Going audio

I’ve been meaning to start listening to audio books during my commute time ever since I moved down to Utah and found myself with an hour daily commute (round-trip). I’ve been foiled at every turn. My mp3 player that could handle it died. The replacement I acquired wouldn’t accept the install, and may have been an incompatible model. I haven’t had time to do the research to see what models are Audible compatible and still within my price range.

No more. I finally bit the bullet, did the research, and sometime within the next week or so my new mp3 player should be arriving. As soon as that happens I’ll be starting up an Audible account and jumping into the world of audio books.

The temptation is to start off with some old favorites. One of my favorite books is William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, though technically I’ve never read it. I experienced it as an audio book, and it’s one I keep wanting to come back to. Shelly Frasier does an excellent job with Gibson’s (I’ve since learned) challenging prose. I’ve been tempted to buy a hard copy of it for some time, but I’ve always resisted, just in case the text version fails to live up to Frasier’s delivery.

If ever I were tempted to emulate a writer or want to write in a writer’s world it would be Gibson’s “Bigend Trilogy” (if that was ever the official title). But I know I could never pull it off. Gibson may very well be “Mary-Sue”-ing for this series: Cayce Pollard, the protagonist of Pattern Recognition, is a “cool hunter”, and to write this book Gibson had to have become one himself. I’ve not read Spook Country, the second book, yet, and I should. Zero History, the third, was a bit of a disappointment, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Gibson tends to cluster his shots: three books on any given topic, then off to something else. Perhaps with Pattern Recognition he hit it in one; anything else will be off-target by comparison.

But I digress, even if I might have identified a possible candidate for my first audio book.

I’ve written before about the translation of a text to audio is transformative, not just translative. Narrators are performers, and while perhaps not raising the text to the level of dramatic presentation (ie. radio play, for those old enough to remember them), there’s an art to creating audio books. The best ones add life and drama to the text, but manage to do so in way that doesn’t draw attention from the text to the reader. I’ve seen some walk that line a little too closely and occasionally slip over. I’ve also seen some stay too far away from the line and deliver a dead book.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting back into audio books. Though my drive time hasn’t been wasted, I’m looking forward to making it more meaningful again.

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2 Responses to Going audio

  1. Dan Stratton says:

    Have you listened to Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series? Those are well worth the listen, too. Kids love it, too.

  2. Thom says:

    I listened to several of your copies years back. I’m not sure I remember where I left off, but yes, I should probably pick those up again, too.

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