Sunday, September 26, 2010

Listening to Books to Vancouver

Interview With the Vampire did little for me.  There was so much Sturm und Drang over so little substance.  But since it was so popular, I was curious.  It did reach something of a climax around tape nine of the ten.  But then it had to go and tie up loose ends well after it should have been over.

The narrator, Frank Muller, read in a heightened dramatic tone that was fine for the first hour, but continued throughout so when there was actual drama, his voice had no where to go.

The book may well speak to people who feel marginalized (as the Vampire felt in a normal world), but there was little or no enlightenment or identification for me.

But the next book - The Kalahari Typing School for Men - was a delight, made even better by the reader, Lisette Lecat, who pronounces the honorific Mma of the two lead women characters, Mma Ramotswe and Mma Mma Makutsi, in a way I'd never have gotten if I had read the book.  The first M is held long enough to sound almost like a stutter until I got used to it.

The narrative was light and spare and full of minor wisdoms and truths about life.  And I learned a bit about Botswana.

A disadvantage of taped books is it isn't as easy to find you a typically wry quote so you can savor the richness of this book.  A great antidote to the Vampires.

And then we got to All the Pretty Horses.  It was a bit hard to keep track of who was who on the first couple of sides of the tapes - but then it fell into a steady understated rhythm and was for me, easily, the strongest of the three books.  Two teenagers heading off into the world on horseback across the Rio Grand to make their fortunes.

I'm not excited about the title, though horses played a key role in the book.  

And Frank Muller - the narrator on the Vampire tape - is much more understated in this book and his accents sound right on the mark.  A wonderful book that won both U.S. National Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award.

With good books like these, the driving flies by. Though there is some cognitive disconnect as one sees one world while listening to a totally different world.

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