To Make a Long Story Short…

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John Crace is sort-of like CliffsNotes–except cheeky, erudite, and with a nice accent. In his column for the <em>Guardian</em>, <a title=”The Digested Read” href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/digestedread” target=”_blank”>
<font color=”#800080″>The Digested Read</font>
</a>, the British journalist condenses contemporary books into pithy 700-word stories. Sometimes satirical, always spot-on, Crace’s abridgements often reveal as much as traditional reviews. Compare <a title=”his take on the latest Bond novel” href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jun/03/sebastianfaulks” target=”_blank”>
<font color=”#800080″>his take on the latest Bond novel</font>
</a>, <em>Devil May Care</em>, with <a title=”the New York Times appraisal” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/28/books/28masl.html” target=”_blank”>
<font color=”#800080″>the New York Times appraisal</font>
</a>. Same message, disparate delivery.</p>
<p>Lately, Crace has made a couple of appealing changes. First, he’s started doing <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/digestedreadpodcast” target=”_blank”>
<font color=”#800080″>an audio version of select columns</font>
</a>. Then, around the same time he commenced podcasting, Crace began <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/digestedclassic”>
<font color=”#800080″>condensing the occasional classic</font>
</a>, such as Virginia Woolf’s <em>Mrs. Dalloway</em> and Joseph Conrad’s <em>Heart of Darkness.</em>
</p>
<p>The digested classics are a kick, in column or podcast format, because they offer readers and listeners a chance to compare (perhaps foggy) recollections of a text with the freshly condensed version. Even if you haven’t read <em>Heart of Darkness</em> for decades, Crace’s digested version sings with familiar phrases and nimbly selected scenes: the memorable bits that lodged in your brain even as the rest faded away. Identifying those bits, that’s where a good excerpt begins.</p>
<p>Crace’s column is weekly, and the podcasts show up intermittently. The most recent content, just posted today, is a <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/audio/2008/jul/22/loveinthetimeofcholera” target=”_blank”>
<font color=”#800080″>reading of the digested <em>Love in the Time of Cholera</em>
</font>
</a> by Gabriel García Márquez. The <a href=”http://books.guardian.co.uk/digestedclassic/story/0,,2291722,00.html”>
<font color=”#800080″>column version</font>
</a> ran this past weekend.</p>
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<em>Image by</em>
<a title=”wmshc_kiwi” href=”http://flickr.com/photos/wmshc_kiwitayro/” target=”_blank”>
<em>wmshc_kiwi</em>
</a>
<em>, licensed under</em>
<a title=”Creative Commons” href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en” target=”_blank”>
<em>Creative Commons</em>
</a>
<em>.</em>
</p>

UTNE
UTNE
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