Wednesday, March 14, 2007


It's so easy to find flaws in an audiobook. We've been having some discussions about various pronunciations lately:
  • Katana (which my teen friend taking Japanese tells me is pronounced with stress on the first syllable). Interestingly, katana has appeared in three titles that I've listened to: The Black Tattoo, House of the Red Fish and Samurai Shortstop. Only in Red Fish is it pronounced correctly.
  • Penchant
  • Primer (as in the reading book)
We've become quite adept at interpreting the symbols in the OED. I can't reproduce it here, the blogging software eliminates the symbols when I copy, but katana looks sort of like this: k - upside down e - t - a - capital I with a break in the middle - n - another upside down e.
According to our guidelines, all words in an audiobook must be pronounced correctly. A favorite title of ours last year, B for Buster, was eliminated from consideration because the reader did not pronounce magneto correctly, even though he was consistent in his error. Also last year, we eliminated To Kill a Mockingbird because Sissy Spacek pronounced gavel as gravel one time! There are other instances I'm sure that we don't catch, although from our emailed discussions so far, we've become quite vigilant. Because -- like anything -- it's easier to just be able to drop something for a concrete reason.
We can also get pretty personal: I've got a beef right now with a regular audiobook narrator whose sing-songy style I just can't stand (she's going to remain nameless for awhile). I know it'll be tricky for me to maintain an open mind on her stuff.
But I'm trying to give another narrator a second chance right now. Andy Paris narrates two titles we're considering this year: Rash by Pete Hautman and Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Maas. I listened to the former last year and am listening to Jeremy Fink right now. Paris does a great job as a teenaged boy -- his voice offers a nice combination of youthfulness and wiseassed innocence. But I dissed Rash last year because he [gasp] has the habit [gasp] of inhaling loudly [gasp] at the beginning of seemingly every sentence, paragraph, chapter, etc. It drove me crazy.
However, maybe someone has spoken to him about this habit, because so far in Jeremy Fink the audible inhales (while still present) aren't nearly as distracting. So, I'm enjoying this title about a very young almost-13-year-old (more on that later) whose dead father has left him a mysterious locked box labeled 'the meaning of life' to be opened on his 13th birthday. (Hint: I think it's going to be one of those novels where the journey to find the keys is actually the meaning of life. Ya think?) This little mystery is sustaining my interest.
Anyway, I'm having difficulties on another level: Jeremy has been living all his life in an apartment in Manhattan with a working mother and he's never been on public transportation by himself. What's with that? As a former Manhattanite, it's sticking in my craw. On a more professional level, it brings up the too young question. Will teens want to read about this naive and protected kid?

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