cover image BY SORROW'S RIVER


Larry McMurtry, , read by Alfred Molina. . Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7435-2788-0

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Fiction BY SORROW'S RIVER Larry McMurtry , read by Alfred Molina. Simon & Schuster Audio , unabridged, eight cassettes, 11.5 hrs., $39.95 ISBN 0-7435-2788-7

Molina keeps the bar raised high with his latest performance of McMurtry's third Berrybender Narrative. As with his readings of the previous two volumes, Sin Killer and The Wandering Hill , Molina creates richly nuanced voices for the many characters in this Wild West tale, from the energetic and innocent young guide Kit Carson to the comically selfish old Lord Berrybender, whose pursuit of drink, fornication and wildlife to shoot is what has brought his aristocratic, idiosyncratic and self-centered British clan to the wild and unforgiving Great Plains. This installment revolves around Berrybender's eldest daughter, Tasmin. Having married and mothered a child with the stoic and sometimes brutal frontiersman Jim Snow, also known as the Sin Killer, Tasmin's heart is now drawn to their quiet and emotionally distant guide, Pomp Charbonneau. Though the story seems to lose some of its steam as it explores the nuances of Tasmin's torn-between-two-lovers quandary, Molina's pace never slows. Even when he is not breathing life into a character, his role as narrator is played with such earnest urgency that it keeps the momentum high and the listener wanting more. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 25, 2003). (Nov.)