Fred Sanders Chances Are Q&A
Q&A with Fred Sanders, narrator of Chances Are…

From stage to screen, actor Fred Sanders has brought countless characters to life. His work, however, isn’t just on a stage or in front of a camera; his voice has also brought a multitude of nuanced characters and stories to life via audiobook narration. And, that’s just what he does with his latest project.

In Richard Russo’s masterful new novel Chances Are…, decades-long friendships, impactful memories of love, and nostalgia for a time and place are just a few of the themes that are explored. For Fred Sanders, those themes are just some of the reasons he deeply identified with this piece.

Tell us a little about Chances Are….
Chances Are… is an engrossing novel about the reunion weekend of three male classmates from a small college in Connecticut, now in their mid-sixties, and an absent fourth friend who haunts them.

In college the self-styled Three Musketeers (Lincoln, Mickey, and Teddy) got to know each other in their term-time job as hashers (washing pots or serving food) at one of the sororities, where they also met their sorority girl d’Artagnan, Jacy, who had a boyfriend (later her fiancé) back home in Greenwich.

The reunion is at a house on Martha’s Vineyard inherited by Lincoln, a moderately conservative Arizona-bred real estate developer. It is the same house where they all four last saw each other, just after graduation. The story shifts back and forth in time, from this weekend to that weekend, as they catch up with each other’s lives and ponder the mysterious disappearance of Jacy, who after that long-ago weekend was never seen or heard from again.

Another important character is the Vietnam War, especially because Mickey, plumber’s son turned rock ‘n’ roll musician, drew a low lottery number that guaranteed his induction. Staunchly liberal Teddy and sensitive Jacy tried hard to talk him into running off to Canada instead. The choice he made and how that fits into other choices and sacrifices of young American men at this time are a large element of the book.

Was there a character in the book that you found yourself wanting to explore more? Why?
The character of Jacy’s country-club lawyer fiancé appears in only one scene: when he confronts Teddy about his suspicions over what might have happened to Jacy. His anger and frustration seem to stem from such legitimate pain that I wondered what else I could find out about this character, whom we’ve only been allowed to see from the Musketeers’ jaundiced viewpoint (they are all, to one degree or another, in love with the unattainable Jacy, Teddy most of all). People in positions of privilege may seem shallow to those less entitled, but their suffering sometimes reveals them to be just as human. I wonder how complicated his feelings were about his fiancée’s unorthodox friendship with the Three Musketeers.

Is there a book or character you’ve narrated that helped you explore parts of yourself?
Interestingly, it was this very same book that has been most helpful in my own self-exploration. I also went to college in Connecticut, had three inseparable male friends/roommates (we called ourselves, yes, the Four Musketeers), and we would sometimes spend weekends, not in Martha’s Vineyard but Nantucket, the next island over, where one of my roommate’s family had a house. Though somewhat younger than the characters in this book, I also had to deal with the Vietnam draft lottery and appearing before a draft board, and I played (and still play) rock ‘n’ roll. Memories of powerful romantic feelings from that time, the importance of long-term friendships (I saw all the Musketeers at our last college reunion, and we have all maintained contact through the years), and the profound impact of becoming an adult in the forge of the mid-’70s were mirrored and heightened by Russo’s observations and musings in this wonderful novel. No matter how old we are on the outside, we are all eighteen years old inside, and how we experienced age eighteen has a lot to do with how our lives and feelings unfold.

What audiobook would you take with you on vacation?
On vacation, I like to leave the news cycle behind and just be entertained, so any detective procedural by Michael Connelly or Lee Child or John Sandford.

Is there a fictional world (that you’ve narrated or one you’ve enjoyed reading about) that you’d like to explore? Why?
I’ve been listening to the wonderful Craig Wasson narrating This Storm by James Ellroy, and the 1940s Los Angeles and Baja California it describes are riveting, especially now that I live in Los Angeles and visit Baja a bit. As a native New Yorker, I am always looking for more history here in LA, and this novel really brings it out in so many ways. I’m also partial to my brother Jay O. Sanders brilliantly reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, a maddeningly timeless maze of human lunacy and inhuman logic that can only be suggested by the necessarily abridged TV and movie versions. Comically and morally, I’d love to explore this insanity even more, though being there with them at wartime, no thanks. Come to think of it, not crazy about being alive in 1940s Los Angeles, either!


Author: Richard Russo
Read By: Fred Sanders

“Narrator Fred Sanders is a master of pacing, easily carrying listeners through the many layers of this story of three college roommates reuniting for the first time since their 1971 graduation.”—AudioFile, Earphones Award Winner

“[Russo’s] first novel in ten years hits the ball out of the park….If you’re on a hammock in the Vineyard or under a tent in Acadia, or slumped over the fire escape of your hot city apartment, chances are your chances are awfully good that you’ll lap up this gripping, wise, and wonderful summer treat.”—Mameve Medwed, The Boston Globe

“[Chances Are…] blends everything we love about this author with something new. Yes, this is a novel about male friendship, fathers and sons, small-town class issues, and lifelong crushes, and it provides the familiar pleasure of immersion in the author’s distinctive, richly observed world and his inimitable ironic voice. But this is also a mystery about a 1971 cold case.”—Kirkus (starred review)

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