Audiobook Review: King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher

kingmildTitle: King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography
Author: Chris Crutcher
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Chris Crutcher
First line: I grew up riding a rocket.

Last summer, when I embarked on the project that is the Literary Road Trip, I had the privilege of interviewing (via e-mail) Chris Crutcher, YA author of Deadline and Whale Talk, among others. He was the first author I approached out of the blue for an interview – and he was wonderfully approachable and accommodating, also helping me find some other Washington authors, like Terry Davis. I knew after the interview that I wanted to read one of his books, and the library just happened to have his autobiography on audiobook, read by Mr. Crutcher himself.

I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to listen – my experience with authors reading their own audiobooks has been hit and miss. Some, like Neil Gaiman, are brilliant. Others, to remain nameless, are terrible. I shouldn’t have worried, though – Crutcher reads very well, and knowing that the person who lived through these experiences was the person whose voice I was hearing made it a rich listening experience.

Crutcher grew up in the little town of Cascade, Idaho. This memoir is a mixture of his memories of growing up and his experiences as a therapist and author. It is about 75% hysterically funny and 25% moving and honest about the damage people inflict on each other.

Author, teacher, and therapist, yes, but Crutcher’s natural gift is clearly as a storyteller. I was immensely entertained as he told stories about being less than talented in sports, inclined to pull pranks, and in love with the very idea of pretty girls. Think part David Sedaris, part Pat McManus.

For those of you who like to read about the journey of a writer, what gives them inspiration, and what their path to publication was like, there is also treasure here for you. I have yet to read any of Crutcher’s fiction, but his titles have all made themselves onto my to-read list. His talent with words and character is evident in this memoir – I can’t wait to see what he does with YA fiction.

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11 Responses to Audiobook Review: King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher

  1. Kathy says:

    This sounds great! I love stories about growing up in a small town.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kathy – you should definitely read this then! And if you haven’t already, you should read Beverly Cleary’s two-part memoir: A Girl from Yamhill and then My Own Two Feet. Wonderful stuff!

  2. I love discovering new authors. I remember when you first featured Mr. Crutcher on your blog. This sounds like a funny book and he sounds like such a great person. Thanks for your review, Carrie!
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..Monday At the Movies: Taking Chance =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – It was fun to read something after coming to “know” the author first – great experience. Of course, if I had hated the book, it would have been a bit awkward. ;)

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I found this to be the case when I listened to Haruki Murakami’s memoir. He did not narrated it himself, but I absolutely loved hearing about how he became a writer, what motivated him, and how he stayed focused. I’m going to look into this guy!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Winners of "Home is Where the Wine Is" by Laurie Perry =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I love writer’s memoirs – On Writing by Stephen King is another great one!

  4. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12
    says:

    I’ve had the same experience with author’s reading their own books. Sometimes it’s wonderful and they can provide all the correct inflections and pauses, because they know where they want them. Other times it’s just painfully bad.
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Book List: 3 Books That Make Me Long for Warmer Weather =-.

  5. Kailana says:

    This sounds good. :)

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