonance of Luckenbill's obviously heartfelt connection to this powerful tale.
Dillard's finely crafted prose and Luckinbill's sincere voice carry you back to the early days of American expansion, into the truly Wild West and the stone-hard life these settlers would be forced to endure. "She had cried out to God all day and maybe all night, too, that he would lend her strength to bear affliction and go on. She was not aware that underneath she prayed another prayer as if to a power above God, or at least to his better nature, that he was finished with the worst of it." Of course, God isn't finished, and neither are these brave souls. Dillard opens their world slowly, stretching the horizon generation by generation, tethering the fate of one small family to that of the struggling town that they are helping to build and, ultimately, to the inexorable rise of the emerging nation. (Running time: six hours, four cassettes) --George Laney [via]