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The Best Audiobooks of 2016

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  1. 18.2 hrs • 12/6/2016 • Unabridged

    “Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.” —Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began. Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized. Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll. Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs—“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the USA,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few—Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

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    Born to Run

    18.2 hrs • 12/6/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 10.2 hrs • 11/30/2016 • Unabridged

    On March 29, 1516, the city council of Venice issued a decree forcing Jews to live in il geto―a closed quarter named for the copper foundry that once occupied the area. The term stuck. In this sweeping and original interpretation, Mitchell Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the sixteenth century and its revival by the Nazis to the present. As Duneier shows, we cannot understand the entanglements of race, poverty, and place in America today without recalling the history of the ghetto in Europe, as well as later efforts to understand the problems of the American city. This is the story of the scholars and activists who tried to achieve that understanding. Their efforts to wrestle with race and poverty in their times cannot be divorced from their individual biographies, which often included direct encounters with prejudice and discrimination in the academy and elsewhere. Using new and forgotten sources, Duneier introduces us to Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake, graduate students whose conception of the South Side of Chicago established a new paradigm for thinking about Northern racism and poverty in the 1940s. We learn how the psychologist Kenneth Clark subsequently linked Harlem’s slum conditions with the persistence of black powerlessness in the civil-rights era, and we follow the controversy over Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s report on the black family. We see how the sociologist William Julius Wilson redefined the debate about urban America as middle-class African Americans increasingly escaped the ghetto and the country retreated from racially specific remedies. And we trace the education reformer Geoffrey Canada’s efforts to transform the lives of inner-city children with ambitious interventions, even as other reformers sought to help families escape their neighborhoods altogether. Ghetto offers a clear-eyed assessment of the thinkers and doers who have shaped American ideas about urban poverty and the ghetto. The result is a valuable new understanding of an age-old concept.

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    Ghetto by Mitchell Duneier

    Ghetto

    10.2 hrs • 11/30/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    7.8 hrs • 11/29/2016 • Unabridged

    For all fans of John Hughes and his hit films such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, and Home Alone, comes Jason Diamond’s hilarious memoir of growing up obsessed with the iconic filmmaker’s movies—a preoccupation that eventually convinces Diamond he should write Hughes’ biography and travel to New York City on a quest that is as funny as it is hopeless. For as long as Jason Diamond can remember, he’s been infatuated with John Hughes’ movies. From the outrageous, raunchy antics in National Lampoon’s Vacation to the teenage angst in The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink to the insanely clever and unforgettable Home Alone, Jason could not get enough of Hughes’ films. And so the seed was planted in his mind that it should fall to him to write a biography of his favorite filmmaker. It didn’t matter to Jason that he had no qualifications, training, background, platform, or direction. Thus went the years-long, delusional, earnest, and assiduous quest to reach his goal. But no book came out of these years, and no book will. What he did get was a story that fills the pages of this unconventional, hilarious memoir. In Searching for John Hughes, Jason tells how a Jewish kid from a broken home in a Chicago suburb—sometimes homeless, always restless—found comfort and connection in the likewise broken lives in the suburban Chicago of John Hughes’ oeuvre. He moved to New York to become a writer. He started to write a book he had no business writing. In the meantime, he brewed coffee and guarded cupcake cafes. All the while, he watched John Hughes movies religiously.Though his original biography of Hughes has long since been abandoned, Jason has discovered he is a writer through and through. And the adversity of going for broke has now been transformed into wisdom. Or, at least, a really, really good story. In other words, this is a memoir of growing up. One part big dream, one part big failure, one part John Hughes movies, one part Chicago, and one part New York. It’s a story of what comes after the “Go for it!” part of the command to young creatives to pursue their dreams—no matter how absurd they might seem at first.

