Sunday, April 28, 2013
How I Read
I read a lot of audio books (which is listening, technically, I suppose), and, while a reader I don’t like probably won’t make me stop reading the book, a reader I like very much can and does enhance my enjoyment. I’ve just finished one such, and am reading another, so it seems like a good time to talk about book narrators. I just finished Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson (the Walt Longmire series). It is produced by the NLS (National Library service) which provides recorded and Braille books for the print impaired (I understand why they use that phrase, but it doesn’t make me like it any better, sigh). Anyway, it’s read by Jim Zeiger, and his voice and reading style is absolutely perfect for this series. He has the Western drawl down pat...the slow, almost lazy way of speaking, touched with a kind of humorous cynicism, as though the speaker takes very little too seriously, especially himself. His interpretation of Walt is so believable that I can’t imagine anyone else having his voice. I’ve never seen the TV series, but I expect I’d have some serious “getting used to” to do. He does just as well with most of the other characters, especially the Native Americans. I’ve listened to other books he has interpreted, and while they were well done, this is the kind of perfect match that makes his performance an integral part of the book for me, and part of what I look forward to when I begin another Longmire book. I’ll have a great deal more to say about this series at some point, because I enjoy it very much. The 2nd book is River of Smoke by Amitav Jhaveri Ghosh read by Sanjiv Jhaveri. This is a commercial audio book which has been produced, with permission, by the NLS. This reader is perfect because of the subject matter, the profusion of dialects and the numerous foreign words and phrases. The reader’s English is impeccable, but I suspect it is either a 2nd language, or, more likely, he is entirely bi-lingual. Whatever the case, it is an absolute joy to listen to his interpretation, because he brings this richly complex book, with its diverse characters from many cultures to vibrant life in a way which nothing else could. I’ve done much of my reading using audio books (which we used to call talking books) for most of my life, so many of the books I love most have a specific voice associated with them. Some of the readers I’m listened to were truly wonderful, and, when I was young, it almost seemed as though the reader had somehow transported him or herself into my room, and was present with me …that, in fact, we were enjoying the book together. In a way, I felt as though I knew some readers, though, of course, I didn’t, and they didn’t even know I existed. Still perhaps, in some way I can neither understand nor explain, there was, and is, a connection between me, the listener, and the reader, if only for the time that I am listening to the book.