The tie that binds Billy Mann, the hero and narrator of William Kowalski's captivating debut novel Eddie's Bastard (6 hours), captivatingly performed by Campbell Scott, was wrapped in a basket and left on the doorstep of a dilapidated mansion in Mannville, New York, like some Dickens character. Three-month-old Billy was the answer to his sad, whiskey-soaked grandfather's prayers: a child, the son of his own mythically handsome, heroic son who died in Vietnam, to carry on the Mann line and, more importantly, to hear the stories of all the Manns who went before some in shame, some in glory. And so, with grandpa telling the tales, we grow up with Billy as he learns to weave the old stories into his own new story and learns to live, and love, and be a Mann. Sukey Howard reports on spoken word audio each month.

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