Friday, August 27, 2010

I’m sorry, I’ll read that again…

There are currently two audio book versions of The Einstein Girl on the market: an unabridged version in English, produced by Oakhill Publishing; and an abridged version in German produced by DAV.  Two weeks ago I took delivery of the former and have been listening to it whenever I get the chance – which usually means in the car going to or from the shops. Made up of 12 CDs in all, it plays out at 15 hours and 2 minutes. At the current rate I should be through it by the end of September.

My experience of audio books in the past has been very mixed. Carriers was brutally abridged but vividly read by the American actor John Glover (he who, in Annie Hall, said he wanted to die by being “torn apart by wild animals”); Omega was carefully abridged and beautifully read by the actor/director/screenwriter Campbell Scott. Other productions have been more workaday; and there is one I’ve never listened to for more than five minutes because the folksy intonation of the reader is just too irritating. My conclusion? A good audio book can work as well or even better than the regular kind, if it’s well done. A bad audio book is like listening to an opera performed by frogs.

Happily, the Oakhill production is a good one. It’s read by Richard Burnip, who is fast becoming a specialist in the reading/voice-over field. He has a beautiful voice, and one that is perfect for The Einstein Girl: rich in both authority and compassion. He is particularly good at dialogue, managing to lend individuality to each and every speaker. I  look forward to hearing what he’ll come up with every time I know a new character is about to appear. He even seems familiar with German - a small, but welcome bonus. Just occasionally I do get the impression that he’s feeling his way, that he isn't quite sure where the stress of a sentence should be until he gets to the end of it, or how the intonation should be handled. On these occasions he tends to slow down, perhaps to give himself more time. But this is a perfectionist’s complaint. If each sentence and passage were to be rehearsed and re-recorded until every last stress was perfectly placed, the business of recording (not to mention editing) would have to go on for weeks, rendering the enterprise uneconomic.

Meanwhile in Germany, Das Einstein-Mädchen is still clinging onto the Der Spiegel bestseller list after nine weeks, rather to my surprise. Every week I feel sure it will finally drop off, and every week I find it’s still there. In the hours before the new lists get published (on Wednesday afternoons), I must admit, I get quite tense – which, in the grand scheme of things, is a bit silly. 

3 comments:

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

This is very, very cool. I would love to get my hands on this. Audio books are a great joy. :)

Philip said...

I agree. But abridging is a delicate art; and, from what I hear, it's not always done as well as it should be!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh, yes, I agree with that, too. I've read some very poorly done abridged books.