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The A-List Collection

 

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Being There

Audie Award Nominee, Best Solo Narration, 2013

Jerzy Kosinski’s clever parable of a naive man thrust into the modern world is more pointed now than ever. Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, The Graduate), perhaps best known for his portrayals of vulnerable characters and antiheroes, gives an understated and exemplary performance of this satiric look at the unreality of American media culture.

Chance, the enigmatic gardener, becomes Chauncey Gardiner after getting hit by a limo belonging to a Wall Street tycoon. The whirlwind that follows brings Chance to his new status of political policy advisor and possible vice presidential candidate. His garden-variety political responses, inspired by television, become heralded as visionary, and he is soon a media icon due to his unknown background and vague, yet appealing, conversational nature. Being There was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, starring Peter Sellers as Chance, in 1979.

©1971 Jerzy Kosinski (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf’s arresting analysis of domestic family life, centering on the Ramseys and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early 1900s. Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut), who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Woolf in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, brings the impressionistic prose of this classic to vibrant life.

Split into three parts, the story observes Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Ramsey, and their children at their vacation house on the Isle of Skye. While the novel follows seemingly trivial events between the family members, the plot takes a backseat to philosophical introspection, which gave the novel its fame as an icon of modernist literature. The Ramseys’ quest to recapture meaning creates a powerful allegory of man’s impermanent battle with the tangible world.

©1927 Virginia Woolf (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The End of the Affair

Audie Award Winner, Audiobook of the Year, 2013

Audie Award Nominee, Best Solo Narration, 2013

Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house. Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, A Single Man) turns in an authentic and stirring performance for this distinguished audio release.

The End of the Affair, set in London during and just after World War II, is the story of a flourishing love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. After a violent episode at Maurice’s apartment, Sarah suddenly and without explanation breaks off the affair. This very intimate story about what actually constitutes love is enhanced by Mr. Firth’s narration, who said “this book struck me very, very particularly at the time when I read it and I thought my familiarity with it would give the journey a personal slant.”

“I’m grateful for this honor,” Firth said when this production was recognized by the Audie Awards as Audiobook of the Year for 2013, “and grateful for the opportunity to narrate one of my favorite stories. A great novel told in the first person makes for the best script an actor could imagine. None better than The End of the Affair…. Theater and film each offer their own challenges and rewards, but narration is a new practice for me and the audiobook performance provides exhilarating possibilities for both actors and listeners. I’m thrilled to be involved in bringing this remarkable work of fiction to a wider audience, and thankful to Audible for offering me the opportunity to perform it and to engage with so many who share my passion for storytelling.”

©1951 Graham Greene (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Sheltering Sky

The Sheltering Sky is a landmark of 20th-century literature, a novel of existential despair that examines the limits of humanity when it touches the unfathomable emptiness of the desert. Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream) gives masterful voice to this American classic.

This fascinating story follows three American travelers, a married couple and their friend, as they find themselves adrift in the cities and deserts of North Africa after World War II. Along the walkabout, their ignorance of the dangers that surround them peels back the veneer of their lives. The author’s life as an expatriate in the North African nation of Morocco informed his rendering of the desert, which itself is a cruel, unforgiving character in the novel.

“Paul Bowles’ writing is so extraordinary, so special,” Ms. Connelly said. “The landscapes are magical, the characters are questioning so much – it’s haunting in a very beautiful way.”

©1949 Paul Bowles (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Audie Award Nominee, Solo Narration – Female, 2013

One of the best-known stories in American culture, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for over 100 years. Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Alice In Wonderland), fresh from filming one of this year’s most anticipated films, The Dark Knight Rises, lends her voice to this uniquely American fairy tale.

Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto as they get swept away into the magical land of Oz , where they encounter characters and places you may remember from the movie – and several more that never made it to the big screen – on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City.

“It’s such a wonderful book and I was so happy to be a part of bringing it to life”, Ms. Hathaway said. “There are a lot of great voices in it. The more fun you have with it, the sillier and the more free you get with it, the better it is because it’s a story that can handle it. It’s amazing to be able to discover something new about something you feel you know so well.”

Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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A Rage in Harlem: A Grave Digger & Coffin Ed Novel

Audie Award Nominee, Fiction, 2013

Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Star Wars films), fresh off the success of his uproarious, Audie-nominated performance of the mock children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep, delivers a swaggering, darkly-humored rendering of Chester Himes’ classic first novel.

Himes, described by The Sunday Times as “the greatest find in American crime fiction since Raymond Chandler”, was no stranger to the world of crime: in his late teens and early 20s, he served 7 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery, the confession to which was beaten out of him by the police. He delivers the tale of his hopelessly naïve hero suddenly finding himself on the run from a hypocritical and far-from-heroic police force with lurid violence and brutal humor. There is no voice better than Mr. Jackson’s to narrate this hardboiled story of love and crime, set in a richly imagined, mid-20th century Harlem.

©1957 Chester Himes (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Member of the Wedding

The best way to experience this classic of the American South is by joining five-time Academy Award nominee and Best Actress winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, Thelma & Louise) as she guides the listener on a journey through the anguish of adolescence and isolation.

