Friday, January 14, 2011

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Source: (mp3 or m4a)
Length: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Reader: Alan Davis Drake

The story: This story, made famous by the movie starring Brad Pitt, follows the life of Benjamin Button, a man who for unknown reasons, lives his life in reverse. Benjamin is born as an old man and then, as time passes, becomes younger and younger. Fitzgerald skirts the practical questions of how or why Benjamin grows younger with time and instead focuses on the character.

The power of speculative fiction (a catchall term for fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, and any fiction that departs from reality) is that it allows us to see what could be in order to better understand what is. In this story, Benjamin's condition causes misunderstandings, both hilarious and tragic, that highlight how his apparent age affects both how people treat him and his own desires and needs. Even though Benjamin's actual situation is nothing I could remotely relate to, I could understand him because I myself have felt the frustration of viewing myself as younger than I actually am or conversely being young and wanting to be seen as mature.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: If you've been following this blog, you've already read my high opinion of Alan Davis Drake. His interpretations of this work of literature makes clear both the humor and sadness of Benjamin's life. He gives his characters distinct and appropriate voices that fill out their written descriptions and make them more three-dimensional. There are other recordings of this story, many of them quite good, but this one, I think, is my favorite.

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