Tuesday, June 12, 2007

There's nothing wrong with ordinary ... but there's nothing select about it either

So, a friend of mine noted that my blog comments are now extending beyond the stated purview of audiobooks I have listened to ... it must be because I'm feeling more comfortable in the format, or something.

With that in mind, today I trekked to the far side of downtown (it was a long, hot walk!) to pick up my permit for the street closure I applied for (hooray!) and I finished up Hattie Big Sky on my way over. Jim Dale was telling me the importance of reading aloud to children as I entered the blessed air conditioning. It was not a good public service day: long line at the Post Office (one window open) and two slow-moving lines (one to pick up the permit, one to pay) at the City.

Hattie just never flew for me. I acknowledged to my colleagues that perhaps I wasn't the right listener (for all those reasons I mentioned in my last post), and encouraged someone else to lend an ear. I think -- here around the midway point of the listening year -- that I've been waiting to be truly wowed by an audio performance and these feel in short supply to me. I've nominated three (?) titles -- and listened to several others -- that have been good, but I've just not been absolutely sure about something I liked this year. Not like I was sure about Accidents of Nature, or Blood Red Horse, or Elsewhere, or The Witch's Boy from last year.

So all I can really say about Hattie is that she didn't take me to the levels that those other titles did. Sometimes things are just OK -- nothing's wrong with them, but they aren't standouts. They just don't belong on a "select" list. As this was the second go-round with Hattie I'm not really sure that she stands the test of time as a Newbery (Honor) title is supposed to. I knew what was going to happen, and so hearing her story again just felt tired. Shouldn't a Newbery be the kind of book you can read again and again? Well, it's not the first one I've questioned and I doubt it will be the last.

Despite the heat and the long lines, I'm glad that I took the listening opportunity to finish her up. She was wearing on me.

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