cover image THIS ROCK


Robert Morgan, Author, Rosemary Alexander, Read by, Robert Clotworthy, R

This coming-of-age tale is rather like a Cain and Abel saga, set in the Carolinas in the early '20s. Ginny, a widow, raises her children on prayer and homily. Moody, her older son, is a lazy, cynical bad boy who grows into a whoring, alcoholic bootlegger. His brother, Muir, in contrast, is self-flagellating and guilt-ridden. He bumps his way down life's river, but his faith always seems to lead him to salvation. Morgan, author of last year's Gap Creek (an Oprah selection), fleshes out this family's story in a predictable but satisfying manner. While his tale develops with mounting drama, the production of this version does not do it justice. Alexander has the difficult job of reading the passive mother's dialogue; she often sounds like she's on tranquilizers. And Clotworthy tries hard for feeling, but gets bogged down in reading long, overly detailed descriptions with little connection to the narrative. Thus, the audio version disappoints, depriving listeners of the best of Morgan's sensitive work. Based on the Algonquin Books hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 27). (Oct.)