Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh, for reading out loud

September 20, 1:10 p.m.
It is 112 degrees outside. 
The dogs are bored. They have all claimed their sleeping spots. They dream of cooler temperatures.
Sophie's spot is in the hallway that leads into the kitchen. She sleeps on the cold tile, and when she is awake, she monitors movement around the house.

Gus sleeps in the guest bathroom. Again, the tile is cool. He sleeps on his back, his paws stretched into space. A furry 110 pound dog struggles to stay cool.

Shado claims the foyer. More tile, so he sleeps on his side. He is our 'first responder', so he knows to claim the guest entrance/exit.

And Toby - the odd guy - he sleeps on the couch. He forgoes the tile just to be near. He is the smallest of our dogs, but at 60 pounds, he isn't ALL that small. Plus, he is an odd dog. Odd in the fact that he has never ever had a bad moment in his life. Even bad dreams turn out okay for him.

And I have been scouring through countless books. I am on the hunt for what seems impossible. On Wednesday, I am to 'audition' for a volunteer job of recording for the blind. My 'audition' is to read 8-10 pages of a book, obviously out loud. The pages must contain some dialogue and some descriptive passages. 

The task sounds easy enough. I love to read, and aloud reading is fun. So why is finding the right book so difficult?

I started with the idea to read an escapade from Robert Wittman's book, PRICELESS. But not all chapters have dialogue, and those that do often have phrases like "effets de soir" or artists' names like László Mednyánszky. These are probably easy enough to pronounce, but not something I want to tackle at an 'audition'.

So I moved on to another book I am reading. The Punch by John Feinstein. I'm still thinking about it... again, not too much dialogue strung together. For some reason, I turned away from it. But the story beckons me back.

I went on to the Time Traveler's Wife. But in my desire not to read aloud about underclothing or the physical body, I passed on this. Funny, I love this book. But I am not sure facing strangers and reading it aloud are compatible. 

I tried a Philip Margolin. It, too, left me a bit unsettled. As did a bent up copy of a Patrica Cornwell and then a Stuart Wood. 

So, right now I am leaning towards Michael Connelly's Echo Park. I found it on my back bookshelf. Plenty of dialogue, an interesting procedural, and easy enough to read aloud when I get nervous. If it gets nixed, I'll move on to John Grisham or Nelson DeMille or Brad Meltzer. For some reason, this genre seems to be a good fit for such an uncertain attempt. Dialogue, descriptive passages, easy to read.

If all else fails, I'll reach for one of the Larry Niven books. They never fail to drive me into the deep.

Or I'll curl up with Toby. I have never had a bad moment 
while curled up with him.


Ashley said...

Cute. I love that they all have their spots claimed. We finally have some cooler weather here in MN and the dogs are pleased! They hung out in the basement on the tile floor all summer long! Good luck with your reading!

altadenahiker said...

What a great project. Gets me to thinking which book I'd choose.

My sympathy goes out to the hairy beasts in your house. Tell me you've got air conditioning. Though I know, when we hit the triples here, a/c helps a lot, but things aren't exactly cool.

The Retired One said...

I would love to do something like dream job would be to do that for books on CD. ha

Joanne Casey said...

Let's subtract my local temperature from yours and split the difference :-)

Pat Tillett said...

It must be tought to not be able to take your coat off, no matter how hot it gets...

Stella said...

We have had temps here in MN today in the 50s to 60s. We love it, me and Stella. We will go walking in it tomorrow (up to 65 maybe!) Now this winter we will get to know what 40 below zero is, and thats when we STAY IN and find our comfy spots!

Jo and Stella

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Tobys a handsome fellow. Appears to have a bit of Queensland healer in him

Is Echo Park the same Echo Park in Los Angeles?

Sorry about the heat. Hope it comes to pass soon. And good luck with the reading although I don't understand why anyone should have to audition for a volunteer position. That just seems wrong to me.

Sandra said...

Jake is our ODD dog. he is like Toby, always near his people. baby sleeps anywhere she lands and does not care. when Jake plays tennns he lays on the cold tile until he cools down, heads for wherever his people are. toby's face made me want to kiss him. loved the descripions of dogs sleeping habits, very entertaining to me the dog person. love the title. good luck and it sounds like fun to me. something i would like to do.

BANJO52 said...

Connelly is the only one of your authors I've "read" (by ear), and I enjoyed him a lot. Can you do accents and all that jazz? I find that very impressive, even if it's professional actors. I suppose they simply ought to be up to it, but it still wows me.

It's interesting how much the spoken word influences the written word, in a variety of ways.

I got hooked on audio books a few years ago, and I think they're invaluable, even for sighted people. Good for you, choosing such a worthy project. Hope it works out.

AH, I have no idea what I would choose. What an interesting question.

PA, I have to disagree, on the grounds that the blind deserve competent readers even more than the rest of us. Yes, the fact that they're volunteers complicates the matter, but still . . . .

Brenda's Arizona said...

PA, I think the audition is to protect from bad readers, like Banjo said. Besides, it is impossible to fire an incompetent volunteer...

AH, tell us your list. Everyone, chime in! I'd love to know what each of you would read out loud! I sure was leaning towards a long Robert Frost poem, but returned to the books. And yes, Echo Park is the LA one. Makes it all the more fun! Plus, Connelly's sentences are short, well punctuated, and the thought pattern is easy to follow.

Simple, isn't it?

altadenahiker said...

Maybe Dorothy Parker. Sopmething with bursts of energy, turns of phrase, frequent punchlines.

Like Banjo, I'm a big fan of audio books and have great, great respect for a wonderful reader. Some of my favorite readers: Hannah Gordon, Prunella Scales, and some dead guy who read the Wodehouse Blandings Castle series.

Wodehouse -- that would be a good one.

BANJO52 said...

Tons of dialogue, I'm not sure, but here goes.

Alice Munro. Tobias Wolff stories. Raymond Carver stories. Charles Baxter stories, mainly from the book, Through the Safety Net. High quality stuff, but not too dense to be enjoyable or absorbed aloud. Munro might be slow, though I listened to one of her latest and was fine with it.

Faster pace: Elmore Leonard. Robert Parker.

Of course, the professionals have probably already hit all these.

Maybe not Baxter, and he's got some beauties. Do you think the reader and author need to be the same gender? I don't, and the pros do mix and match.

Whitemist said...

You like Larry Niven? I have never met someone else who does or even claims to read him.
Back to looking around at all my blogger friends

Barb said...

Put all the books in a row and have Toby choose one for you! My good friend is blind - she would appreciate your efforts.

Tracy said...

Good luck! It's a wonderful thing you are doing.

Kathy said...

My college sorority's national project is sight conservation and aid to the blind. The local alumna chapter here has a group that does reading. I've always wanted to do that but didn't want to have to join the alumna group to do it. Plus my eyesight is so bad I almost need someone to read to me!

Re: BBQ. Joe's Real BBQ, yes, in downtown Gilbert. Would love to come out your way maybe in a couple of weeks when the daytime temps are cooler for another BBQ experience and a camera walk. You can find my e-mail on my profile if you'd like to contact me.

sealaura said...

Hi there! Missed seeing your pups, life has swallowed me whole, slowly catching up on my blogs. It is hot here too, I really wish fall would start soon. Have a great weekend!