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    Searching for John Hughes by Jason Diamond

    Searching for John Hughes

    7.8 hrs • 11/29/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 24.5 hrs • 11/29/2016 • Unabridged

    From the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name—an Oscar nominee—the definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight. Intimately reported, this is the story of the men and women who, watching their friends and lovers fall, ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large, and confronted with shame and hatred, chose to fight for their right to live. We witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT, and the gradual movement toward a lifesaving medical breakthrough. With his unparalleled access to this community David France illuminates the lives of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader-turned-activist; the high school dropout who found purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York; the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers’ club at the height of the epidemic; and the public relations executive fighting to save his own life for the sake of his young daughter. Expansive yet richly detailed, this is an insider’s account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights.

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    How to Survive a Plague

    24.5 hrs • 11/29/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 14.7 hrs • 11/22/2016 • Unabridged

    In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother’s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis of the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain in the ongoing magic act that is the art of Michael Chabon. Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire, and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies. A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century, Moonglow is also a tour de force of speculative history in which Chabon attempts to reconstruct the mysterious origins and fate of Chabon Scientific, Co., an authentic mail-order novelty company whose ads for scale models of human skeletons, combustion engines, and space rockets were once a fixture in the back pages of Esquire, Popular Mechanics and Boy’s Life. Along the way Chabon devises and reveals, in bits and pieces whose hallucinatory intensity is matched only by their comic vigor and the radiant moonglow of his prose, a secret history of his own imagination. From the Jewish slums of prewar South Philadelphia to the invasion of Germany, from a Florida retirement village to the penal utopia of New York’s Wallkill Prison, from the heyday of the space program to the twilight of “the American Century,” Moonglow collapses an era into a single life and a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most daring, his most moving, his most Chabonesque.

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    Moonglow

    14.7 hrs • 11/22/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 13.8 hrs • 11/15/2016 • Unabridged

    An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North-West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

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    Swing Time

    13.8 hrs • 11/15/16 • Unabridged
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    6.0 hrs • 11/15/2016 • Unabridged

    A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by the Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect. “I’m excited to publish my first book, and because I get uncomfortable when people have high expectations, I’d like to use this opportunity to showcase my ineptitude, pettiness, and the frequency with which I embarrass myself. And while many of my female inspirations who have become authors are incredibly well-educated and accomplished comedy writers, I’m very, very funny on Twitter, according to Buzzfeed and my mom, so I feel like this is a great idea. Quick question: are run-on sentences still frowned upon? Wait, is ending a sentence with a preposition still frowned upon? I mean, upon frowned? Dammit!” —Anna Kendrick Anna Kendrick’s autobiographical collection of essays amusingly recounts memorable moments throughout her life, from her middle class upbringing in New England to the blockbuster movies that have made her one of Hollywood’s most popular actresses today. Expanding upon the witty and ironic dispatches for which she is known, Anna Kendrick’s essays offer her one-of-a-kind commentary on the absurdities she’s experienced on her way to and from the heart of pop culture.

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    Scrappy Little Nobody

    6.0 hrs • 11/15/16 • Unabridged
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  8. 9.0 hrs • 11/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Chizuru Akitani is the twelve-year-old daughter of the famous violinist and Japanese “Living National Treasure” Hiro Akitani. Overweight and hafu (her mother is white), she is tormented by her classmates and targeted by the most relentless bully of them all, Tomoya Yu. When Chizuru’s mother dies suddenly her father offers her no comfort and she is left feeling alone and unmoored. At school, her bully’s cruelty intensifies, and in a moment of blind rage, Chizuru grabs a Morimoto letter opener from her teacher’s desk and fatally stabs Tomoya Yu in the neck. For the next seven years, Chizuru is institutionalized. Her father visits her just twice before ultimately disowning her. Upon release, Chizuru flees Japan for a new identity and life in the United States. Determined to outrun her murderous past, she renames herself Rio, graduates from nursing school, marries a loving man, and soon has a daughter. But when a mysterious package arrives on her doorstep in Boulder, Colorado, announcing the death of her father, Rio feels compelled to return to Japan for the first time in twenty years, leaving her husband and her daughter confused and bereft. Going back to her homeland, and to the scene of her complicated past, feels like stepping into a strange and familiar dream. When she unexpectedly reconnects with Miss Danny, who had been her beloved teacher at the time of the stabbing, long-kept secrets are unearthed, forcing Rio to confront her past in ways she never imagined, and to decide if she will reveal to her family who she once was. Full of atmospheric and illuminating descriptions of Japan and its culture, Pull Me Under is an affecting exploration of home, identity, and the limits of forgiveness. Kelly Luce has written a bold and psychologically complex first novel that grips and dazzles from start to finish.

