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It’s a process

At the beginning of our foray into the world of audio-books, I was concerned about the possibility of limiting interpretations of the text. Reading about Dicken’s audience and its reaction to his voicing of Sam Weller in Rubery’s piece, I saw the inkling of an issue posed by the medium: by providing a definitive voice through an audio ‘reading,’ a text risked losing aspects of the ambiguity that fosters criticism. It seemed rather monoglotic, privileging a select set of voices over the multiple ones an audience provides in solitary reading.

Now, with our projects coming to completion, I admit that this hesitancy was rather unfair. If anything, our work on audio-books only exposed the sheer vibrancy of language and ambiguity at play in a text. Consider my role as scrip preparer. Going through the novella to color-code individual character voices in order to aid recording, I realized that my task was consequently making the text’s internal dialogism more explicit. With each character voice symbolized by a color, I could simply glance through the text and understand how narrative voice was being challenged in dominance by noting how its symbolic blue was fragmenting into a rainbow of color – coincidentally in tandem with Bartleby’s increasing obstinateness. Sharing this script with my fellow group members, I saw the text further fragmented as dubbings were inserted so as to expose elements of humanity that contrasted with the automated recording we used as a base. Thus, not only could one see external challenges to narrative voice develop but internal alterations of the character could be visually manifested.

Of even greater interest was what the audio-book added to the text. An issue that impeded our work was deciding on how to ‘read’ our audio-book. Each group member had their own understanding of the text and we wanted to ensure that the project retained a collaborative nature that could accommodate this. However, as literary interpretation is a holistic phenomenon, we could not merely pick and choose which readings remained by mass agreement: the result would be schizophrenic. Rather, we had to decide on a format that allowed individual readings to prevail while also allowing them to yield to a holistic reading. That is, our individuals readings generated an alternate reading due to the demands of the audio-book itself.

This result reveals a flaw in my thinking about audio-books: I concentrated on the interpretation of the product, not the process. As in any collaborative activity, the audio-book involved a ‘circuit’ that incorporated multiple ideas and thoughts into the media artifact by sheer consequence of production. Having the opportunity to participate in this circuit, I feel as if my understanding of the authorial role, regardless of medium, has been altered. Where I considered the author as an ‘arranger’ of the language and ideas of his society, I now question whether he is better understood as a ‘negotiator’, developing techniques and forms to best accommodate all ideas that mediate through him.

Jenna’s Bartleby Story

The process of making the computer voiced Bartleby was frustrating, and perhaps rewarding for overcoming the frustration. Within our group we had differing interpretations of the text and therefore had to work to come up with a concept that satisfied us all. It seemed that we were all down with the using computer voices for the characters other than Bartleby as a metaphor for the machine of capitalism. However, some group members had more sympathy for the narrator than others. Through our meeting before class last week I felt that we were at an artistic impasse. While that was no fun, once we’d arrived at a solution, I felt a real thrill at having worked through issues.

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Study Questions for “The Storyteller”

Some questions to guide your reading/thinking on Benjamin’s formidable text for Thursday’s discussion:

  1. Early in the essay, Benjamin claims that, in the early 20thC, “It is as if something that seemed inalienable to us, the securest among our possessions, were taken from us: the ability to exchange experiences.” Why is this? What is it about modern life that makes storytelling more problematic than in the past?
  2. What are the two kinds of “experience” that feed into traditionally storytelling, according to Benjamin? How does Benjamin use this distinction to link, on the one hand, literary form and, on the other, labor? [n.b., in the original German, Benjamin distinguishes between Erlebnis and Erfahrung, which both often translate to “experience” in English]
  3. WB claims that the novel’s rise in the 18th-19th centuries is the “earliest symptom” of a process culminating in “decline of storytelling.” Why? I thought that novels are storytelling!
  4. What does WB make of the rise of “informational” writing, such as news articles? How do these new literary forms compare to traditional storytelling?
  5. Why, for Benjamin, is death so central to storytelling? What happens to the relationship between death and storytelling in modernity, with the rise of the novel?
  6. More German, folks! What is the difference between remembrance (Eingedenken) and reminiscence (Gedächtnis)? How do these categories map onto a) the deep historical currents WB is tracing between the “old days” and “modernity,” to speak very broadly, and b) the “story” and the “novel”?
  7. Near the end of the essay, Benjamin claims that the story and the novel are shaped in a fundamentally different way: what is the distinctive closure of each form? How does this mode of closure relate to a) WBs discussion of death throughout the essay and b) the distinctiveness of the novel as a genre?
  8. What are some questions we might raise about Benjamin’s argument in light of our study of the audiobook? In what ways does listening to an a-book edition of a recent novel on our phone while commuting to work square with Benjamin’s thesis, and in what ways might it force a revision of it?

