Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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November 2004

Listen Up!

You'll be all ears with these three audio books

Audio books were once thought of as a poor substitute for real books, bought mainly by the visually impaired or senior citizens. Today, the audio-book market is booming. A recent study by the Munich-based Hörverlag—Germany’s leading publishing house specializing in audio products—revealed that there are a growing number of busy people in the 25-40 age group who are fans of audio books. AFTER THE PLAGUE*** By T. C. Boyle digital publishing, 2004 Munich-based company digital publishing produces interactive audio books as language aids for non-native speakers. The audio CDs come with a book containing the original text and a helpful glossary, and a CD-Rom. After the Plague, a collection of short stories written by critically acclaimed author T. C. Boyle, was first published by Bloomsbury in 2002. This CD contains two of those stories, “Friendly Skies” and “After the Plague.” The drawback of audio books is that if you do not take to the voice of the narrator, it is unlikely that you will persevere with the story, no matter how good it is. In this case the narrator has a clipped, well-enunciated voice, which is initially fairly grating. However, as the story develops and you get accustomed to the voice, it actually lends itself very well to the text. T. C. Boyle’s stories are well crafted and meticulous in their descriptions. The subject matter is quirky, particularly in the haunting tale “After the Plague.” Digital publishing has recorded some of the best modern short stories, including titles by Helen Fielding and Paul Auster, so the audio books are not only recommended as a learning exercise for people wishing to improve their English, but can also be enjoyed by native speakers. LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN**** By Kim Märkl Zimmermann, 2004 Described as a musical story for people of eight years and older, this audio book is unique in the way it intermingles text and music. The enchanting story is based on the true experience of Albrecht Riehle, now a cellist in the Bavarian Radio Orchestra. As a young man, carrying nothing more than a backpack and his cello, Riehle traveled to Lapland to live in an isolated, primitive cabin, where he perfected his playing. The story illustrates a musical discovery and an adventure into the wilderness and rugged beauty of Lapland. Wen-Sinn Yang, the principal cellist of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, plays the solo cello and the singer is Claudia Schneider. The story can be heard in English or German and can be bought as a CD or illustrated book. David Ingram, a Brit living in Augsburg, narrates the English version in soothing tones. Thanks to the complex and beautiful music, the CD can be recommended for people of all ages, not only children. MY LIFE*** By Bill Clinton Random House Audio, 2004 The schmaltzy piano music that serves as an introduction does not bode well for the CD. But as soon as former US president Bill Clinton begins the anecdote-packed narration in his instantly recognizable Southern drawl, the listener is captivated. Having the story read by the author is a definite advantage, as it sounds totally natural—at times the listener can detect genuine regret and pain in Clinton’s voice, or can hear a smile spreading across his face as he reads. Clinton creates a beautiful sense of atmosphere when describing his childhood. He also offers an energetic portrait of American history and pop culture, looking at the changing political landscape and historical events that shaped his early years. Clinton goes on to outline the history behind his greatest successes and failures, both as a family man and public figure. While My Life is a fascinating political memoir—it contains accounts of the way the presidency actually works—Clinton covers subjects in minute detail, which is probably too much information for the layperson. Six-and-a-half hours of material are contained in this six-CD set, and Clinton’s fast read-ing pace enables him to pack in a lot. As an audio book My Life is not one that can be listened to while doing other things, as it demands concentration. Despite some flaws the book is successful in offering a candid portrait of the former president. And as for the question on the tip of everyone’s lips—yes, he does disclose painfully honest details of his relationship with Miss Lewinsky. Overall, Clinton comes across as honest, human and likeable, and this book seems to serve as an exercise in helping him come to terms with his mistakes. TIP! Words’Worth Booksellers at Schellingstr. 21a have an excellent selection of English-language literature, including modern and classic audio books. For more information call (089) 280 91 41 or e-mail

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