Essayist Jo Ann Beard explores life, death and the craft of writing in Festival Days (7.5 hours). Actor Suehyla El-Attar, known for her roles in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Green Book, reads in a calm, steady voice that emphasizes the collection’s sweeping gravitas, but she also gives personality to each unique piece. In “Werner,” a story about a man escaping an apartment fire, she creates a flowing contrast between firm descriptions of pain and the wistfulness of memory. She narrates “Maybe It Happened” in a lilting, sing-song tone, giving it a nursery-rhyme quality. And in “Close,” a discussion of craft, she is animated and personal, making the listener feel like they are learning from the author herself.
El-Attar’s narration pulls listeners in, highlighting the way a well-constructed sentence can bring an emotion, a scene or an idea to life.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our starred review of the print version of Festival Days.