“Rarely has emotional turbulence been so delicately conveyed,” said The New York Times of Carson McCullers’ sensitive portrayal of Frankie Addams, a disconnected 12-year-old whose only friends are her family’s maid and a six-year-old cousin. Desperate to be part of something big, she takes an overlarge interest in her brother’s wedding and dreams of following the couple on their honeymoon to the Alaskan wilderness. But as Frankie crosses into adulthood, she experiences the fantasy-shattering disillusionment that must come with it. This is a story for anybody who’s ever felt like an outsider and a natural fit for Ms. Sarandon, a master at creating authentic, sympathetic characters.

©1946 Carson McCullers (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Thérèse Raquin

Once upon a time, a teenaged Kate Winslet (The Reader, Titanic, Revolutionary Road) received a gift that would leave a lasting impression: a copy of Emile Zola’s classic Thérèse Raquin. Six Academy Award nominations and one Best Actress award later, she steps behind the microphone to perform this haunting classic of passion and disaster.

Thérèse Raquin is the story of a young woman forced into an unhappy marriage to her dull, sickly cousin and smothered by her overbearing aunt. When her husband’s childhood friend enters her life, it leads to a torrid affair that sets her spirit free for the first time, but with shattering consequences. Steeped in the atmosphere of 19th-century France and with a darkly rich foreboding, it is a story that brings out the best of its narrator’s incomparable talents.

“It is challenging, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun as well,” said Ms. Winslet of the recording experience. “As a listener, being able to tune out and be taken into another world, an atmosphere, an environment that is being created entirely for you by somebody else’s voice is really a wonderful, magical thing.”

Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway, perhaps Virginia Woolf’s greatest novel, follows English socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party in post-World War I London. Four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening (American Beauty, The Kids Are All Right) performs Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness style of storytelling brilliantly, exploring the hidden springs of thought and action in one day of a woman’s life.

When we first meet Clarissa Dalloway, she is preoccupied with the last-minute minutiae of party-planning while being flooded with memories of long ago. Clarissa then examines the realities of the present as the story travels forwards and back in time and in and out of different characters’ minds.

Mrs. Dalloway is daring not only in its stream-of-consciousness form, but also in its content. Woolf’s depiction of Septimus Warren Smith brings to light the ugly and often ignored truth of how the brutality of war can drive men mad. We also get to see in depth how our main protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway, suffers from her own form of psychological damage: the more subtle, everyday oppression of English society.

©1925 The Estate of Virginia Woolf (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs

In Pack of Two, the author of the acclaimed best seller Drinking: A Love Story tackles a different sort of relationship. Two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) guides us into the life of Caroline Knapp who, after losing both parents to cancer and breaking off a two-decade long relationship with alcohol in the span of one year, struggles – and succeeds – to redefine her world.

The unlikely solution to Knapp’s task was found in the form of a dog named Lucille. After 18 months of sobriety, she brought home an eight-week old puppy from a local animal shelter, a puppy that became a central force in her life. Knapp brings her fresh insight into emotional and psychological issues to the complicated terrain of human-animal relationships. Along with mining her own experience with Lucille, Knapp speaks to a variety of dog people – from owners to professionals – about this profoundly healing alliance.

©1998 Caroline Knapp (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Awakening

  • Written by: Kate Chopin
  • Narrated by: Kim Basinger
  • Length: 5 hrs and 38 mins
  • Audible Ratings: 3.00 (183 ratings)

Kate Chopin’s novel, a landmark work of early feminism, is seen as a pre-cursor to the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The upper-class Creole society of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century is brought to audio in a stirring performance by Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger.

Edna Pontellier, vacationing for the summer with her family on Grand Isle, has a great desire to find and live fully within her true self. However, her struggle to reconcile her unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South brings the story to a tragic conclusion. The Awakening’s blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity is the first in a tradition that would culminate in the modern masterpieces of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Handmaid's Tale

Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

©1985 Margaret Atwood (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Human Comedy

  • Written by: William Saroyan
  • Narrated by: Meg Ryan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
  • Audible Ratings: 4.10 (51 ratings)

The story of The Human Comedy, poignant and richly autobiographical, is based both on author Saroyan’s fatherless life and the Greek classic Homer’s Odyssey. Beloved actress Meg Ryan shows us the boy becoming the man in a world that, even in the midst of war, appears sweeter, safer, and more livable than our own.

In World War II-era California, Homer Macauley and his mother, sister, and three brothers live out struggles and dreams that reflect those of America’s second-generation immigrants. Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

©1943 William Saroyan (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem

  • Written by: Joan Didion
  • Narrated by: Diane Keaton
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Audible Ratings: 3.90 (132 ratings)

Audie Award Nominee, Short Stories/Collections, 2013

Universally acclaimed from the time it was first published in 1968, Slouching Towards Bethlehem has been admired for decades as a stylistic masterpiece. Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, The Family Stone) performs these classic essays, including the title piece, which will transport the listener back to a unique time and place: the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the neighborhood’s heyday as a countercultural center.

This is Joan Didion’s first work of nonfiction, offering an incisive look at the mood of 1960s America and providing an essential portrait of the Californian counterculture. She explores the influences of John Wayne and Howard Hughes, and offers ruminations on the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room. Taking its title from W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming”, the essays inSlouching Towards Bethlehem all reflect, in one way or another, that “the center cannot hold.”

©1968 Joan Didion (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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