Friday, March 22, 2013

The Narrator: A Book Killer


A few years back I tried to listen to "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, and I almost died. The narrator, or reader, or speaker, or whatever you call him, didn't just get under my skin, mind you. He ripped it off.

If you're not familiar with the book, there's only two characters: a boy and a father. The narrator, when he spoke as the father, vibrated the speakers with his utmost deepest delivery. He garbled a throaty voice that gurgled the bass in my car speakers.

It was dreadful.

The narrator's normal voice was fine as he read through the exposition, but the minute there was dialogue, and there was plenty of it, my soul ached and my ears burned with the narrator's unnecessary resonance. And don't even get me started about his tone when he read the son's parts. It was one octave higher, and it wilted dandelions and made sea lions howl.

After that, I ripped the CD out and frisbee'd it out the window, vowing to just read the stupid book like someone from the 1800's, instead.

That was probably my first audiobook fail.

Since then, I've begun to learn that, like movies and books, there are good and bad narrators -- and we have no clue why those people are working in the industry.

Since I have a little bit of a commute to work, it makes sense to listen to books. I discovered this great medium when I, for the first time ever, listened and 'read' "To Kill A Mockingbird." Sissy Spacek read the book, and it was heaven. I was sold. All narrators will be great. No narrator can do a disservice to a novel.

(I listened to "The Road" after "To Kill A Mockingbird" and you already know how I feel about that.)

It hasn't stopped me from loading an audiobook onto my phone via my library. Lately, when my ears come across a narrator that is less than satisfactory, I power through. Who cares if the reader has a lisp, I'm actually getting some books knocked off my Goodreads list.

And people, it's all about the Goodreads list.

But the latest book I listened to, "Dracula," was in trouble. I could've been done with it a couple weeks ago, but I was horrified, and not because the book is scary. I wanted to finish the book, but the narrator's impersonation of the Dutchman Van Helsing brought me to my knees.

I don't know who the narrator was, but I hope to never meet him again. He ruined the book.

Well, Bram Stoker ruined it himself...but the narrator didn't help.