cover image And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, , read by Ray Porter. . Blackstone Audio, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4332-4912-9

Distinctly different from their later works, Burroughs and Kerouac's collaborative 1945 novel (unpublished until 2008) reimagines their experience when one of their friends killed his lover. The narrative switches back and forth between authors as each write interweaving chapters through the eyes of the characters Mike Ryko (Kerouac) and Will Dennison (Burroughs), cataloguing the descent in Al and Philip's relationship. Ray Porter's impressive reading captures such distinct performances for the alternating chapters that one has trouble believing the Dennison and Ryko chapters are read by the same person. His tone and attitude evoke a sense of grittiness inherent in the text. His strong delivery of the straight narrative along with convincing and consistent vocal characterizations keep the performance lively and engaging. Given how the edgy and almost pulp fiction writing is so different from the two authors' typical works, listeners may be more impressed with Porter's performance than the actual text. A Grove/Atlantic hardcover (reviewed online). (Dec.)