Monday, June 06, 2011

Narrators Make or Break an Audiobook

Hi. My name is Anne and I am hooked on audiobooks. Even more so since my sight is not what it used to be.

It's not easy to read an entire long book aloud and remain consistent in the character of the reading so this is my tip o' the hat to the narrators and performers of these works.

One audiobook I was prepared to love turned out to be an ear-torturing mess. I wanted to love this one; it is about the Yiddish language and the author read it. No, I am not going to out the book; the author is probably embarrassed enough without my little squib from an obscure blog.

There are several amazing audio performers who seem to have a magical touch about their reading or performing a book. Performing is perhaps more appropriate a term for works of fiction as the narrator has to give different voices to different characters. And be consistent! And not sneeze or get hiccups.

Nick Podehl does a wonderful performance of Foundation and Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey. He gets the voices right and the moods of the different scenes. As soon as the third book in The Collegium Chronicles comes out I am getting it! His work on two of Andre Norton's Witchworld books is also right for those books. Unlike some male readers he can convey the femininity of female characters.

Not every audio performer can do nonfiction and fiction. Scott Brick handles both extremely well. From No One Would Listen by Harry Markopolos (about the Bernie Madoff scandal) to Terry Brooks' Shannara epic fantasies he shines. His performance of female voices is excellent. I have several more of his works in my audio library, including Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Bad Money by Kevin Philips

At times a performer seems to almost channel the author; Christian Rodska becomes Winston Churchill while reading those books. He conveys the tragedy of the war in the four volume history of World War Two without over-emoting.

When I first heard about the Autobiography of Mark Twain I knew I'd get it if it came out in audiobook format. It has and Grover Gardner of Blackstone Audio absolutely nails it! He skipped the Mississippi accent but that does not matter. I'll be re-listening to that one this summer. He narrates the massive work by William Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I'm unsure how to describe that performance other than brilliant. It's a tough piece of history brought to life.

There are many more wonderful narrators and performers I must mention and thank. June is Audiobook Month so I should really blog more about them.

Huge thanks to all who make audiobooks possible.