||This unabridged audio version of Cold Mountain, read by author Charles Frazier, deserves at least as much acclaim as the bestselling print edition, which won the National Book Award. The tale chronicles a Confederate army deserter's search for home and love in the last days of the Civil War.
Much has been made of the story's homage to The Odyssey, the origins of which are found in an oral tradition. One can't help but hear echoes of Homer when listening to Frazier's soft, deliberate voice give life to his lyrical writing and to his understated, yet convincing rendering of the overwhelming events of war. Both Frazier's prose and reading are leisurely, recalling a slow foot pace. His delivery is uniquely suited to Innman's arduous, adventure-filled walk toward home and to the possibility of a reunion with Ada, the woman he loves. The author's reading does equal justice to Ada, who is being transformed by her struggle for survival on her father's farm. There is precious little dialogue, and Frazier makes no effort at acting out the characters.
One small irritation in the production is a beeping noise at the end of each side. Another minor complaint is that the tapes don't have individual boxes, which was perhaps an attempt to make the overall package appear more booklike. The recording does, however, make deft use of two brief musical interludes. In a subtle twist, the fiddle music that opens the first cassette, when repeated as an accompaniment to the epilogue, carries a bittersweet and unexpected resonance. By all means, forgive Random House Audio the tiny glitches, pass over that slender abridged version, and take home the real thing. This audiocassette is a journey that will leave few listeners unchanged by the experience. (Running time: 14.5 hours, 12 cassettes) --Naomi J. Cohn