The year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of a unique venture into the early days of literary recordings. In 1963, three young entrepreneurs in Boston persuaded some of the most original voices of the era to participate by reading selections from their work. The trio then produced recordings on 7” long-playing records to be sold in bookstores as “the companion to the paperback book.” The authors—Nelson Algren, James Baldwin, James Jones, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, William Styron and John Updike—went on to become among the leading writers of their time, and the records, under the label Calliope, were warmly welcomed and praised.
Now, given the thriving state of audio material, two of the original producers, Lynne & Harry Schwartz, decided the recordings should be made available to a brand-new audience. The result is, Calliope Author Readings ($15.95), with re-issued tracks ranging from 14 to 24 minutes long, on two CDs. These tracks include:
-Nelson Algren reading from The Man With the Golden Arm
-James Baldwin reading from Giovanni’s Room and Another Country
-James Jones reading from From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line
-Bernard Malamud reading a story from The Magic Barrel
-Philip Roth reading from Letting Go
-William Styron reading from Lie Down in Darkness
-John Updike reading a story from Pigeon Feathers
Since nearly all of these authors are now deceased, in most cases this is the only opportunity to hear their own interpretations of their work. As John Ciardi wrote, “They read lovingly and feelingly the sentences and cadences of their stories…. One is left with an experience.”
Lynne and her husband, Harry, are the co-directors of Calliope Author Readings.