Great Listening

Charlotte’s Web. Written and performed by E.B. White, with an afterword written by Peter F. Neumeyer and read by George Plimpton.

Review by Laurie Sabol, Tisch Library Instruction Coordinator
Ever slopped a pig? Ever read Charlotte’s Web? Seen the movie? Ever wanted to hear the original intentions of its author, E. B. White? If so, run, don’t walk, to the Media Center and request FCD 121.

I admit that when I reread Charlotte’s Web as an adult a few years ago, it did not move me. But when I listened to the CD version of it, as read by White, when he was 70 years old, in the late 60s, I was transported back to my carefree days as a child when I imagined that pigs might faint and spiders were good writers. White’s voice is young and strong, slightly accented by his upbringing in New York and his life in Maine and he is creative in his impressions of the various characters.

Highlights of the recorded version were the discussion between Fern’s mother and their family physician, in which Dr. Dorian assures Mrs. Arable that nothing is wrong with Fern’s active imagination and White’s interpretation of the good-for-nothing (well, almost nothing) Templeton, the rat. Wouldn’t you know that Steve Buscemi voiced Templeton’s in a movie version? A further highlight was that I could hear pages being turned towards the end of the CD.

The story runs for over 2 CDs, the third one ending with a 20 minute biographical and critical sketch of White by Peter Neumeyer, read by George Plimpton in his inimitable voice.
Call number for Charlotte’s Web: FCD 121