In every bestseller list, there's something missing: the undetected genius, the motherlode.
Here's our first in a series of "the best audiobooks you've never heard." —Great writing, bravura performances.
Check them out and tell us your next nomination!
His Own Where, by June Jordan
This is a Brooklyn heartbeat, a performance, a poem, a song.
Imagine you bought tickets to a one-woman show by Sapphire. She holds you in the palm of her hand and there is a standing ovation afterward. A stunning coming of age story by one of America's greatest poets and journalists, June Jordan.
“This June Jordan treasure is a rare piece of fiction from one of America's most vital poets and political essayists—a tender story of young love in the face of generational opposition, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet that sings and sways.”—Walter Mosley
Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry, by Clark Terry
Clark Terry is a natural raconteur. He's also one of the greatest jazz musicians and trumpeters who ever lived.
This is a man who takes joy in language— you can hear his pleasure in every turn of phrase. In his hands, the ages of Swing and Bebop come to life; every influential jazz musician is here, plus outrageous supporting characters.
The era-changing music is improvised, and good times are had, but at the same time the musicians confronted the Jim Crow South each day of their lives. Terry relates the contrast of being revered and reviled at the same time in a way you won't forget.
Bill Quinn does a bang-up job narrating. His admiration for Terry comes across in every line.
Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut, by Paul Krassner
Krassner is the Zelig of the Counter-Culture, and boy, can he tell a story. Paul was everywhere that mattered in counter-culture of the second half of the 20th century— and is a comedian par excellence.
Protégé of Lenny Bruce? Check. Co-founder of the Yippies and devout member of Kesey's Merry Pranksters? Of course. Krassner founded and edited The Realist, which is the foundation for every skeptical and comic, underground journal that followed it. —And where would abortion rights be without risk-takers like Paul? His involvement in early feminist and sexual liberation movement is unlike any other.
The opening childhood scene is spellbinding, ridiculous and transcendent: Krassner, a tiny young violin prodigy playing his debut at Carnegie Hall, realizes his existence— he wakes up— playing a Vivaldi concerto as his leg starts to itch and the audience cracks up at his vexation.
Confessions is brought alive by the performance of David Letwin. His timing and nuance are first-rate.
The Road to Ruins, by Ian Graham
I love this story; it's so incongrous. Ian Graham was raised to do nothing in particular except live the life of a wealthy playboy.
He starts out from his privileged boyhood, fascinated with machines of all types, with a grandmother who could intimidate Maggie Smith's Dowager-countess, and a touching correspondence with family friend Rudyard Kipling.
Ian idles his way through his twenties until he finds himself driving his ancient Rolls Royce across the U.S. and into Mexico. An interest— and then devotion— to Mayan archeology grips him, and Graham becomes the world's leading Mayanist. It's a wonderful history told with good humored self-deprecation and rare insouciance.
Narrator John Mawson inhabits the role of Graham.
Music from the True Vine: Mike Seeger's Life & Musical Journey, by Bill C. Malone
There are few Americans who aren't aware of Pete Seeger, folk music and activist legend. His entire family is legendary, and the brother who has escaped most of the attention is Mike, founder of the The New Lost City Ramblers and the cornerstone of the mid-20th-century folk revival.
If you love American roots music, you're already leaning in— we've all wanted to know this remarkable man's biography. I was raised on these "old records" and almost feel like Mike Seeger taught me how to sing, alongside my mother and father.
Bill C. Malone, Seeger's astute biographer comes from Southern working class culture, and a dedication to music history and fine writing that puts you right in the center of the hootenanny.
Narrator Joe Geoffrey nails it like John Henry!
--Willow Pennell and Susie Bright