cover image The Pursuit of Happyness

The Pursuit of Happyness

Chris Gardner, with Quincy Troupe, read by Andre Blake. . HarperCollins Audio, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-089788-8

Gardner's inspiring rags-to-riches memoir of his transformation from homeless single father to philanthropic owner of a multimillion-dollar brokerage house somehow has less of an impact in audio than on paper. Blake has an excellent, manly voice, perfect intonation and excellent streetwise cursing abilities (a crucial part of Gardner's account of his relationship with his stepfather). Yet as good as the narrator is, by the third CD listeners may not be able to shake the feeling that he's an actor reading someone else's words. Since Gardner's love of jazz is a running theme, the evocative jazz trumpet music at the beginning and end of each CD is appropriate; even more between-tracks music might have been effective where the narrator's pauses are not long or dramatic enough (say, between one sentence where he is with his biological father in Louisiana and the next, at work in his brokerage office). This is a moving story whose audio version might have been better served with more dramatic devices. Simultaneous release with Amistad hardcover. (Reviews, Mar. 6) (June)