Posts tagged with "audiobook" - Faerye Net 2013-05-27T19:37:06+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Bring Up the Bodies 2013-05-27T19:37:06+00:00 2013-06-03T03:55:34+00:00 <p>I am off series books. It&#8217;s been so for a time: my &#8216;to-read&#8217; list on Goodreads is a shocking 260 books long, and might be longer if I hadn&#8217;t preserved it by the expedient of a &#8216;to-maybe-read&#8217; list. Series addiction would send the thing spiralling out of control.</p> <p>But here I am, finishing <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'>Book Two</a> and <em>chafing</em> for the next. How did I get here? (Besides the exemption in my series fear for audiobooks, that is!) I have a sneaking fondness for <a href="" target="links">Booker winners</a>, so I was curious about Hilary Mantel&#8217;s <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780312429980'><em>Wolf Hall</em></a> already. The only thing I knew about it other than its Bookerness was that it and its sequel, <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'><em>Bring Up the Bodies</em></a>, were about the reign of Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span>.</p> <p>Now, I was rather interested in the history of the Tudors as a child, due largely to feminist-schoolgirl awe of Queen Elizabeth, but also due to morbid-schoolgirl fascination with messy history. I didn&#8217;t even realize at the time what messy history Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span> was following! Now, Henry&#8217;s story, his desperate quest for a legitimate male heir, seems to me haunted and beset by that of Edward IV, whose legally flawed marriage(s) created such a succession crisis. (See Josephine Tey&#8217;s <em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780684803869'>The Daughter of Time</a></em> if you need convincing that Edward IV&#8217;s overactive tendency to put a ring on it, not any evil of Richard III&#8217;s, overthrew his little son.) Anyway, I had a very shallow sort of knowledge of Henry VIII&#8217;s reign, just enough to school my family in &#8220;Divorced, Beheaded, Died&#8230;&#8221; and explain which queen was which when we visited England when I was 13. In college I learned a bit more by taking a class on Medieval and Tudor History of England.</p> <p>I never went in for the recent fad on Tudors, however. There&#8217;ve been some very successful book series and movie adaptations as well as the <span class="caps">HBO</span> &#8220;Tudors&#8221;, but I couldn&#8217;t summon much interest. Elizabeth, after all, is appealing to me &#8212; complicated, cagy, iconoclastic and independent. Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span>? Choleric, wife-killing Henry? Just a stage-setter, an interesting little soap opera backstory for my heroine. So it&#8217;s possible I came at <em>Wolf Hall</em> with precisely the right degree of ignorance and knowledge: broad background in the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation, enough knowledge of the course of Henry&#8217;s marriages to appreciate foreshadowing and see the other shoe about to drop, but enough ignorance to be constantly surprised.</p> <p>Mantel has chosen her hero so well: Thomas Cromwell, a low-born but brilliant man who rose to stand at Henry&#8217;s right hand. I haven&#8217;t read up on what&#8217;s known of his life yet (that might mean <span class="caps">SPOILERS</span>!) but he is a wonderful character for a smart, thoughtful novel (or two, or please soon, three!) on Henry VIII&#8217;s struggle for an heir. He&#8217;s an outsider but not: born in England but educated all over Europe. This allows him to see Tudor English customs as non-transparent, to show them to us and remark on them, without losing any credibility as a character truly of his age. He isn&#8217;t blindered and constrained to the life of the court, so this isn&#8217;t the familiar, gossipy soap-opera version of Henry VIII&#8217;s court intrigues.</p> <p>Thomas&#8217;s life story is interesting, and his upwards social trajectory is appealing to a modern reader who is unlikely to believe in the divine right to rule or the intrinsic superiority of noble blood. His background in Europe and his interest in the Tyndale Gospel and the reformation of the Church make Thomas a big-picture thinker. And somehow, despite my semester of Medieval and Tudor history, this big picture is one that hadn&#8217;t really sunk in. Henry&#8217;s desperate need for an heir (and obligatory assumption that the fault was in his women, <a href="" target="links">not in him</a>) was not only a catalyst but an <em>opportunity</em> for many. Henry&#8217;s easily mocked desire to cast off his first/brother&#8217;s wife constituted a huge challenge to papal authority at a time when many were already chafing to throw off Rome&#8217;s yoke. Thomas Cromwell, early (and secret) Protestant, smuggler of banned texts, reader of the Gospel in English, is the perfect character to lead us through this foment. This is not just about Henry&#8217;s heir or Henry&#8217;s bed: this is the end of the Medieval. This is the cusp of a new world.</p> <p>Mantel writes beautifully but often simply. Her style here, third person present and relentlessly Cromwell-focused (until the second book, she routinely uses &#8216;he&#8217; to refer to Cromwell whether or not there has been another masculine antecedent, which can be a trifle confusing,) serves the story well, lending immediacy to these centuries-old events. The narrative inhabits Cromwell so thoroughly that his asides, his incidental associations, become part of the fabric. His memories, images or words, bob back up in my consciousness a week after finishing the book, as they bob back up throughout the first and second book. I can&#8217;t wait to hear his voice again in the third.