Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Audio book discovery

Normally, I amuse myself during the six-and-change hour drive home by listening to the radio or CDs, especially the Rolling Stones, Led Zeplin, Modest Mouse, The Trews, Buck 65, Sloan, and several mixed CDs. It can't be anything too mellow, which is why I've had to take Blue Rodeo, Tom Waits, Lucious Jackson, and Portishead out of rotation.

I don't do audio books well, partly because I'm too easily distracted and I'll either drive into a ditch or miss some crucial plot element. I'm also partly worried that the narrator will be monotonous and bore me to tears. When we were little, my sisters and I would listen to them, especially on long trips Down East. But now, they don't really do much for me.

A few years back, I tried to listen to Hoot on tape, but was unsuccessful. No offence to Chad Lowe, who was doing the reading, but it didn't interest me. I'd read the book and quite liked it, so maybe it was the fact that I could have read the book on my own in the time it took to listen to the first two (of six) tapes.

I was especially wary of books read by the author because, what if they don't sound like the voice I hear when I read their books? I'd be crushed with disappointment.

The reason this is significant is that the local library only had Augusten Burrough's Magical Thinking on audio CD, and I've been wanting to read it since before Christmas, when I heard a review of it on the CBC. The first book I read this year was Sellevision, and I liked it.

(On a completely tangentially related note, I never formally announced any interest/disinterest in joining the 50 Books Challenge - read fifty books in fifty weeks. I planned to announce my participation around week 20, when I will have read my 50 books way ahead of everyone else, and could childishly taunt the other participants with a hearty "Eat my dust, suckers!")

Well, it took me all the way home and a large part of the way back to here to listen to the whole thing, plus fifteen minutes while I was unpacking (The Ongoing History of New Music was on when I left home. I love me some Alan Cross!). And I enjoyed it!

Burroughs doesn't sound exactly like what I had imagined, but I wasn't upset by that. His voice was well-suited to the essays he read, which were snappy and biting and occasionally hilarious ("Beating Raoul" had me cracking up all the way through Barrie). Sometimes, they were even sad ("Mark the Shrink"). I could have read the book in a quarter of the time it took me to listen to them, but it wouldn't have been the same. (My favourites would have to be "Last First Date" and "Key Worst.")

I'm looking forward to the trip home at Easter, when I will be listening to David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.