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“Harvest”: A fairy-tale witch hunt

There are two kinds of great film actors: the ones who can play any part (Meryl Streep) and those who essentially play the same character over and over again, but do it surpassingly well (Clark Gable). This formula can also be applied to audiobook narrators. Some transform their voices so as to be almost unrecognizable from book to book (David Aaron Baker -- I still can't believe the guy who read Charles Portis' "Norwood" also read M.T. Anderson's great dystopian YA novel, "Feed"), and others, while less versatile, are sometimes just the perfect fit for the book in hand.

John Keating's narration of Jim Crace's "Harvest," falls into the latter category. His eminently pleasant voice, with an Irish lilt that he turns up and down at will, is more or less the same whatever book he's reading. In the case of "Harvest," a deceivingly simple account of the implosion of a small rural community, it is exactly the right voice to convey a story with some of the qualities of a fairy tale. Small things here have big meanings, and Keating, who imparts the flavor of a bedtime story to the proceedings, adds to the novel's archetypal resonance.

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