cover image Dancing in the Streets

Dancing in the Streets

Barbara Ehrenreich, , read by Pam Ward. . Blackstone Audio, $27.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7861-6245-1

Ehrenreich's social history of collective joy, ranging from pagan ritual to rock concerts, comes off as an extended, rambling lecture, taking in a varied array of subjects along the way. Taking the hint, Ward reads Ehrenreich's book with a touch of the lecturer's oratorical savvy, and some of that same figure's dry deliberation. Ehrenreich argues that communal ecstasy has been too often misunderstood as an excuse for booze-fueled sexual bacchanalias, ignoring its political and social components. Ward is neither overly joyous in her reading, owing too much to the nature of her material, nor overly serious, her voice tinged with the slightest hint of charmed pleasure at the prospect of declaiming on Ehrenreich's chosen subject. The unabridged audio is not overlong as audiobooks go, but there are moments where Ward's reading drags ever so slightly, pulled down by a sameness of approach that threatens to inspire the opposite of the ecstatic moments Ehrenreich's book describes. The solid quality of Ehrenreich's prose papers over the gaps and gives Ward's reading the pleasurable (if not quite monumentally joyous) sensation it possesses. Simultaneous release with the Metropolitan Books hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 6). (Feb.)