Re-utilizing “Cumbersome Formats” of Literature

In thinking of our upcoming audiobook assignment, I was most struck by Mathew Rubery’s “Play it Again, Sam Weller: New Digital Audiobooks and Old Ways of Reading” reading for this week. Particularly, I am most interested in his notion of “cumbersome formats” (63) and how the notion of the audiobook has gained momentum with technological advances and the elimination of cassette and disk form audiobooks. Despite the small gains in the usage of audiobooks Rubery states that “… while relatively small in comparison with conventional book sales, (audiobooks) still account for a substantial number of readers as well as an upward trajectory. As the number of overal readers continues to decline, audiobook use is among the minority of reading continues to decline, audiobook use is among the minority of reading practices found to be increasing general literacy.” (63) It is fascinating to think that the increase of audiobook use comes down to more about convenience in an advancing technological world, versus reshaping how literature is absorbed or documented. Rubery describes the Victorian era ideal of the novel as a “..’talking book’, capable of preserving the voices of eminent Victorians” which now seems so far-fetched to the current reality of audiobook use. When I imagine the average person purchasing an audiobook off their phone I imagine it as an alternative to having to swipe page by page while commuting on the train/bus and listening to the book to tune out the hectic noises of daily life. In college, any audiobook I may have purchased was also out of more convenience or frankly laziness to to want to have a more passive experience of absorbing knowledge that required minimal following of texts on a line by line basis.

This generalized notion of the purpose of the audiobook however, goes entirely against my own exposure to audiobooks during my adolescence.  This group assignment has been a wonderful opportunity to re-engage with a series of audiobooks my mother created with me about 19 years ago of The Royal Raven by Hans Wilhem and The House on the Hill by Christin Couture, at around the age of 6 when I was learning how to read. With only a cassette player, tapes, and a recorder my mother thought it would be a sort of time-capsule/motivating project to inspire me to read knowing that my words would be documented to listen back to in adulthood. I’d like to say that I was able to have that moment of nostalgia and self-reflection once I finally found those tapes in my childhood things and was met with a very serious problem. I had no cassette player to listen to my audiobooks! I can’t quite express the disappointment in being so excited to listen to your childhood self and be denied it through lack of access to analog technology. I never realized how I took these forms of tools for granted. I’d like to think that platforming these audiobooks into more modern forms of technology to avoid this problem would be ideal, but now I find myself conflicted. When I think of Eurocentric models of learning like the Victorian era, my first response is to turn away and look instead to the indigenous values of oral tradition and preservation of knowledge through the passing down of ancestors. The form in which my mother chose to engage me with my imagination through reading became a bonding experience in which not only my reading skills improved, but my general sense of self was instilled through an oral tradition passed on through ancestral generations. In summary I’m conflicted as to how modern technology is a force moving us away from oral tradition or more towards it?

Listening(!) to Poetry

Hello everyone! So I wanted to use this week’s blog to address a point made by Matthew Rubery in his journal Play It Again, Sam Weller: New Digital Audio Books and New Ways of Reading that I consider being key in how we read literature across multiple parts of the world. To preface my discussion, Rubery wrote the following:

“Although it would be easy to overstate the degree to which technology changes the way we communicate, there is nevertheless compelling evidence of its influence over the way people read that should not go unheard.25 Advances in audio technology have the potential to change the way we think about reading practices for two reasons. The first is that digital audio will turn more readers into listeners.” (Rubery 64)

That last sentence is key here, “The first is that digital audio will turn more readers into listeners” (Rubery 64). When we read, it is very difficult to pick up how something is supposed to sound. Thus, we may miss the point intended entirely. The context behind the things we say is what drives how we say it and the connotation of what we’re expressing. That brings me to the audiobook I have chosen to present to you all in class today:

The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe (read by Tom O’Bedlam)

An extraordinarily difficult poem to read, mostly because it’s hard to to represent the repetition of the words meaningfully – especially “Bells” I imagine t…

“The Bells,” a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, at first glance is a rather simplistic piece. As readers, we often just read through it or read it how we think it is supposed to be read. Especially for those of us who do not directly study English literature. However, upon taking a second look, and reading the poem out loud or having someone else read it to you, we can discover some unique characteristics of the piece before us. In each stanza of “The Bells,” Poe starts to describe another type of bell, and when reading to yourself it seems like a pretty flat piece, but when you bring audio tools into it you realize that with each stanza there exists a switch of mood and sound.

