Monday, November 1, 2010

What the...

Well, looky here. Harper Audio seems to have purchased another one of my ancient recordings from Books On Tape. Years ago they bought my performance of John Irving's The Cider House Rules, which is still doing service on Audible and seems to be quite popular. I still get emails about it. Now they've hijacked one of my Elmore Leonard recordings. I think I did all of Leonard's books for BOT, and they were all a blast (though my favorite is still Maximum Bob, but that is long o.o.p.). Looks like Harper did some picking and choosing between various publishers' versions of these warhorses. George Guidall's wonderful renderings were done for Recorded Books, for instance, while I was doing the same titles for BOT. Those were the days of non-exclusive rights and you actually had a choice of narrators for some of the more popular authors. And if you're wondering who "Alexander Adams" is, well, the fact is that a lot of us freelancers used to change our names to avoid trouble with competing publishers, who thought we ought to be working exclusively for them--without the benefit of a lucrative contract, of course. Those days are gone, happily. Not that we cared much. I mean, who would have thought you'd get famous doing audiobooks? Seems like Harper might have put my real name on it, it certainly has more cache these days than "Alexander Adams," for what it's worth.

Books On Tape has retired about 90 percent of the titles I did for them throughout the 1980's and 1990's. Not that I blame them, they were old things recorded on tape, most of them, and fashions have changed since then, when it was a point of pride to tally how many pages you could read without stopping. And to be sure the audio rights have expired and economics argues against renewing them. Still. Some of the top-tier stuff has been re-recorded, most of it by Ed Herrmann. People used to tell me I looked like Ed Herrmann, back when I wore wire-rim glasses. "You look like that guy that played FDR!" Ed and I don't look much alike these days, but he's doing all my old books now, and doing them beautifully--the David McCulloughs, the Scott Turows, the list goes on and on. But most of the others have disappeared into the ether. I particularly regret the John Gardners: October Light and The Sunlight Dialogues. I was awfully proud of those. Boy could that guy write. And Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb, one of the best books I've ever read about anything.

I certainly talked at a good clip back then! I don't think I could do that now. I see from the cover there's a new series on TV featuring the main character. I hope it's better than that Maximum Bob series with Beau Bridges from a few years back. Eek.

Here's a sample I saved from Maximum Bob all those years ago. I still think it's funny, but then I'm biased.

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