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Jonathan Cecil

Sunday December 4th, 2011 in Audio books, narrators | No Comments »

Jonathan Cecil, actor and narrator of more than forty PG Wodehouse audio books, died in September.

Cecil was a fantastic narrator, probably my favorite ever. A lot of Wodehouse’s humour, particular in the Jeeves books, comes from his unnecessarily complicated sentences. It takes a lot of skill to articulate these sentences so that the humour comes out and Cecil was brilliant at it. He was also able to do voices for idiotic characters without making any of them annoying, which is rare.

I first listened to a Jeeves book narrated by Jonathan Cecil when I was in Grade Six, and I’m sure it was partly due to his brilliant narration that I became a Wodehouse fan. Cecil’s voice is synonymous with the Jeeves and Bertie books for me. When I read them I will always hear his voice.


Wednesday March 23rd, 2011 in Audio books, narrators | No Comments »

I’ve just finished Death at Victoria Dock, a Phyrne Fisher mystery. In my last post I mentioned that I find Phyrne Fisher audio books extremely reliable. A bonus with this one was a recorded conversation between Kerry Greenwood (the author) and Stephanie Daniel (the narrator).

Stephanie Daniel’s voice in conversation was very different from her voice as narrator. Daniel also mentioned that she used her “real voice” as the character of the nun. I’d previously assumed that narrators only put on voices for the characters’ dialogue, not for the narration bits.

I now realise that Daniel would sound a bit weird speaking like this all the time. If I was chatting to her about an every day topic like the price of milk or Ricky Nixon’s disgraceful hair and conduct I would quickly get tired of her slow sentences and perfect diction. She’s a pro.

Questions answered

Tuesday March 15th, 2011 in Audio books, narrators, Young Adult | No Comments »

I finished Joel and Cat set the Story Straight last night while making a cardamon slice. The book is about a girl and boy who frickin’ hate each other and have to write a tandem story together for English. Nick Earls writes and narrates Joel, Rebecca Sparrow writes and narrates Cat and the book alternates perspectives each chapter.

Last week I said I was intrigued by the writing process between Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow but was holding out on discovering more until I’d heard the whole thing. Well, the moment I finished the final disk I minimised the slice recipe and opened a new browser window, Googling like a mad thing.

Soon, all of my questions were answered with most of them covered by this interview.

To sum up, in real life Earls and Sparrow are not on together and they never frickin’ hated each other. So the life cunningly disguised as art ingeniously impersonating life masquerading as art hiding under a flowerpot thing is confined to the tandem story writing, not to the actual plot.

Anyway, this was probably the most enjoyable audio book I’ve listened to all year. Was funny and the authors were very good narrators.

World Read Aloud Day

Thursday March 10th, 2011 in narrators | No Comments »

Dash it! Wednesday 9 May was World Read Aloud Day and I missed it! I would have totally gotten behind that day.

I have very happy memories of being read to – John Brown Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner is a book whose brilliance is undiminished by repetition. I could listen to it every day. I know, because for a few months when I was three, I did. Now when I read the book I still hear my Dad’s voice, particularly on classic lines like, “John Brown tipped it out again.”

Nowadays I just have my story tapes. And sometimes people at work read out important news items from The Age website, for example on Sophie Monk’s shock engagement (and end of) or Ricky Nixon’s disgraceful hair and conduct. Not quite the same.

Getting ahead of myself

Wednesday March 9th, 2011 in Audio books, narrators, Young Adult | 2 Comments »

While I was working my core on my fit ball (that is actually true!) I started listening to Joel and Cat Set the Story Straight, by Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow.

The book is dual perspective, with Joel’s story written and read by Nick Earls and Cat’s story written and read by Rebecca Sparrow. Happily, both authors do a good job as narrators.

The plot involves Joel and Cat writing a tandem story for an English assignment, with each of them taking turns to write a paragraph. This makes me extremely curious about the writing process for the book.

Did Earls and Sparrow use the tandem method to write Joel and Cat? Did they map out the plot beforehand? Did either of them make the other one change bits? Are they on together?

When I read books I am a terrible skipper-to-the-ender. I frequently go to the last page or flick through to see if a character keeps being mentioned. With story tapes you theoretically can’t do that. Except, you sort of can if you Google the book, or look at reviews on Goodreads, or look up the author on Wikipedia etc. Recently I have not been able to resist reading spoiling reviews/interviews/articles of the books I’ve been listening to.

