Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mid-May, the wind blows...audiobooks!

It's 100 degrees Fahrenheit in downtown Los Angeles.

Outside of the library it is in the mid 90s. There are several problems with that. The most important is that Starbucks likes to turn up the frosty air when it's hot outside so that the temperature difference between inside and outside is about thirty to forty degrees.

I coward away from the place since it earned me a nice head cold. I'm at the library now, waiting to go to the airport. It's nice having the option to haunt a location where nothing is expected of you. Give me a clean, well-lighted place and I will rebel in the emptiness. No sense of accomplishment. No egotistical drive to get more. Bliss! There is comfort in the lack of responsibility. And I need to feel comfortable. I am no one. Deadbeat son of the Middle Class, why do you see the stars in the ground below you? Louis Corsair, you are a ghost without substance!

While here, and without body or form, I browse the collection of audiobooks; I'm hooked now and need a fix. I do note the differences between this format and written fiction. I enjoyed Gone Girl (in audiobook format) thanks to the performance the readers gave. This made me somewhat guilty at first, since I chickened out of reading the actual book. Yet, there is more to consider here.

A decent reader will bring life the many characters in a story. This adds a dimension of creativity not in the written novel. And this means that the successful audiobook must have a reader that complements the variety of styles in the written book.

Not all readers are adept. For example, I'm reading Ford County (audiobook) and the reader is John Grisham. He...probably should have let someone else read it. The performance is not the best. That doesn't mean that John Grisham can't read (obviously he has to read his work). But Grisham isn't a professional audiobook performer.

Also, the best of readers won't make a unlikable novel better. Consider the case of The Black-Eyed Blonde. The reader was great! Kudos to Dennis Boutsikaris, whose work I now look for when browsing audiobooks. Sadly, Mr. Boutsikaris' talent couldn't save the story... The novel didn't work for me.

It makes me wonder about a number of things. One of the critiques a friend of mine received during a brutal workshop session was that his reading of the story he wrote was too much a performance. He wasn't letting the reader invent the voices in his head; he read the dialogue of one of the characters with an accent meant to be annoying.

And I agreed with the workshop leader then and I still do. But I do enjoy the audio performances of certain professionals. I wonder if in the future there will be a market of writers writing books meant to be performed, similar to stage plays (which are the children of poetry) and screenplays (the children of stage plays). Why not? Before television killed the radio serial, it had a decent audience.

The audiobook, in my opinion, is the descendant of the radio serial. Except now we get to pick the pace the serial goes at.

But here I have mused far too long...


PS: I met my too-easy writing goals already! I'm doubling down on them. The reading will require some will power, unless I only chew on audiobooks.