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    Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

    Pull Me Under

    9.0 hrs • 11/1/16 • Unabridged
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  9. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    13.8 hrs • 11/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Frantumaglia invites listeners into Elena Ferrante’s workshop. It offers a glimpse into the drawers of her writing desk, those drawers from which emerged her three early stand-alone novels and the four installments of My Brilliant Friend, known in English as the Neapolitan Quartet. Consisting of over twenty years of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, it is a unique depiction of an author who embodies a consummate passion for writing. In these pages, Ferrante answers many of her readers’ questions. She addresses her choice to stand aside and let her books live autonomous lives. She discusses her thoughts and concerns as her novels are being adapted into films. She talks about the challenge of finding concise answers to interview questions. She explains the joys and the struggles of writing, the anguish of composing a story only to discover that that story isn’t good enough. She contemplates her relationship with psychoanalysis, with the cities she has lived in, with motherhood, with feminism, and with her childhood as a storehouse for memories, impressions, and fantasies. The result is a vibrant and intimate self-portrait of a writer at work.

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    Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante

    Frantumaglia

    Translated by Ann Goldstein
    13.8 hrs • 11/1/16 • Unabridged
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  10. 8.1 hrs • 11/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Be the first to listen to the dazzling new novel from Nicola Yoon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything. Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story. Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us. The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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    The Sun is Also a Star

    8.1 hrs • 11/1/16 • Unabridged
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  11. 8.5 hrs • 11/1/2016 • Unabridged

    From the New York Times bestselling author Alice Hoffman comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate. Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night. Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

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    Faithful

    8.5 hrs • 11/1/16 • Unabridged
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  12. 8.5 hrs • 11/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Two strangers arrive in a small Spanish fishing village. The older woman is suffering from mysterious paralysis, driven to seek a cure beyond the bounds of conventional medicine. Her daughter, Sofia, has spent years playing the reluctant detective in this mystery, struggling to understand her mother’s illness. Surrounded by the oppressive desert heat, searching for a cure to a defiant and quite possibly imagined disease, Sofia is forced to confront her difficult relationship with her mother. Examining female rage and sexuality, Deborah Levy explores the strange and monstrous nature of motherhood, testing the bonds of parent and child to a breaking point.

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    Hot Milk

    8.5 hrs • 11/1/16 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    20.9 hrs • 10/25/2016 • Unabridged

    A deep-dive into human behavior in an epic story of science, society, sex, and survival, from one of the greatest American novelists today, T. C. Boyle, the acclaimed, bestselling, author of the PEN/ Faulkner Award–winning World’s End and The Harder They Come. It is 1994, and in the desert near Tillman, Arizona, forty miles from Tucson, a grand experiment involving the future of humanity is underway. As climate change threatens the earth, eight scientists, four men and four women dubbed the “Terranauts,” have been selected to live under glass in E2, a prototype of a possible off-earth colony. Their sealed, three-acre compound comprises five biomes—rainforest, savanna, desert, ocean, and marsh—and enough wildlife, water, and vegetation to sustain them. Closely monitored by an all-seeing mission control, this new Eden is the brainchild of ecovisionary Jeremiah Reed, a.k.a. G. C.—“God the Creator”—for whom the project is both an adventure in scientific discovery and a momentous publicity stunt. In addition to their roles as medics, farmers, biologists, and survivalists, his young, strapping Terranauts must impress watchful visitors and a skeptical media curious to see if E2’s environment will somehow be compromised, forcing the Ecosphere’s seal to be broken—and ending the mission in failure. As the Terranauts face increased scrutiny and a host of disasters, both natural and of their own making, their mantra: “Nothing in, nothing out,” becomes a dangerously ferocious rallying cry. Told through three distinct narrators—Dawn Chapman, the mission’s pretty, young ecologist; Linda Ryu, her bitter, scheming best friend passed over for E2; and Ramsay Roothorp, E2’s sexually irrepressible wildman—The Terranauts brings to life an electrifying, pressured world in which connected lives are uncontrollably pushed to the breaking point. With characteristic humor and acerbic wit, T. C. Boyle indelibly inhabits the perspectives of the various players in this survivalist game, probing their motivations and illuminating their integrity and fragility to illustrate the inherent fallibility of human nature itself.

