Black Dahlia & White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates (Harper Audio)

Read by Tavia Gilbert, Coleen Marlo, & Paul Michael Garcia

Three narrators team up to deliver Oates’s intriguing short story collection. Paul Michael Garcia takes on the stories with a male point of view, Coleen Marlo delivers those in the point of view of older women, and Tavia Gilbert narrates for the younger women. This formula gives balance to the collection and helps make each story distinct. All three engagingly portray the psychological, and sometimes physical, hardships depicted in these domestic dramas of contemporary America. Oates’s stories are not cheery, nor are they completely dark. They dwell in a twilight of unresolvable real life. The narrators convey this mood with somber readings that reflect the book’s intriguing depictions of the not-so-pretty lives we lead. AudioFile

With this latest collection, Oates continues to delve into the dark depths of the human condition with diverse stories of loss, regret, angst, and murder. This audio edition features a series of winning performances from narrators Paul Michael Garcia, Coleen Marlo, and Tavia Gilbert. Among the highlights are “I.D.,” “Run Kiss Daddy,” “San Quentin,” and “Anniversary,” the latter two providing different and disturbing perspectives of prison life. However, the title story shines brightest. In it, Oates fictionalizes the lives of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia, and her roommate, Norma Jean Baker, soon to become the legendary Marilyn Monroe. As both women tell their stories, Gilbert and Marlo give spot-on performances. Garcia rounds out the cast with his rendition of an opportunistic photographer who may have placed the two women on their respective paths through history. Publishers Weekly