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December 2012/January 2013

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Editor's Notes Risks and Choices A.S. Byatt's Ragnarok read by Harriet Walter is on our Best Audiobooks of the Year list. Missed it? Never heard of it? Rag- what? This audiobook is one of my personal favorites this year and makes a good case for why we labor so hard to reexamine the more than 2,400 reviews we publish each year and create our very own Best lists: We're not just going to list audio versions of the best sellers. We want to lead you to our very best listens of the year. Here's why we chose Ragnarok. In her review of the Byatt book, Ursula LeGuin wrote, "Retelling a great myth is like performing a famous piece of music: between faithfulness to the familiar score and personal inter- pretation lie many risks and choices." (Literary Review, September 2011). Byatt took the first risks by creating this brilliant retelling of the last chapter of Norse mythology (the subtitle is "The End of the Gods"). But then narrator Harriet Walter stepped up to create a highly memorable performance that pushed it onto our Best of the Year list. Audiobooks are their own art form, and it's good to recognize that many people take risks and make choices in order to bring us the best in audiobooks. Publishers and producers must decide which titles will suc- ceed in audio and who best to narrate them. And then narrators prepare the author's material and encounter "risks and choices" all the way to the end until the recording is done. None of it is easy—one more reason we like to honor "the Best" each year. As Managing Editor Jennifer Dowell and I sift through the year's reviews and ask our contributors to weigh in, everyone tries to articulate what makes a favorite audiobook compelling. Jennifer praised Code Name Verity for its "totally engaged narrators and a gripping story." Contributing Editor S.J. Henschel loved Creole Belle as a winning exam- ple of the longstanding duo of author James Lee Burke and narrator Will Patton. Rich Gotshall, who usually reviews high-profile memoirs and biographies, chose One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season by Chris Ballard, narrated by Mike Chamberlain, saying it was "the best book and the best match of mate- rial and narrator" he'd heard all year. We're excited by the results of our Best lists, and we hope you'll be led to good listens you might have missed. Let us know! Inside Track Look for a special edition of The Year in Audiobooks 2012 at digital.audiofilemagazine.com Robin Whitten Editor and Founder December 2012/January 2013 s 9 Photo by Kevin Brusie

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