During the first stanza, Poe describes the experiences associated with silver bells. We all know that to be Christmas time, the holiday season. This stanza utilizes language in a way that portrays a sense of happiness, jolliness if you will. There are specific influxes in your voice when reading the language with the associated cheerful emotion that portrays the sound intended. Then he moves onto talking about golden bells, which we associate with weddings (also associated with wealth and love in general). This stanza uses calmness as a tool, a smooth and happy block of text symbolizing the long-term content that marriage/love brings us as humans. Finally, the brazen (bronze) bells, he uses them to create a sense of fear. There exists a lot of urgency in this stanza that strikes discomfort in the listener when reading how it was intended to be read. Rubery’s point was that listening is starkly different from just reading a text. It also helps to bring out the brilliance of the author. This especially applies when reading literature from other regions. Rhyme, for example, can only sometimes be deciphered when reading in a specific accent. For example, a New Yorker may not understand the audio cues of a poem written in Scotland.

Now, how can we do all of this sound analysis when there are situations where audiobooks/readings are unavailable? Lucky for us, there are digital tools out there being further developed to map these audio influxes in literature. Below I am attaching a screenshot of the tool Poemage, developed by the University of Utah, which is an incredible tool that takes the uploaded piece and shows you how each word is supposed to sound and where it overlaps with other words:

Unfortunately, the University of Utah took the download link down while they do some updates, so I cannot show you guys the extent of the tool. I used it back in late 2016 and it has only improved since. All in all, Rubery drew a line between reading and listening, and I agree. They both stimulate different parts of the brain simultaneously in order to further our understanding of literature and assisting with decoding the intention of the author (or a variation of the author’s intention).

Humanizing and Dehumanizing Red Peter the Ape

“A Report for an Academy” (1917) by Franz Kafka is a short story told by Red Peter, an ape who was captured on Africa’s Gold Coast (now Ghana) and shipped to Europe, and who learned to act like a human to escape captivity. Red Peter tells the story of his transformation from ape to human to a scientific academy in an undetermined European city, observing that it was only when he mastered human language that he was able to secure a way out of his cage on the ship. He puts a seal of sorts on his humanization by writing his story and telling it aloud to a sophisticated audience. This rhetorical situation makes “A Report for an Academy” an intriguing audiobook, and the voice of Martin Reyto reading Ian Johnston’s unabridged translation of Kafka’s short story for Librivox brings Red Peter close.

Although Librivox does not categorize this audiobook as “Dramatized Reading,” Reyto throws himself into his role, and I imagine Red Peter clad in a red satin dressing gown (he has become a music hall star) seated in his heavily upholstered apartment (I wonder if Reyto recorded his voice in a closet) deep in the ancient streets of Vienna or Prague, sheltered from the inclement weather, drinking a strong cordial and perhaps smoking a cigar. At first it was not easy to reconcile my idea of Red Peter with Reyto’s audiobook. For one, I thought Red Peter was younger because he says that he was captured five years before, and Reyto’s voice is clearly the voice of an older man. Secondly, I did not imagine Red Peter so weary. My first impulse was to reject Reyto’s reading of “Report for an Academy” because it seemed counter to how I had imagined the tale, but I listened on and as I did, Red Peter changed in my mind. Reyto’s reading is convincing; his cadence is fittingly mournful, and the harrowing last two sentences of the second to last paragraph are delivered with an awareness of the horror they admit:

When I come home late at night from banquets, from scientific societies, or from social gatherings in someone’s home, a small half-trained female chimpanzee is waiting for me, and I take my pleasure with her the way apes do. During the day I don’t want to see her, for she has in her gaze the madness of a bewildered trained animal. I’m the only one who recognizes that, and I cannot bear it. (Franz Kafka, “A Report for an Academy”)

The sound quality of Reyto’s recording is excellent. There is no echo, and no sound of breathing or background noise (the absence of background noise is good for this story; other stories would be better with background noise). Altogether, listening to this audiobook was not unpleasant but for now, I find that listening to a novel or short story requires more effort than reading it would do. However, humans are adaptable creatures and I trust through practice listening gets easier.

