19 October 2018
It’s odd hearing your husband’s words spoken by somebody else.
I read BH’s book Crater’s Edge so many times, both when he was writing it and later after it was published, I reckon I know it almost by heart. Now I am listening to it, a very different experience.
It has just been released as an Audible audiobook and, needless to say, reduced me to tears within a few sentences. When BH wrote it he never intended his biography to be a sad book; and it isn’t all sad, there’s humour a-plenty and optimism to leaven the tragedy. It was written to relay the facts as they happened and exactly as he remembered them. He was always surprised when he found me crying over it, as I invariably did.
“But it’s not sad, it’s what happened.”
Exactly, that’s precisely why it’s sad.
Serious and truthful, the book is written without an agenda or for effect. The result is genuinely transparent. The reader sees the characters, their surroundings and their different destinies in sharp outline; no hiding place for the wicked, full sunshine for the innocent.
Sam Dastor is an accomplished British actor who has recorded several audio titles including one of my favourites, Kim. It matters not that the narrator is not a Polish, Russian, or even a Kazakh speaker, all languages that sprinkle the text. He tackles the foreign words with confident aplomb.
It took BH almost ten years to write Crater’s Edge. There were many revisions, many corrections and much careful research. It was a project ideally suited to BH’s character – he was a thorough man in every way. He was also extremely honest, “a spade a spade” man. Haunted by memories, some so painful he didn’t share them even with me, writing the book settled many ghosts. He felt that future generations needed to know the truth about the events he described; indeed that that they ought to know.
The Audible version will I hope, serve as an introduction to the book itself. Here is the link.