Audio Books Postmodern to Classic Valentine Tapes


From Los Angeles Times (February 6, 2000)

by Rochelle O'Gorman

If your significant other eschews gooey chocolates and gooier romances, you may opt for these alternative audio romances as a gift this Valentine's Day.

Douglas Coupland , the author of such breezy comic novels as "Generation X" and "Microserfs," tries his hand at retelling a literary chestnut with "Miss Wyoming." He tacks a postmodern spin on his version of that old story in which boy meets girl, loses girl and finds girl again. (Brilliance Audio; unabridged fiction; six cassettes; eight hours; $29.95; read by Sharon Williams and Aaron Frye. Also available abridged; four cassettes; six hours; $24.95; read by Williams and Frye.)

Though only 27, Susan Colgate is a has-been of immense proportions. A former beauty queen, child star, rock 'n' roll wife and airplane crash survivor, she is now known for her grade-B movies and former fame. At 37, John Johnson is a producer of mindless action flicks who hopes to jump-start his career after a mental breakdown. These two Tinseltown burnouts meet and realize they are meant for one another. But when Susan disappears mysteriously, John finds himself caught up in a crazy quest to find her.

As John and Susan move closer to their own version of a Hollywood happy ending, Coupland unveils their histories while detailing the inanity of pop culture. His minor characters are colorful and eccentric and intriguing. However, his descriptions and similes, which are often dreadful enough when read, become even more exaggerated when heard aloud. For example: "John felt as close to Susan as paint to a wall."

The publisher was wise to employ two narrators, as the story frequently switches its point of view from Susan to John.

Williams is a more memorable reader than Frye. Neither has a particularly noteworthy voice, but Williams has a knack for accents and changes her voice perceptively for different characters. She ably picks up on the novel's humor. For most of his performance, Frye is serviceable, although nothing more.