Note: as I explored Librivox in search of an audiobook I wanted to write this blog post on, I was impressed with the great variety of recording qualities, voices and styles. To be honest, most of the audiobooks I started listening to bothered me in one way or another, but one that struck me as an inspiring model – I find I like to hear a variety of narrators – is Wuthering Heights (version 3 dramatic reading).

The Antique Audiobook; Capote on Vinyl

I approached finding my audiobook in the wild by thinking about the relationship of the author’s voice to a work of fiction. The comparison of the audible voice, versus the stylistic written voice seemed like it could have a pushing and pulling effects in the perception of a story. I immediately thought of Truman Capote, whose voice is famously distinct and whose style is distinctly rich in description which has the effect, to me of being equally tight and intimate, as it is ethnographic and isolated. I chose to find a recording of him reading any of his short stories, or an excerpt from a novel. I’ve read a lot of his work, but not recently, so I thought that any story would be a good example of this performance. I searched online for a recording of him reading his short story “A Christmas Memory,” and found a video on Youtube of the recording, which was originally published on vinyl in 1959. This them really set me out into the wild as I tried to instead find a physical copy of it to play on my record player at home. The album cost $60 on Amazon, and would not arrive until September 17th so that wouldn’t work; I called every record store in New York and notable ones outside (but nearby) the city with no luck. I called the New York Public Library who advised me on the proper search terms to locate it in their archives; they had 2 copies, available to listen to at the Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

At the library I was hoping to be able to sit with a record player to have the physical interaction of setting up the record, flipping it to the B-side, etc. but they have it set up where they hook you up to a computer and a person “in the basement” (the librarian told me specifically they were in the basement), plays it on the record player down there. This added a new component to the physicality of this audio, because it added a new author and participant to the mix. I was not listening to the audiobook alone, but through the discernment and acuity of an incognito librarian in a basement somewhere under me. I was especially aware of this while waiting for the story to begin playing, and even more-so when I waited for this person—who played the roles of technician, co-listener with me, and co-author with Capote—to flip to the B side of the track to play the second half of the story. This interruption gave me a time that I would not have given for myself to contemplate the story so far, which would not have existed with a typical audiobook playing all the way through. It also made me cognizant of what control Capote would have had over where this break occurred: it was at the end of paragraph and sentence, but I wonder if he made the decision of which paragraph to flip the record on, how much space or leeway there was on each side of the track for him to have a choice in this decision or if it was purely dictated by the size of the sides. This was something I would have been interested to make an assessment on based on the appearance of the vinyl, but alas I was not allowed access to it.

As they would not give me the record, I had to make a special request to see the sleeve. This actually proved an instrumental tool in my reading of the audio book. The front of the sleeve had artwork by the artist Gray Foy, who I learned was a prominent and widely respected surrealist artist of the 20th century, while the middle and back of the sleeve has the entire story printed on it. Both of these visuals created a physical space upon which to navigate the story as I listened to it, creating a physical space much closer to a book than the typical audiobook.  But even the tangible flatness of a record sleeve gave a strange two-dimensional effect to a story which when traditionally printed is around 40 pages.

 

Listening to the audio presented the questions I expected to encounter entering the project: I was confronted with Capote’s unique sound and inflections, where he stumbled on words, missed (or skipped) sentences, changed his voice, even slightly, to match his conception of the characters. These affected the story by giving me a hyper-truthful understanding of his intentions of the story; however, it disrupted my reading (or, rather, listening) by giving me little room to impose my own interpretations. There was also symphonic music by Irving Joseph that sandwiched Capote’s reading of the text, a music that also imposed a mood and feeling onto my perception of the text. Ambient noise such as the fuzziness from the record player which came through on my head phones, the occasional quiet scratch and scrape, as well as the not-completely-noiseless pause when the record was flipped which was a silence filled with ultra-low, ambient bumps and “woosh” sounds. They made me aware of my own context, as well as the age and antiquated novelty of the record itself (this copy was 59 years old.) On a text that is all about the prevalence of memory, the participation with time and space in reading it, as well as in what most people of my generation would call an old-fashioned environment to listen to an audio book (the library).

