I listen to quite a few audiobooks, almost always when stuck in the car on a long drive.
I think short stoires are the way to go. They can be made to fit your drive-time easier, and nobody bothers to abridge them. Abridgement of a work I actually want to read is unendurable both on audio or on the page.
Elliot Gould's readings of Chandler's short stories are wonderful. Red Wind never grows old.
--- On Tue, 8/12/08, Mark D. Nevins <email@example.com> wrote:
From: Mark D. Nevins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RARA-AVIS: CHASING THE DIME and audiobooks
Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 9:46 AM
Thanks for the feedback on Connelly, all; given the responses, I will keep THE POET on my to-read stack, and look forward to it.
Borderline off-topic: I wanted to note that I am not necessarily an aficionado of audiobooks, having listened to exactly 3 of them in my life. I enjoy the pleasures of reading too much to give it up for listening; that being said, I can see where audiobooks have some value, especially to people who have to drive a lot.
I did not realize CHASING THE DIME was abridged until I found the fine print (very fine) on the back of the box, though at only 6 hours total time I should have realized it was abridged. (I guess the rule with audiobooks is "assume it's abridged unless it says UNABRIDGED in large letters on the box"). That being said, and I admit this is unfair, I can't see from my listening how the book could have been appreciably more compelling in an unabridged form. (I am tempted to steal that line from Samuel Johnson regarding Milton's PARADISE LOST: "None ever wished it longer.") And, as I noted, I thought the reading was particularly good.
The other two books I have listened to, again both on long drives and in these cases unabridged, were:
- Stephen King, CELL: This is a book I likely would not have read, given that I'm not a big King fan (I do like his short stories, but I don't have the patience for what I perceive to be the value-to-length ratio in his novels; I'd rather read something Victorian if I'm committing to 400+ pages), but I enjoyed it, and it was especially well-read, including good (though not perfect to the ears of this native New Englander) alternating registers/accents for different characters.
- Orson Scott Card, ENDER'S GAME: I thought listening to this book was actually superb--and I was intrigued to note that, in a postscript narration from Card (who started out his career as a playwright, I am told), he argued that the novel is *better* listened to than read silently, and in fact he said he wrote the novel hoping people would read it aloud. This reading was done by an ensemble cast, and was almost more a performance than a reading.
Sorry to ramble on; I remain ambivalent about audiobooks, but expect I'll continue to listen to one or so a year, on those rare occasions when I have to take a long drive. If there are other opinions on audiobooks generally, or specific "good" audiobooks, I'd love to hear them. (Question for the purists: is the audiobook more "valid" if it's read by the author?)
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