Wednesday, May 14, 2014
New Adventures in Audiobooks
Audiobooks have become my new favorite thing in the past two months. Previous to this, my only experience of audiobooks was with my father in our 20-hour drive from Atlanta to Boston. My dad is a spy book fanatic. His desk is cluttered with library books by Vince Flynn, Robert Ludlum and Daniel Silva. Books with titles like, "The Icpress Files," "The Osterman Weekend" and "Transfer of Power." (Fun Activity: Read those book titles aloud in the most menacing voice you can muster. Fun, right?)
So before our drive, my father just sort of leisurely suggested that we should get the new Jack Jackson* audiobook entitled something like, "The Stalingrad Communiqué," you know, just to make the time go by faster. Lemme tell ya, that was one of the longest twenty hours of my life. All of these spy audiobooks (and for all I knew, all audiobooks) are narrated by gruff-voiced guys. When he had to voice the few women who showed up in the books, the narrator sounded so overly feminine that the thought crossed my mind that he was mocking the character...or that she was learning disabled or something. When the narrator hit the sex scene though, I thought my father was going to die of embarrassment. Suddenly dad was talking really loudly about how nice a Waffle House sign looked, and how, "These roads Meggie, these roads."
That was my experience with audiobooks. The ghost of Jack Palance narrating badly written sex scenes while my father yelled about infrastructure.
I rediscovered audiobooks, or discovered them in the proper form, by trying to show my support for a podcast I love called "Philosophize This," here's a link to it. It's a philosophy podcast done by some poor, stressed out man who just wants to quit his job and podcast philosophy full time. One week he was sponsored by Audible and he asked, to show our support, that we sign up for audible and get a free book download.
I meant to quit after the first one. I swear I did.
But the first one was so good!
It was "Bring Up The Bodies" by Hillary Mantel. The narrator, who was a man, was neither grizzled-voiced or demeaning to listen to. And the book! The book itself was magic. I would listen on my phone while I was in the bath, dreading having to put my head under water to rinse out my shampoo for fear of missing some wisdom bomb or cleverly-put phrase. I was actually relieved I didn't have cable as t.v. would cut into my listening time.
I think the whole thing was about eighteen hours long. I would listen in the bath, while I was cooking, while I was cleaning, while I was driving to Atlanta. I actively looked for long stretches of time where I could be by myself and listen. Of course I do this with regular books, but I was surprised that I wanted to do this with an audiobook.
I was sad when it was over.
My friend, the narrator, was gone. It was like adding insult to injury as this wonderful book had ended but now my narrator friend was gone too.
So, I found a new friend. My new friend is "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie and it is off the chain good. My new friend and I hang out in all the same spots my old friend and I used to hang out, only it's different this time. My new friend tells me about India and Bollywood and suicidal mistresses. My old friend talked about England, King Henry and Anne Boleyn. Equally good things to talk about but unlike my old friend, whose secrets I know, I'm looking forward to my new friend's great reveal. What secrets do you have, new friend. Maybe we just need a little more time together until you can tell me.
*I made this name up. Totally sounds like the name a spy novelists would have though