I ended out finding that the typical questions of the effects of sound on a text in the audiobook was a lot less interesting to me than the odd physicality of the audiobook on vinyl. The record itself, which is made of its own language and modes of inscription and form, and the way they re-created the experience of the traditionally written text, next to the sleeve with the text written out invented a unique space and an unconventional audiobook experience. It reaffirmed a certain level of grounding in the technology and act of inscription onto a surface that texts, and this text especially, cannot seem to escape, and forced my participation with it.

 

Bartleby, new and oldish

You might enjoy an early 2000s Bartleby hypertext edition that I’ve rediscovered via the Internet Archive’s invaluable Wayback Machine. It starts with Bartleby’s blank wall and goes from there: cute, no?

Pretty cool version of Bartleby edited by a Slate writer, Andrew Kahn, last year. It’s richly illustrated and contains a wide range of notes that provide historical context and a sense of some of the diversity of critical opinions on the text over the years since its publication. And there’s even an audiobook version on the site for good measure.

As such, it also points towards our second collaborative project together, in which we’ll be doing something similar (though with much lower production values!) with Benito Cereno, so as you check it out, think about what Kahn did to make this work. Or not.

Finally, although it sometimes seems like ancient history, Bartleby played a starring role in the Occupy Wall Street movement in and around Zuccotti Park in 2012. I’ve collated a few pieces from that time that capture the flavor of the way Bartleby haunted that space and that time:

  • Jonathan Greenberg riffs on the use of “occupy” and cognate concepts like self-possession, property, and vocation in Melville’s text, in Zuccotti, and on campuses.
  • Lauren Klein thinks about the politics of language in both Melville’s text and the movement.
  • Jac Asher examines the way Bartleby dismantles the logic of homosociality that underpins Wall Street from within.

Multi-modal reading

I had not previously been aware that public readings of entire novels had taken place during the age of the Victorians.  It did not occur to me, as someone who has been accustomed to the solitary enjoyment of reading (a la Rubery’s explanation of today’s literary scholarship on p. 60), that public reading would be a fashion.  After reading “Play It Again, Sam Weller: New Digital Audiobooks and Old Ways of Reading” it seems to be an obvious pastime and one that I would most likely enjoy being an audience member of.  I know that I love reading with my nieces and nephews as they learn to be independent readers, but it’s so far been a tradition that ends when they do establish their ability to read on their own.

It also makes sense to me now, that the modern day audiobook has evolved from the practice of reading aloud in audiences, and as Rubery points out that it’s possible the “audiobook is the latest step in the long process of commodifying literature, this development presents us with an opportunity to reflect on how our own attitudes toward reading aloud have evolved since a nineteenth-century inventor first imagined a ‘talking book’…” (59).  Until the requirement for this course to listen to an audiobook, I hadn’t thought about reading/listening to a book in that way seriously in quite a while.  I’d seen the many advertisements for Audible.com and get occasional emails from Amazon about my first free audiobook, but music and podcasts are what I listen to today, not books.  Nonetheless, I do fondly remember a long car ride to Ohio from New York for a friend’s wedding many years ago where the 8 CDs required to listen to The Memory Keeper’s Daughter kept me occupied (I found the book on clearance in Barnes & Noble which I remember thinking that it was so deeply discounted because no one listened to books, they read them!).  But here I am, after this assignment, newly enamored with the format and want to ask my family if they’ll indulge me in establishing a read aloud tradition for us.  I also want to suggest to the director of the library where I work that we have a series of events around the reading of various literary titles available in our library.

What has me so excited about the audiobook (much like Thomas Edison’s excitement over the possibilities of his invention of phonograph) is the feeling that this could be an entertaining endeavor with my family (Rubery 62).  I am looking forward to learning more about the process of creating audiobooks in the next weeks of class.

When deciding what to listen to this week, I considered several things:

  • What platform would I use?  I looked at Audible (through Amazon), Librivox, and finally the NYPL’s mobile app: Libby (which is what I ended up choosing from as I didn’t want to have to pay for the book)
  • How much time did I have to listen to the book?  I wanted to choose a title I’d be able to complete by class, but saw that many books took hours to read.  At first, I was going to choose an abridged Mansfield Park from the BBC that ran at 2 hours, but I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted an abridged version, despite the all star cast of Benedict Cumberbatch, Felicity Jones, and David Tennant.  What I ended up choosing was the unabridged version of Between the World and Me, authored and read by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I was familiar with Mansfield Park, but had failed to complete the reading of Between the World and Me, so I took the opportunity to complete it.
  • I was concerned with who was reading the book.  Librivox is read by volunteers and a famous actress had read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, but I was interested in hearing the author read their own work to me (like Dickens had done many years before).

