Some of the most pleasant interactions I’ve ever had with other human beings is from reading to them or vice versa. It’s a strangely intimate activity. That’s why I’m interested in professional audio book narration, through the headphones it feels like you’re having a one-sided one-on-one with a stranger, yet unlike podcasts or resonating music, you know you’ll be listening for the long haul. Written content aside, the narrator has the difficult responsibility of maintaining an immersive performance for potentially dozens of hours.
Listening to the books of Lemony Snicket as a kid, I was always baffled at the idea of someone reading aloud for 8 hours straight. You never even hear the narrator break to take a leak or a sip of coffee, it’s inhuman. I looked up a tutorial and the youtube guy, Sean Pratt, was saying “anyone even thinking about taking up audio book narration should spend 1-2 hours each day reading aloud in their closet for the next two weeks.” Down in Tim’s underground man-cave, I spent a long fortnight reading 3 chapters of Don Quixote aloud each day. Despite the lack of light, the cockroaches, Cheetos packets and sharp anime figurines, I’d say that reading aloud was definitely more enjoyable than reading silent – even if I did breathe in a dangerous amount of asbestos while doing so.
Words by Rainy Colbert. Art by Ben Yaxley.
Originally published in Pelican Magazine Issue one 2017.