DOING IT. Melvin Burgess. 2003/2004. Read by James Gilbey. 6 tapes. 9 hrs. Imagination studio, Random House Audio. 0-8072-2329-8. $40.00. Vinyl; plot, author, reader notes. A
This is the story of three teenage Brits–Dino. Ben and Jonathan–and while it is not for the faint-hearted, it is great listening and a good story. It’s just that it’s all about sex, sex and more sex. The first two minutes in, the boys discuss oral and anal sex options and orgasms while arguing “old is better than ugly” versus “nothing’s worse than old” as they play a game of forcing each other to make complicated, revealing and disgusting decisions about fantasy sexual encounters.
As the story progresses we learn that Dino is the school golden boy who has a longstanding yearning for Jackie, local golden girl. He feels they’re destined for each other; she couldn’t care less. Suddenly she starts to dabble in a relationship with him and falls head over heels in lust, but then insists on keeping the relationship unconsummated. Consequently, Dino hooks up with a more willing girl and starts two-timing the unsuspecting Jackie, who thinks he’s being sweet by not pressuring her. Then Dino’s parents separate, his two girlfriends find out about each other, and suddenly he’s no longer living the golden life.
Meanwhile, the more fortunate Jonathan is merely struggling to decide whether to date his good friend Deborah, the school ‘fat girl’ who is actively pursuing him, and whether he can find enough courage to go to a doctor to finally find out whether the bulge on his erect penis is cancer or not. The last of the trio, Ben, is living what his friends would view as a fantasy: he’s been seduced by one of his teachers! After it goes on for months, he wants out, but finds himself trapped by his submissive role in the secretive affair. And when he finally musters his nerve and tries to break with her, she cuts her wrists and ropes him right back in to her life.
James Gilbey brilliantly reads all this drama and angst. His performance is unvoiced, but it scarcely matters because he brings so much passion to the characters’ passions. Every line’s rendition is spot-on, whether it’s conversation, panic-stricken exclamations, anguish or humorous utterances. Gilbey seems to be channeling the characters and providing the listener an exact interpretation of their utterances. Listeners will feel that they’re eavesdropping on actual people, and Gilbey does it in a British accent that highlights the setting of the story. This story definitely won’t be for everyone, and it has the potential to offend quite a few, but what a treat for those who are open to it. (Editor’s note: a current ABC TV series, life as we know it, is based on this controversial novel.) Carol Reich, Youth Svcs. Mgr., Hillsboro PL., Hillsboro, OR
COPYRIGHT 2004 Kliatt
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group