Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wallace Stegner

Blackstone has acquired Wallace Stegner's major works:

Angle of Repose
Crossing to Safety (abridged only)
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian
The Spectator Bird
The Big Rock Candy Mountain
A Shooting Star
All the Little Live Things
Remember Laughter

The only hitch, as you can see, is that Crossing to Safety was only available to us in abridged format. The unabridged recording will be done by somebody else. But it's still an exciting acquisition. Pity that a part of my job is having to read all these great books in order to assign them... Tough job, but somebody's got to do it! I'm looking forward to getting these produced, though the releases will have to be stretched out over time. I'll post when I hear what the schedule will be.

Waiting for Columbus Part 2

Well, I didn't make it. At the critical moment I was pretty well overcome. I tried to go back and redo it, exercising a bit more control, but it just came off as phony. So we left it as is.

Anyway, a beautiful book. I hope the audio comes across as well as the book deserves.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Waiting for Columbus... Thomas Trofimuk. I am gaga about this book. Tanya, my SO, flagged it for Blackstone and we acquired it. I read the first page and knew I had to record it--for better or worse! The day I finished reading it at home Tanya found me on the patio sobbing. It's a beautifully written study of madness, loss, grief and the triumph of the mind.

A naked man is discovered drifting in the Strait of Gibraltar and is rescued by the Spanish coast guard. He claims to be Christopher Columbus and is sent to a mental institution in Seville. A nurse at the institute finds herself falling in love with "Columbus" and his weird tales of erotic adventure and frustrated genius. Behind his extraordinary ramblings lies a profound trauma, the nature of which must be unraveled if "Columbus" is ever to rejoin the modern world.

It's not often that a book brings me to a halt in the studio. I can recall a handful of occasions. Many years ago, while recording the final chapter of The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, I had to stop at every other paragraph and go outside for air. Some time later I had the good fortune to record The Autiobiography of Mark Twain for the Library of Congress' "Talking Book" program. The chapter on the death of his wife, Livy, turned both myself and the engineer into snivelling messes. Certain passages of Alec Wilkinson's A Violent Act, recording in the wake of an ugly separation, rendered me incapable of proceeding. (Now there's a loss to audiobook-dom. This and Moonshine have been retired from the Books on Tape catalog. He is a wonderful writer.)

Waiting for Columbus may well enter that tiny pantheon of books that I couldn't get through without being enormously affected. We'll see next week when I get to the end.