So I am determined not to impact my experience of Joel and Cat set the Record Straight by reading about it. Dammit, I will form my own opinions of the work, and let the plot unfold at its own pace.

I am finding it hard to resist the temptation to Google. Very hard. Like my core. (That is not true, core is not hard despite aggressive once a week fit ball regime.)

The Accidental Billionaires

Sunday February 6th, 2011 in Audio books, Film, narrators | 2 Comments »

It turns out that sometimes the film is better than the book.

I really enjoyed the filmĀ The Social Network, but I am not enjoying listening to the book the film was based on, The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Monedy, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook.


– It’s very one-sided. The author Ben Mezrich has extensively interviewed Eduardo Saverin but has not had access to the other major players, including Mark Zuckerberg.

– To get around his lack of actual knowledge Mezrich overuses phrases like, “It is easy to picture” and “we can envisage”, and words like “perhaps” and “maybe” to cover scenes where he actually has NO IDEA what happened.

– Mezrich is very mean about geeks assuming that they are all hate themselves and are desperate to be cool. I know this is not true. He also assumes that, in the normal course of events, a computer nerd will never have sex with anything more appealing than a bin-liner. This is also not true.

– The narrator Mike Chamberlain reads some parts really slowly as though they have momentous import. Chamberlain would be better off reading really fast and mumbling in the hope that no-one would notice sentences like, “He forced his pulse to return to a steady beat, like the steady bytes and bits of a processing computer hard drive.”

This review says it all.


Wednesday January 5th, 2011 in Audio books, Memoir, narrators | No Comments »

Keith Richards’ autobiography Life was amongst the Christmas loot in our house and I’ve been reading it agog. Very interesting times indeed.

I’ve realised that I was amused rather than shocked when Keith Richards revealed many intimate details about his relationships in the book. Whereas, when I listened to Cleaving I was shocked that Julie Powell wrote so openly about her marriage breakdown and affair. This looks like a double standard – I think it’s okay for a man to write gleefully about fucking up relationships and being awful (with only token regret expressed) but I feel a ripple of moral outrage when a woman does the same thing. Something to think about.

On the other hand, Keith Richards is older and can get away with quite a bit of “It was a long time ago and I was on drugs”.

Following the trend for celebrity narrators for blockbuster books, the audio book of Life is read by Johnny Depp, which seems appropriate.

Omg I’m listening to Cleaving

Monday December 13th, 2010 in Audio books, Film, Memoir, narrators | No Comments »

Last month I listened to Julie and Julia read by the author, Julie Powell. I saw the film earlier this year and really enjoyed it mainly for Meryl Streep hamming it up as Julia Child.

When I listened to Julie and Julia I became curious about what Julie Powell did next. Typing Julie Powell into Google one of Google’s clever guesses was “Julie Powell affair”. I was intrigued.

I discovered that after Julie and Julia was published, which presents her marriage as an almost perfect union of two twin peas in the pod, Julia Powell had a scandalous affair and then wrote about it.

Combining the topic of her adultery with butchery she wrote her next memoir Cleaving: A story of marriage meat and obsession. This book has inspired much vitriol, and I became a little obsessed with seeking out this juicy and sometimes hilarious criticism. I read so much about it that I felt like I didn’t need to read the book, but I knew I would.

I am now being enjoyably and predictably outraged by the rampant over-sharing in the audiobook of Cleaving, once again read by the author. (Julie Powell is a good narrator.)

I’m now two disks in and I think I can identify a number of reasons why this book provokes such a strong (and sometimes ugly) response from readers/listeners.

1. It is fully disgusting. I guess you could say that it is explicit and lusty but I say it is gross. (Which I enjoy.)

2. Julie has some very messy, self destructive and hurtful relationships, but she doesn’t seem to feel much guilt about them. Any guilt she does feel she resents.

3. It’s all true. The mind boggles about how Julie’s aged relatives would respond to this book.

4. Julie is not very nice to her husband. And then she writes about it, revealing details that must be embarrassing to him.

5. The butchering bits are long and detailed and the metaphors are laboured and once again, gross. Sausages are shaped like penises. Yes.

I am loving being horrified by this book. I can’t wait to do the dishes so I can listen to more.