Friday, October 16, 2009

people of the book-on-cd

Another long drive, another audio book.

I blame Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book for my speeding ticket on I-80.

Immediate thoughts: intriguing premise, a bit tangential at times, a bit contrived. The text dramatizes an imagined history of a Passover Haggadah discovered in war-torn Sarajevo in the '90s. In short, an Australian book conservator is called upon to restore it, and each of her findings—a stain, a hair, a butterfly wing—yield separate narratives that trace the manuscript's history.

For what it's worth, I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

A few other points of note:

1) I think I'm attached to the way words look. After hearing the name of a Bosnian character repeated over and again, I must've visualized the spelling. That's the only way I can explain how shocked—and disturbed!—I was to flip open a paper copy in a bookstore and learn that leading man Azrin was actually Ozren and I'd been mis-picturing him (his name) all along! Just one more element lost in the visual-audio translation.

2) If you're an actor and plan to dramatize a book about Jews that contains several well-known Hebrew words, find out how to pronounce them before you record. Otherwise listeners may find themselves shouting at their car speakers in frustration. Hypothetically speaking. (For the record, "Shabbat" is not pronounced "Shay-bot.")

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