cover image Mark Twain: A Life

Mark Twain: A Life

Ron Powers, , read by the author. . Simon and Schuster Audio, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7435-4706-2

Many readers of Powers's biography of Mark Twain noted the historian's remarkable sensitivity to the use of rhetoric, dialect and drama in Twain's work. As the audio's narrator, Powers proves he intuitively understands Twain's flair for language and drama because he possesses those gifts himself. Few authors could pull off a credible oral rendition of Twain's life, yet Powers manages it with humor and pathos. His voice is accessible, with a gravelly, down-home feel that fits the subject perfectly. His rendering of Twain's famous Missouri drawl never descends into caricature, and he obviously has a wonderful time imagining how Twain might have imitated other people's voices. Powers has a well-honed sense of humor, and listeners can almost see the twinkle in his eye as he recounts Twain's more acerbic observations. Gentle guitar and banjo music provide appropriately folksy interludes between sections of the book. The enhanced CD features Thomas Edison's three-minute silent film of Mark Twain, which is the only known footage of the white-suited satirist. Even in old age, his famous swaggering gait is on full display. Simultaneous release with the Free Press hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 1). (Sept.)