cover image Mr. Toppit

Mr. Toppit

Charles Elton, read by Simon Vance, Blackstone Audio, unabridged, eight CDs, 10.5 hrs., $32.95 ISBN 978-1-4417-5960-3

After British author Arthur Hayman dies unexpectedly, his children's book series becomes an equally unexpected success, and it's up to his son, Luke, the inspiration for the book's hero, to grow up in the public eye while struggling to keep his family together. Elton's dark comedy is superbly written but finds poor expression in Simon Vance's reading. Vance's overly resonant, excessively vibrant voice for the book feels false and affected, and his narration is prone to a few tics—notably hurtling through the beginnings of sentences, stopping for an instant on a final word or two, before attacking the next sentence in the same way. Elton's book possesses such inherent drama, witty dialogue, and complicated and conflicted characters, it's a pity that the listener can scarcely get beyond the reader's hammy styling and breakneck pace. An Other Press hardcover. (Nov.)