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.


Jola Gayle said...

Good to see your post! I miss ya.

Scott Brick? Blech, and he's like a cockroach - everywhere. :-) Seriously, Brick makes me feel like I'm walking against the wind in Chicago when it stops blowing. I'm worn out by the end of a book he narrates.

Grover Gardner is superb and just a joy! He does Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" series. He nails it every time.

Stefan Rudnicki is just as good as Gardner. It's a hard choice between who's best, Rudnicki or Gardner. Then, why choose? They're both ear candy.

And let's not forget the women - Kate Reading or whatever AKA she uses is fantastic.

Don't you dislike men who do women's voices all high and breathless? Get real. Unless you're Jennifer Tilly, few women talk that way.

Anne said...

I post when I can type. The eye problems are a barking nuisance.

I really like Scott Brick. He's not suitable for everything certainly. Gotta give him credit for working hard, though. I do not think his style would work on Tears in the Darkness though.

I think my favorite female narrator is Katherine Kellgren. She has performed some of Connie Willis' science fiction and she's awesome. I love her work.

It's hard for a male performer to really "get" women's voices, I think. They may do the high and breathy because they don't know any other way to do them. Yeah, it's as annoying as a chainsaw motor.

I hope to post another narrator post soon. Looking up stuff is taking a toll. Hey, at least I can knit without having to see what I am doing. That may explain the sleeves on the doilies and ear flaps on the socks!