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I’ve been reading Richard Ford lately

… if listening to the audio books (The Sporstwriter and Independence Day so far) counts as reading. (Does it? In the grand Reading Olympics of life, does listening to the book count the same as “reading” the book? Can I say, “I’ve been reading Richard Ford lately” if I’ve actually only been listening to Richard Ford being read?) Anyway, you Percy fans may recall Mr. Ford from his (and his Mississippi drawl’s) prominence in the Walker Percy documentary. Ford is like a Percy that never quite grabbed aholt of faith and The Sportswriter is like The Moviegoer without Kierkegaard or Catholicism — but with something fundamental and bemused and piercing and good all the same.


  1. Pretty good BOT. I wonder if the third one is good. I guess he has another novel called Canada.

  2. I would definitely put audio tapes in the middle category between moviegoing and reading – but closer to reading becasue it’s words, words, words, not images, images, images.

    Backing up and moving forward, cross referencing and intertextual comparisons are a lot easier in reading than in listening, too – which is perhaps why kindles die a thousand deaths but the codex but once…


  3. Audio books are the bastard stepchildren of books.

  4. If you are looking for audio entertainment with a serious side I recommend the Odd Thomas audiobooks. The reader is fantastic.

    It is bettr to listen to them in order. I promise you will not be disappointed.

  5. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    It was none other than DarwinCatholic who started me on the audiobook habit — probably with this post:

    I really appreciate being spared the additional eye-strain after a day reading computer screens and books at the office, and it’s good to have the option to ‘read’ while commuting, cooking, or doing chores. Reading Olympics or no, audiobooks are how I took in The Moviegoer, A Confederacy of Dunces, Pride and Prejudice, Never Let Me Go, Beasts and Super-Beasts, A Handful of Dust, Brideshead Revisited, Crime and Punishment, The Pale King, some of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Loitering with Intent, The Man in the High Castle, The Quiet American, The Comedians, The Heart of the Matter, Brighton Rock, a few more pieces of fiction, and a goodly pile of nonfiction, too. Maybe it’s reading, maybe it’s not, but it has at least given me contact with perhaps 2/3 to 3/4 more text than I would have time and ocular stamina to read. ‘Godsend’ may not be too strong a word.

    (By the bye, a coreligionist of ours named Maureen has some good recordings of her readings of public-domain audiobooks available free here: )

    Does Ford’s novel of Independence Day include the scene where dead Brent Spiner gets slammed against the glass and the alien manipulates his vocal cords to taunt the humans? That was great.

    • That scene was added by the producers to liven things up. In fact, the whole alien invasion thing was added and the New Jersey real estate thing was excised. There were women and men in it though.

  6. Before the written word, oral tradition was all we had. And we lost something with words (I know, heresy here, but its true). I think audio books are an interesting experiment, and always an interpretation upon a work…so maybe not reading but the audiobooks are worthwhile in themselves.

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