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October/November 2012

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Too bad nobody told all this to Joel Stein, the Time magazine columnist. His memoir, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, is probably very clever and funny, but I found it hard to tell because of Stein's rapid atonal narration. What makes an effective audiobook narration is somewhat elusive. It's less than full-blown acting and much more than everyday conversation. Media Staff's Maybrook calls it good storytelling, akin to someone telling ghost stories around a campfire. "It's a different skill," says 25-year veteran producer-director Linda Korn, who has more than 1,200 audiobooks to her credit. "With fiction, you're painting a picture with words. You want the narrator's voice to do that but also to be secondary, to get out of the way, to disappear. An actor, on the other hand, is trained to be very present. The wrong reader can do a lot of damage." You have to understand the music of writing. Narrating is more like playing an instrument than acting. "You have to understand the music of the writing," says the multifaceted actress and author Marilu Henner, whose latest book, Total Memory Makeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future, is one of four she's written and recorded for Simon & Schuster and Harper Audio. "Narrating is more like playing an instrument than acting. You have to know where the accent is in the sentence and which word is important. A list of tips in a how-to book has a different rhythm than a dream-like memory or a funny story or a sexy sequence." Makes sense—unless, of course, you're musically tone-deaf. So, Ms. or Mr. Writer, you may be hot stuff on the bestseller lists with approval over who does your audiobook narration, but do yourself a favor: If a producer starts talking about the difficulties of audiobook recording, he or she is probably telling you to keep your voice on the page, not on the CD. Six Author-Read Audios Worth a Listen RATHER OUTSPOKEN Written & read by Dan Rather Hachette Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD , DD AudioGO Library Ed.: CD , MP3 TOTAL MEMORY MAKEOVER Written & read by Marilu Henner Simon & Schuster Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD , DD BOSSYPANTS Written & read by Tina Fey Hachette Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD , DD AudioGO Library Ed.: CD AN ELEPHANT TO HOLLYWOOD Written & read by Michael Caine Macmillan Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD MY HAPPY DAYS IN HOLLYWOOD Written & read by Garry Marshall Random House Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD , DD Books on Tape Library Ed.: CD , DD WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD Written & read by Jerry Weintraub Hachette Audio Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD , DD October/November 2012 s 13

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