October 22nd, 2006


Reading Aloud

I've taken a new job, or at least taken on a new task.  Blackstone Audio (http://www.blackstoneaudio.com/) has quixotically decided that Aegypt would make a fine Audio Book, and whatever doubts I myself might have about it (I picture thousands of commuters flipping the cassette in their car stereos to hear the story continue, and find myself unconvinced by the picture, but the noble Haila WIlliams at Blackstone has more conviction.)   So as long as it was being done, I volunteered to read it myself.  Possibly (and justly) doubtful about this, Blackstone sent me an audition tape of an experienced reader to listen to, and he certainly was skilful, particularly in suggesting the (rather complicated) syntax of the sentences, nested semi-colons and parentheses and glimmers of Free Indirect Discourse,  He didn't sound as though he was going to find the story very funny, though (I think of it basically as comic) and the voice was deep and resonant and masterful, which seemed wrong; so I myself did an audition tape, and Backstone liked it well enough to hire me.  So I've begun.  The first day I spent a couple of hours at it and found it very hard work, this despite the fact that I have been reading my own stuff aloud for years.  I kept tensing up, which was exhausting, and the tenser I grew the more the mouth muscles had to be forced into the required small movements (you know, producing word-sounds, etc.)

Anyway I'm getting a little better.  The whole is going to take some  twelve hours or so to read, not counting breaks, stretches, fluffs, redos, time to pat the recording engineer's sweet little dog, sip water, swallow saliva, snort, blow nose, gasp, sigh, etc.  Some of the sentences in that book are nearly unreadable -- not exactly bad, but inordinately tortuous.  I keep thinking, What was I thinking?  If they go on doing the series I guess I'll keep reading, but the sentences to come are, I think, even worse.