I'm such a cheater. I committed to judging 3 categories in the Armchair Audies project this year, and judge I will. But this category (LitFic) I'm judging with a bit of an asterisk, given that I didn't actually listen to all of the nominees. But! The discerning Jennifer at Literate Housewife also listened to almost all of them, and we've chatted about them and decided on a winner.
Here are the Audies Literary Fiction nominees:
So - the two I didn't touch were Eleanor Morse's White Dog Fell from the Sky and Stephen Kiernan's The Curiosity (neither of which Jennifer enjoyed enough to want to talk me into listening to them as serious contenders.)
Given that I can't argue otherwise, I suppose that I have to put Meryl Streep's reading of Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary in 4th place. I haven't mentioned it here before, but that's because thinking about it puts me to sleep; listening to it was a struggle to drive safely. I adore Streep as much as the next gal, but this was a dull dull audio, and felt way longer than the three CDs it took to hear.
Of the other three, I enjoyed the novel most but the audio least when it comes to Amy McFadden's reading of Jincy Willet's Amy Falls Down. The novel was funny and smart and wry but McFadden's voice was too young for the titular Amy.
Which leaves us with two Big Books of 2013 - both literally and in how they impacted the literary landscape.
My mom suggested that instead of listening to David Pittu's reading of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, I should have read it and I would have liked the Pulitzer Prize winner better. Of course, she hadn't gotten to the end of it herself when she said that. I will note that my post complaining about the novel - especially the ending - has gotten far more hits in the six months since I put it up than anything else in the history of this blog. And I've had tons of conversations on various sites regarding similar complaints. So. It's not just me, is what I'm saying. And Pittu does do a fine job with the material. He portrays the characters consistently and with energy (perhaps more energy than they earn in the text), although he give Boris a semi-Slavic accent that Tartt intended to be semi-Australian instead.
But the multi-cast (Will Patton, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Shepherd, and Clifton Collins, Jr.) reading of Philipp Meyer's The Son was definitely the best audio of this bunch. Although I also had some quibbles with this book, they were a lot more personal than universal. And the audio cast did a lot to keep me engaged with the text even when I was irritable about it. They were true to their characters, fluid, and indefatigable across the long length of the novel. It was a notably good listen, and well worth the nod among this particular batch of nominees. The Armchair Audies vote goes to The Son.