Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ear reading is slower than eye reading

So, I did some power listening to Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam this week. Six disks in six days. (That's a good clip for me, and it's one I'd like to keep up.) My book discussion group had it on its list this time, so I couldn't wait for Listening Library to send me one -- I checked out a circulating copy [gasp!].

I liked this story, but found it almost unbearable to listen to -- I had massive anxiety nearly every minute. It kept me up at night and made me restless listening to it. I'm sure it was all related to that dog, truly the best dog in Vietnam (pretty much anywhere I'd venture to say), Cracker. Her depression, her constant peril, and finally, her devastating separation from her human, Rick, were riveting -- yet horrible -- stuff. I really wanted to read this, so I could have spent three hours agonizing over her, instead of six.

Spoiler: Cracker survives the war and goes to live with Rick. Unfortunately, just 200 of the 4,000 odd dogs that served in Vietnam did return to the United States. They were military equipment -- left behind like everything else. When I got a chance to look at the book, there are photographs at the end; I found them terribly sad.

Such a sentimental pet lover I am.

Regardless of the anxiety of listening, this book's narrator wasn't very good. She read Kadohata's Weedflower last year, and I didn't like her then. She doesn't read with any feeling. There was no difference between her narration as Rick and as Cracker. She has the most annoying sibilance, actually painful to listen to. Why oh why didn't Listening Library go with two narrators? Maybe I'll ask them.

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