Thus, I decided on a book read by its author and provided to me free of charge that I could complete in the allotted time for the assignment.  Having read the first section of the book over a year ago, I knew that the author was writing this book as a letter to his adolescent son, but that it was also meant for a greater audience.  It was very personal, and at times I felt as if I had no right to be listening in, but at other times, I felt like this was a book (letter) that everyone in America must read/hear.  Rubery cites Camlot’s study and writes that “the sound of the audio book inhibits our own imagination by performing our potential imagining of the text’s voice for us” and continues “listeners…complain about how unsettling it can be to find a narrator’s voice at odds with their own ideas of how that voice should sound” (72-73).  Yet, for this book, I believe that Ta-Nehisi Coates is the only person qualified to read this book aloud to an audience.  Perhaps it’s the title I chose, that only has one voice, and it’s the author’s innermost personal thoughts, and it’s not a made up story.  Had I chosen a work of fiction, with many characters, Rubery’s statements on the sounds of the readers’ voices might make more sense.  Rubery goes onto describe how “central voice is as a source of meaning” and I do think I’m better able to understand Coates’ book after having had him read it to me (74).

To conclude, we briefly discussed in class last week the idea of the “sage on the stage” and I want to argue that there are times where that model is appropriate in the classroom.  To reiterate, I feel I have a better understanding of Coates’ arguments after having it read to me, much like how I feel after attending a good lecture, but I also think that, as Rubery introduces, that a “multimedia approach” to literature is the “lingua franca” of students today (68).  He goes on: “[t]his fluency with technology stems from years of downloading entertainment, filming with digital cameras, and communicating through mobile phones.  Students have little trouble understanding how these devices shape their communication – the way in which the medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan famously put it…” (68).  Reading in a multi-modal fashion (and using technology in a meaningful and useful way) will get students (and hopefully my nieces and nephews, too) to think about literature (and reading, more generally) in new and different ways that opens up the possibilities for interpretations, discourse, and learning in, and outside of, the classroom.

More Than Zero Audio

For this assignment, I read/listened to Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. I don’t have much experience with audiobooks, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from trying it out, other than the obvious. However, I’ve found that I really enjoy “a-books” and that I am able to visualize the story much differently in my head when listening to the words as opposed to reading them with my eyes out of a book.

The production values are rather flawless in my audiobook. The voice actor (Christian Rummel) has many other books available on Audible and when I Googled him I learned he is a professional actor, namely a voice actor for video games like Call of Duty. As I listened, I kept thinking how if it were me narrating, I would surely breathe through my nose too hard or cough or anything of the sort without realizing, however this voice professional did not. So obviously, there was some scrupulous editing in the background because there is zero percent chance he was able to read through the entire novel so flawlessly.

The style was my favorite part. He very actively did “voice characterization,” bringing to life the very dry, lax subtlety of the story in a very dynamic way. His voice would change believably between characters of the same or different gender. Even though that while “occasionally readers are themselves celebrities (for example, James Mason or Jeremy Irons reading Lolita) whose name recognition promises to boost sales [66],” the voice actor in this case is very dedicated to working almost exclusively with the audiobook medium and takes his work very seriously. While it will probably never bring him fame, it is funny that I never thought of reading audiobooks as a profession worth pursuing, but I am really impressed with what I heard in this book in terms of the scope of this blog’s requirements.

The conversational nature of the book is not lost within this audiobook, to say the least. All the while, all the actor’s different voices would stay consistent with each character throughout the book, and apparently he has a very convincing and impressive registry of individual Californian voices/accents. The characters sounded like I’d imagine the author imagined them. Everyone is so lost in this story, so detached, and the voice actor really and truly personifies this.

I don’t have the text nearby, so I couldn’t compare if every word is the same, but from what I remember when I read this book, it is not abridged or changed from the original. The author writes in a very lucid, conversational way and I would imagine it would have been a good experience for the actor bringing the audio of this book to life.

As far as what I experienced, I didn’t realize I would be so gripped to listen. It really drew in my attention more than I thought it would. I first imagined I would be easily distracted but this was not the case at all. It was very easy to get caught up in imagining the playout of scenes of the novel in my head as I listened. Perhaps even more so than when I read without audio. Definitely food for thought about the medium as a whole. If I could enjoy literature even more than I already do by tweaking how I obtain the narrative, then sign me up.