Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Commentary on Audiobooks in General, Dark Highlander Specifically

I am a book addict.  I have at least 2 books going at any given time.  If I include the books I use for my spiritual practice the number approaches double digits.  I also hate to wait. 
I don't like lines, driving to get somewhere, sitting in a doctor's office waiting for my appt. I want to be doing something, anything instead of waiting.  To help with my angst, of course, I read.  It turns that annoyance into an opportunity to get a few more pages in. (Note: I included driving in the above list and we all know one can't read and drive at the same time.  I will be honest and at one time thought stop lights were really just another chance to get a paragraph read.  I have stopped that practice and not because I was in an accident either.  I just realized what an idiot I was being.)
So I turned to audiobooks.  I wasn't sure I would like listening to a book.  When I read it is my imagination that puts the gravel in a voice, the feel of silky hair against skin, or the gasp of shock in a taut moment.  The writer has a voice and I put my own spin to that voice when I read.  You can't do that with audiobooks.  The narrator is giving the book life.  All those things I create in my head when reading a book are turned over to the production of the audiobook.  I know you know what I mean.  We watch tv and we have agreed to see the show as the producer/director/actor intended.  It is the same with an audiobook.  Cool, I can do that.  I love a good audiobook.  It makes me think of my grandparents and how they must have sat around the radio to listen to "The Shadow" or "Mutt  and Jeff".  It is great on a long drive to have a companion like a good book to keep you entertained and awake.
Just like tv and the movies there are shows or performers I like and those I don't.  I really enjoy Jonathan Marosz who does the narration for most of the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben.  I also enjoy Lorelie King who reads the Stephanie Plum series.  These readers have, for me, really captured the story.  They don't use falsetto voices, bad accents or strange enunciation s.  They aren't trying to show off.  They are just reading the story.  In fact I forget I am listening and can start seeing in my mind how a character looks or sounds in the same way I do when I am reading.
Then there are those readers who I don't like. They are acting out the book and while I love good acting I don't really think acting has a place in reading. When a reader over acts the story then I can't engage.   Recently I was listening to "Dark Highlander" by Karen Marie Moning.  I am a big fan of Ms. Moning.  She writes strong characters and even stronger erotic scenes.  The reader for "Dark Highlander" was Phil Gigante. He used a Scottish accent for the men and a falsetto for the women.  He enunciated each  "t" and "d".  The accent was really quite good but it was really strange to go from the rolling burr to middle american over pronunciation.  I could deal with that but then these women who are supposed to be strong and intelligent sounded breathy and silly thanks to his falsetto voice.  It was horribly distracting.  Ms. Moning writes great graphic erotic scenes and when Mr. Gigante was reading as the Scotsman I was in the moment and then he would ruin it with that female falsetto or his too perfect speech.  I mean he really killed the mood!
In closing I would like to offer a caution to authors who are getting their books recorded.  Be careful of who you get to read your book out loud.  A book is not a movie.  It isn't a radio show.  It is a book and it is audio only.  Find someone who will read clearly, who will bring the tension, the sensuality, anger, sadness or joy through the words and leave the acting to the tv and the movies.

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