Sunday, November 27, 2005

Audio Books

Michael Blowhard, of 2 Blowhards argues a spirited case for audio books. Although I can't see it, it's a fun read.

I can't see it, partly because I have an alarming tendency to nod when others recite - I have embarrassed myself (I snore when I nod) at events for Jorie Graham, W S Merwyn and Ted Koozer!

Perhaps on a long car journey, when I'm driving - but I would likely prefer to talk to a passenger, or myself. Anywhere else, I'd rather read.

This reminds me that I made an "audio book", of sorts, once. I was young, and desperately broke, and a friend of mine had already gone blind in the course of her terminal illness. Abby had all sorts of pull at the Commission for the Blind - she had been a social worker/activist - and got me a forty dollar stipend to recite Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar" onto reel-to-reel tape…a long time ago.

Michael mentions that audio books are frequently abridgements…another subject that interests me. I read a pile of Reader's Digest condensed books in a Portland rooming house during my wayward youth - a pile more when I served in the Army. The editing involved in the condensation appeared graceful and seamless.

Abroad in Asia, some Puritan impulse restrained me from buying heavily condensed pirate editions…now I must wonder how Anne Rice might have fared under a good editor!

I know "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Les Miserables" via Cliff Notes, and the skimming and cribbing involved in some college assignments amounted to producing homemade "Cliff Notes". I think most "well-read" persons have a Mental Library containing lots of cinematic treatments - replacing books we haven't read, and competing with books we have.

Still, I must confess to yearning for Jeremy Irons declaiming Nabokov's "Lolita":

...She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in her one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Delores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita...

Ah, well…by all means, plug into 2 Blowhards Blog, an excellent Arts and Entertainment blog!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember the ads for Readers Digest Condensed Books, in which the authors of the books praised the condensations. So they must have been good, or at least paid good.

7:04 PM  

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