Source: Audiolingo.org MP3
Length: 49 min
Reader: Jay King
The story: You may have noticed that I typically pair a story with the same week's book on the basis of genre, theme, or time period. This week, the story and book have a rather tenuous connection: both feature a character named Junius who departs San Francisco for the Pastures of Heaven. "Junius Maltby" was published in the story collection The Pastures of Heaven and in some editions of The Red Pony.
In Steinbeck's story, Junius is a young man who leaves his accountant job to recover from illness in the idyllic-named valley of Pastures of Heaven, where he learns the joys of laziness. Junius would rather read Robert Louis Stevenson than work (it's too bad LibriVox hadn't been invented yet; Junius could've listened to Treasure Island or Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde while he hoed the fields). Steinbeck tells his story with his characteristic Californian style. The story has the simplicity of a fable at the beginning, but adds layers of complexity as it progresses. With some laugh-out loud moments, Steinbeck tells a story about happiness in individuality and society.
The reader: Mr. King reads this story with obvious love and familiarity. His delivery brings out Steinbeck's sense of humor, which is sometimes easy to overlook in print. King gives light voicing to the characters and narrates with a calm, masculine American accent. The recording has a bit of hiss and crackle, but is easily understandable.