Saturday, August 11, 2007

Words and music

At last ... I'm up to those titles that are currently underway. I'm listening to The New Policeman, a book I read (with my eyes ... do I have to say that?) just a few months ago. When I read the book I thought that it was perfect for audio (and I said so on March 20), as each chapter ended with a brief musical score. The title of the music was often closely related to the plot developments in the chapter. How great, I thought, to be able to hear the musical interludes while listening to the story.

One of my colleagues listened to The New Policemen and professed that the music seriously distracted her from the story. It was one of those titles that she thought shouldn't be nominated, but she wanted someone else to listen for a second opinion. I volunteered, although in retrospect, perhaps I wasn't the best candidate for this job. After all, I knew the story and was expecting the music.

[Here we could have a discussion about whether reading a book before listening to it is a good -- or not a good -- idea. I mostly hate re-reading anything, no matter the form, but -- because of our committee assignment plan -- I have listened to several titles this year that I'd already read. In the case of this novel, I'm not minding the second visit, as I am enjoying the many clues that I pretty much read right over during the first pass. ]

I'm not liking the audio version, but it's got nothing to do with the music. The musical interludes are delightful as a matter of fact. As is the narrator's lilting Irish accent. So much atmosphere. But the narrator's voice is high to begin with, and her favorite vocal technique to delineate between characters is to just get higher in register. Nearly everybody sounds like they're eight years old and this -- coupled with the accent and the speed of delivery -- makes it much harder to distinguish what they are actually saying. I find I'm doing that audiobook thing where you keep thinking about one sentence (What was that name? Why did s/he do that?), and then miss the next four sentences because you're still mulling over the first one. Following the plot isn't a problem, because I know the outcome of this story, but I can't help thinking that this would be frustrating for a reader who's coming to the story fresh.

I generally do like it when Recorded Books just buys an already existing audiobook from a British publisher (like Soul Eater), rather than recording the book again. However, this audio title might just be too foreign. Unlike Fanboy, though, we can't keep this title on the shelves, in any format. What's up with that?

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