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    The Terranauts  by T. C. Boyle

    The Terranauts

    20.9 hrs • 10/25/16 • Unabridged
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  14. 10.9 hrs • 10/18/2016 • Unabridged

    The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a twenty-eight-year struggle to get them back. The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even “Ambassadors from Mars.” Back home, their mother never accepted that they were “gone” and spent 28 years trying to get them back. Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? Truevine is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.

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    Truevine

    10.9 hrs • 10/18/16 • Unabridged
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  15. 10.6 hrs • 10/18/2016 • Unabridged

    The author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude returns with a devilishly entertaining novel about an international backgammon hustler who thinks he’s psychic. Too bad about the tumor in his face. Handsome, impeccably tuxedoed Bruno Alexander travels the world winning large sums of money from amateur “whales” who think they can challenge his peerless acumen at backgammon. Fronted by his pasty, vampiric manager, Edgar Falk, Bruno arrives in Berlin after a troubling run of bad luck in Singapore. Perhaps it was the chance encounter with his crass childhood acquaintance Keith Stolarsky and his smoldering girlfriend Tira Harpaz. Or perhaps it was the emergence of a blot that distorts his vision so he has to look at the board sideways. Things don’t go much better in Berlin. Bruno’s flirtation with Madchen, the striking blonde he meets on the ferry, is inconclusive; the game at the unsettling Herr Kohler’s mansion goes awry as his blot grows worse; he passes out and is sent to the local hospital, where he is given an extremely depressing diagnosis. Having run through Falk’s money, Bruno turns to Stolarsky, who, for reasons of his own, agrees to fly Bruno to Berkeley, and to pay for the experimental surgery that might save his life. Berkeley, where Bruno discovered his psychic abilities, and to which he vowed never to return. Amidst the patchouli flashbacks and Anarchist gambits of the local scene, between Tira’s come-ons and Keith’s machinations, Bruno confronts two existential questions: Is the gambler being played by life? And what if you’re telepathic but it doesn’t do you any good?

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    A Gambler's Anatomy

    10.6 hrs • 10/18/16 • Unabridged
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  16. 9.3 hrs • 10/18/2016 • Unabridged

    The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author weaves an ingenious, darkly humorous, and brilliantly observant story that follows the exploits and intrigue of a constellation of characters affiliated with an off-off-off-off Broadway children’s musical. Mister Monkey—a screwball children’s musical about a playfully larcenous pet chimpanzee—is the kind of family favorite that survives far past its prime. Margot, who plays the chimp’s lawyer, knows the production is dreadful and bemoans the failure of her acting career. She’s settled into the drudgery of playing a humiliating part—until the day she receives a mysterious letter from an anonymous admirer—and later, in the middle of a performance, has a shocking encounter with Adam, the twelve-year-old who plays the title role. Francine Prose’s effervescent comedy is told from the viewpoints of wildly unreliable, seemingly disparate characters whose lives become deeply connected as the madcap narrative unfolds. There is Adam, whose looming adolescence informs his interpretation of his role; Edward, a young audience member who is candidly unimpressed with the play; Ray, the author of the novel on which the musical is based, who witnesses one of the most awkward first dates in literature; and even the eponymous Mister Monkey, the Monkey God himself. With her trademark wit and verve, Prose delves into humanity’s most profound mysteries: art, ambition, childhood, aging, and love. Startling and captivating, Mister Monkey is a breathtaking novel from a writer at the height of her craft.

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    Mister Monkey by Francine Prose

    Mister Monkey

    9.3 hrs • 10/18/16 • Unabridged
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