This post has been sitting in my “stewing” folder a while. Time to bring it out.
So…I was reading Neil Gaiman’s blog this morning and apparently he has recorded a new and unabridged audiobook of Neverwhere… I am a little bit wary of this, as I am a little bit wary of all audiobooks-read-by-the-author because reading aloud is hard to do properly and many people (myself included) do not manage it properly.
Say again? Reading aloud… is hard? Good thing no one told that to my mom when I was tiny. She must have have tirelessly worked through the obstacles, struggling to have the words on the paper transform into sound vibrations as she fought with her lungs, lips and tongue in a valiant effort to… you know… speak.
OK, I’m willing to admit that the author of this post probably didn’t mean to infer that reading out loud is difficult, and that he (or she) really meant to say that giving a proper vocal performance of the written word is not without its challenges. And I’d concur with that. But we’re not talking about piloting an F-14 here. Audiobooks do not, and should not, come with the label: Warning. This reading was performed by a trained professional under laboratory conditions. Do not try this at home or serious maiming may result. People have been reading aloud and performing for others for the past tens of thousands of years. Yes, I see the place for trained actors — voice or otherwise. Do they make it better? The certainly can. Does everyone possess the innate ability to effectively deliver spoken performances? Probably not. But to automatically discount the quality of work based on the lack of a pedigree… seems rather limiting.