We finished our run of Proof last night. I’ve had about half an hour in the car each way to the theater, so I’ve had lots of time to listen to audio content. I thought I’d share some of my musings on the wonder of audiobooks.
I finished David Weber’s A Beautiful Friendship and I’m about halfway through Nora Robert’s Carnal Innocence. It’s set in Mississippi so I’m being very entertained by the narrator’s accents. There are apparently two versions of the audiobook; one with a man narrating (which I’m listening to) and one with a woman. I find it very interesting when a romance novel gets a male narrator. The protagonists are usually female, or as in this case, the narrative is divided between multiple male and female perspectives. I wonder sometimes if male narrators are chosen so that female listeners don’t get uncomfortable listening to another woman describe intimate details. I don’t know that that’s why. It’s just a guess.
I will admit to being fairly uncomfortable if I get to a steamier scene when I’m in the car in traffic or something. Even if I’ve got headphones in I feel like the other people around can tell what I’m listening to! There are other books that I find too intense to listen to. City of Thieves by David Benioff (who is now famous for writing the scripts for Game of Thrones) is one that I started on audio and had to stop listening to. It’s narrated by RON PERLMAN! This is awesome. However, there are horrors of the seige of Leningrad that I don’t actually want Ron Perlman whispering into my ear. It’s also MUCH easier to skip traumatic scenes if you’re reading rather than listening. (Seriously, if you like animals, skip pages 111 & 112. Really. Skip them.) I consider this one of the best books I’ll probably never read again. It is exceptionally well written, but some of the parts are very tough on the reader.
Then there are the audiobooks where the reader just doesn’t quite work for me. Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews is one of those. It’s not that the narrator was bad, but she played the protagonist a little ditzier than I would have prefered. It’s minor, but she just didn’t sound right to me when compared with the character voice in my head. The audiobook was also abridged, which always bothers me. She does the audio versions for lots of Mary Kay Andrew’s books so I think it’s just me. That’ll happen sometimes. I’ve decided how the character would say something and if the narrator does it differently then it makes me a little twitchy.
I go back and forth on authors that read their own books. Sometimes it’s awesome, but every now and then it just doesn’t work. Madeline L’Engle used to be the only narrator you could get for A Wrinkle in Time. Her voice just didn’t work for me on that book. There is a new version available now.
On the other hand, Mary Robinette Kowal narrates her book Shades of Milk & Honey and is really great. It took me a little while to get used to her English accent though. I listen to her on the Writing Excuses podcast, so I’m pretty familiar with her regular speaking voice. So suddenly having authentic sounding British Mary! was a little disconcerting. I highly recommend the book, the audiobook, the sequels, and the signing we’re having with her in September! (There shall be tea and cakes!) And possibly regency costumes if I’m feeling really ambitious.
Another amazing author/narrator is Catherynne Valente. I recently listened to her book, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The tone of the book is a little dry and very elaborate. I’m not sure anyone but the author would be able to do it just right. I like this book extra because the protagonist’s name is September and my birthday is in September so I’ve always felt proprietary about it. It is one of the best months and so, would of course make a good name for an adventurous little girl.