The Narrator is the Thing December 14, 2009Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
Tags: audiobooks, books, david sedaris, new yorker
Do you love David Sedaris? I certainly do. Listening to his humorous memoirs have constituted a good portion of my commutes, often alleviating my chronic road-rage issues. In this article in the New Yorker, he lists his favorite audiobooks, short-story collections, and novels. I have often wondered what writers think about audiobooks and I could not agree more with Sedaris than with his statement,
“The problem with audiobooks is that they’re so often imbalanced. This is to say that the narrator is better than his material. Just as often, the situation is reversed, and a so-so actor will ruin a good book.”
Many times I have begun a well-reviewed book in audio form only to eject it because the narration is so grating or incongruous to the voice that I had imagined. Here is my personal list of the best and worst audiobooks.
(Really just five of the good ones I first thought of. The list could go on and on. I especially recommend audiobooks for works containing foreign words such as “The Kiterunner,” by Khaled Hosseini. It’s great to hear words in other languages pronounced correctly.)
1. “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” by Audrey Niffenegger, read by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow.
2. “Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen, read by Flo Gibson.
3. “Feed,” by M.T. Anderson, read by David Aaron Baker.
4. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry.
5. “In Cold Blood,” by Truman Capote, read by Scott Brick.
1. “The Birth of Venus,” by Sarah Dunant, read by Jenny Sterlin. (Because it was supposed to be about a romantic love affair and the narrator sounded like an elderly woman.)
2. “The Mermaid Chair,” by Sue Monk Kidd, read by Eliza Foss. (Annoying Southern accent. And yes, I realize this might be a personal issue.)
3. “The Time Machine,” by H.G. Wells, read by Bernard Mayes. (It sounded like he was in a tunnel.)
4. “Son of a Witch,” by Gregory Maguire, read by the author. (It’s my personal opinion that authors should not read their own books unless it’s a memoir or non-fiction. This was terrible!)
5. “Anthem,” by Ayn Rand, read by Christopher Lane. (Admittedly, I think I was just annoyed that half the book was commentary on Rand’s life and beliefs.)
Do you read audiobooks? Which do you think are the best and worst?