</p> <p>Also, how sinister and wonderful is the <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'>second book</a>&#8217;s title? Bring up the bodies, bring up the bodies, bring up the bodies&#8230;</p> Horror frames, revisited 2010-10-27T21:02:34+00:00 2010-10-27T21:25:39+00:00 <p>I wrote pretty extensively on the <a href="" target="links">use of framing in classic horror fiction</a> some time ago, and it&#8217;s returned to mind: I just started listening to an audiobook of <em>Dracula</em>.</p> <p>I read <em>Dracula</em> for the first time as a teenager on a trip to Wyoming, carting along the only copy the library had, a large print trade paperback. I read it (when I should have been resting up for the next day&#8217;s exertions) late at night, on the outskirts of a small town where nightly I could hear the howls of coyotes. It was delicious, and the large print, by increasing the rate of page-turning, perhaps added to the suspense.</p> <p>I&#8217;m rereading it, of course, for its own sake and mine, but this form was suggested to me by my dad, who said he&#8217;d listened to a narrated version of it once and found it fabulous. So here I am, sitting down to listen (and sew a button onto my coat), and I notice at once the frame story, a little introduction. I have transcribed this, because the first few online texts I consulted (for instance, <a href="">Project Gutenberg</a>) did not have this paragraph. Perhaps I had better research the publication history a bit!</p> <blockquote>How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made manifest in the reading of them. All needless matters have been eliminated so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of later-day belief may stand forth as simple fact. There is throughout no statement of past things wherein memory may err, for all the records chosen are exactly contemporary, given from the standpoints and within the range of knowledge of those who made them.</blockquote> <p>What a different sort of frame story this is! Rather than trying to sucker you into (as described in my previous blog post) a believable outer reality so that you will more readily except the inner story, it simply begs you to believe the inner story as literally true. Facts, not fancy. And how? With an appeal to documentation &#8212; since it&#8217;s an epistolary novel, hardly a surprise &#8212; and to <em>modernity</em>. We are understood to doubt the story because it contradicts our &#8220;later-day belief&#8221; (&#8216;latter&#8217;? Remember, I transcribe.) and the things which should reestablish the veracity of the narrative are &#8220;contemporary&#8221;. In the sentence, of course, it means contemporary with the events depicted, but I find the choice of word suggestive. We are meant to believe these things happened to contemporary people, something underlined by the next lines: &#8220;Jonathan Harker&#8217;s Journal: kept in shorthand&#8221;. Recently I heard this peculiar detail called out by my learned friend <a href="" target="links">Mike</a>: shorthand, at the time, was <em>modern</em>, a new technology of the pen.</p> <p>An interesting little frame, however it ended up inserted into the narrative. It draws our attention right away (as Mike drew mine) to one of Stoker&#8217;s thematic preoccupations: modernity. This little introduction prepares our minds just as we are about to meet Harker, with all his talk of crossing from West to East, his anxiety about the paucity of high-quality maps of the area and the timetables of trains. (&#8220;It seems to me that the further East you go, the less punctual are the trains! What ought they to be in China?&#8221;)</p> <p>Before we even begin, we have this reassurance, a hint of what is to be contrasted with all Harker&#8217;s comfortable, plausible, bustling Western modernity: a very British vision of the East as Other, irrational, ancient, threatening, full of Victorian fears. Such a reassurance, that these things did happen in precisely this way, carefully and rationally set down by modern, trustworthy sources (in shorthand!) is less a reassurance, and more of an invitation to fear&#8230;.</p> <p>I&#8217;m about to leave for <a href="" target="links">this year&#8217;s World Fantasy Convention</a>, so I may not blog any more this week. If so, I must make bold to wish you all in advance a spooky and delightful Hallow-e&#8217;en!</p> Anil's Curse 2006-03-17T18:16:16+00:00 2008-06-08T14:29:11+00:00 <p>A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of <em>Anil&#8217;s Ghost</em> by Michael Ondaatje, recorded on tapes. The reader was Alan Cummings, and he was perfect; I loved listening to the story, time-jumping and lyrical, as it trickled out of my boombox in his quiet, precise voice. By the second-to-last cassette, however, that voice had acquired an unnatural sing-song quality. Loud, soft, loud, soft, in a pattern my father says is caused by demagnetization of just one side of the cassette. I struggled through that tape, rewinding to catch every word. The last tape, however, was hopeless.</p> <p>Today, I went to the library to get the book on paper, and finish that last sixth of the work. What should I find, however? They have several audio copies of it! In looking for the CD copy, I found tapes. I paid my overdue fines, checked out my treasure, and rushed out to my car. I listened to almost half of the second-to-last tape over again, getting my bearings in the stream of words. I put in the last tape.</p> <p>&#8220;<font size=1>She</font><font size=2> left</font><font size=3> him</font> <font size=4>eventually, in </font><font size=5>the </font><font size=6>Una Palma</font><font size=4> Motel</b></font><font size=3> room in</font><font size=2> Bottega</font><font size=3> Springs. </font><font size=4>Left</font><font size=6> nothing</font><font size=4> of</b> herself</font><font size=3> for him</font><font size=2> to hold</font><font size=1> onto.</font></p> <p><strong>sob</strong></p>