MARK TWAIN'S LETTERS FROM HAWAII
Mark Twain, , read by McAvoy Layne. . AudioEditions, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-57270-428-2
Hearing Layne read Mark Twain's newspaper dispatches from Hawaii gives one the invigorating sense of visiting an exotic locale as well as a different era. Those who treat themselves to these blustery, spirited letters will experience a journey in every sense of the word. Before writing his first novel, the penniless journalist got a four-month-long gig writing about his travels in the "the loveliest fleet of islands that lie anchor in any ocean." Layne reads the letters as Twain might have, not backing down during parts that may sound questionable to modern ears (e.g., Twain's repeated congratulations to the missionaries for quashing native customs). In this thoughtfully abridged collection, one letter may rhapsodize about scenery while the next delves into death rituals for a native princess; the result is a listening experience that feels balanced, not overdone. Though few people other than lovers of Hawaii will likely tune in to these letters, those who do will never see their favorite vacation spot (or home) in quite the same way again. They will also receive a reminder of why Twain's legacy has endured.
Reviewed on: 01/03/2005