Wayfaring Stranger - Audiobook
To read James Lee Burke on the printed page is to immerse yourself in some of the finest contemporary American literature of the past 30 years. To listen to renowned narrator Will Patton breathe life into that sumptuous prose is to ignite it with incandescent light.
Patton’s genteel Carolina cadence soothes us with loving grace as Burke delivers moving passages between protagonist Weldon Avery Holland and his beloved wife, Rosita Lowenstein, whom he rescued from a Nazi death camp during World War II. We also hear the rasps in the punitive voice of his grandfather as he berates Weldon for his teenaged inadequacies on the family farm. Holland encounters the slick Clyde Barrow and the feisty Bonnie Parker, each recreated by Patton with a combination of menace and charm as they camp in the family’s woods following one of their daring raids. This chance meeting will influence Weldon throughout a tumultuous life that spans historic eras from the Great Depression through World War II to the Texas Oil Boom, the sleaziness of the early Hollywood years and postwar economic boom.
"Patton’s breathtaking portrayal of any of Burke’s memorable characters will keep you glued to the wheel of your car, help you escape the mind-numbing monotony of today’s air travel, or simply assist you in getting through a long, hot summer."
The story is heavily populated by treacherous men and conniving women. These Southern characters, who are Burke’s trademark villains and heroes, are all vividly portrayed by Patton’s unique ability to bring emotion to the written word that, along with Burke’s descriptive genius, amplifies those images in the listener’s mind. Nowhere better than through Burke’s words and Patton’s delivery can you see, smell, hear, taste and feel the sensual evocation of time and place.
Patton, a prominent actor of stage, screen and television, is no doubt a colossal “get” for any author and publisher seeking a primo talent to produce an audio recording of their work. He has recently brought life to the words of Ernest Hemingway (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT), Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, Don DeLillo, Larry McMurtry, Charles Frazier, and 13 of Burke’s Dave Robicheaux and Billy Bob Holland detective novels, just for starters. Patton says of the act of making an audiobook, “Recording an audiobook is very intense. It’s just you and the microphone, and your voice. It’s naked.”
Burke’s overriding theme of good versus evil, cultural warfare, and the glory and heartbreak of the great American Dream are epitomized in WAYFARING STRANGER. Patton’s breathtaking portrayal of any of Burke’s memorable characters will keep you glued to the wheel of your car, help you escape the mind-numbing monotony of today’s air travel, or simply assist you in getting through a long, hot summer.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on July 25, 2014