The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo

Penguin Random House Audio. Feb. 2022. 20:23 hrs. ISBN 9780593555248. $27.50. MUSIC
Veteran narrator Kaleo Griffith’s warm, conversational tone draws the listener into Hongo’s latest memoir, a beautifully written account of his life through the lens of his lifelong passion for a wide variety of music and his obsession with building the perfect sound system. Though the memoir’s heart is Hongo’s life as an audiophile, issues of race, identity, and cultural history seamlessly make their way into the narrative with stories about the many challenges he and his Hawaiian family members faced as Japanese Americans, some of whom were forced into concentration camps during World War II. In carefully crafted, often breathtaking prose, Hongo, an award-winning poet and professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oregon, deftly weaves together his often humorous coming-of-age adventures and biographical portraits of family and friends with incredibly detailed descriptions of the music he loves and the stereo equipment he collects in his quest for perfect fidelity. Griffith’s careful pacing allows listeners to savor Hongo’s elegant prose and follow the extensive exploration of audio technology.
VERDICT The audiobook is long, but Griffith’s excellent performance, Hongo’s brilliant prose, and the incredible depth and breadth of topics discussed make for a delightful listening experience.
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