The Secret Life of the Audiobook Star
#1  tubemonkey 11-16-2019, 11:38 AM
'Your throat hurts. Your brain hurts': the secret life of the audiobook star

Here's an interesting article about narrators:

As the business booms, narrators talk tricky accents, lonely shifts and tackling 100 pages a day

The author Bill Bryson is sitting before a lectern in Audible’s London headquarters, narrating his latest book, a disquisition on human biology called The Body: A Guide For Occupants. Seen through the window of the recording booth, Bryson’s face is largely obscured by the microphone in front of him, but his voice is clear and measured. On the other side of the glass, Bryson’s producer follows the text on an iPad, adding cryptic marks to the margins with a stylus.

Bryson makes steady progress until he runs into the word glomerulonephritis, which he can’t get his tongue around. He backs up to the beginning of the sentence, as if preparing to charge at a thicket, but when he reaches the word it defeats him again. “Fucking hell,” he says, under his breath.

Bryson’s audiobook experience goes back 20 years, when he was living in New Hampshire and the nearest recording studio was in the neighbouring state of Vermont. “Now I’ve probably worked with five or six producers,” he says, “and they’re all really kind, and they’re always very encouraging, but I can’t help feel that I should be better at this, that I should be able to pronounce the words in my own book.” Does he not realise by now that when he commits a word like glomerulonephritis to print, he will eventually have to record it? “You would think so, but no,” he says. “You know what it’s like when you’re writing – you don’t think about anything, really, except trying to get words right to yourself on the page.”


#2  CRussel 11-16-2019, 02:28 PM
I read this earlier today, and highly recommend it.


#3  issybird 11-16-2019, 02:56 PM
Well, I've got two off the cuff responses:

Bryson is a dreadful narrator; he is most assuredly not an exception to the rule that authors should write and leave the narration to the pros.

Uh, it's not as if there were no recording facilities in the entire state of New Hampshire. Bryson lived in Hanover. You can walk across the state line (on a bridge) to Vermont from Hanover; it's on the border. The article makes it sound like an overland journey, up hill and down dale, to get to Vermont from Bryson's location, when it fact it was just that the Vermont facility was closest. New England states are small! I can take in three just doing my errands.

#4  CRussel 11-16-2019, 04:09 PM
I'm not as negative as you are about Bryson, but I do wish he'd let a professional do it.

#5  pwalker8 11-17-2019, 04:39 AM
I don't think that Bill Bryson is all that bad. There is a certain style of book where having the author read it works. Simon Winchester is another author who narrates his own books. I really like him reading his own books. Both Bryson and Winchester write books where it's basically the author having a conversation with the reader.

An interesting article. I agree with what one of the voice actors said in the article, audiobook narration really is a unique skill and talent set.

#6  SeaBookGuy 11-19-2019, 04:14 PM
Quote issybird
Bryson is a dreadful narrator; he is most assuredly not an exception to the rule that authors should write and leave the narration to the pros.
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