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Posts Tagged ‘audiobooks’

When Art Got Expensive, and Other News

November 25, 2014 | by

Retrato_de_Juan_Pareja,_by_Diego_Velazquez

Diego Velázquez, Portrait of Juan de Pareja (detail), 1650.

  • Finally available, after forty-one years: Gravity’s Rainbow, the audiobook. It comprises thirty CDs and is performed by a superhumanly patient soul named George Guidall. “How on earth, I wondered as I stripped the wrapper, is poor Mr. Guidall going to render the sudden outbreaks of crazed capitals, or librettos in which stoners with guitars pastiche Rossini, the instructions helpfully stating ‘(bubububoo[oo] oo [sung to opening of Beethoven 5th, with full band])’? He turns out to do it in a slow and deep-voiced manner, beneath whose calm avuncularity you can detect anxiety, even mania, bubbling but never quite erupting.”
  • New York has fewer used bookstores than ever before, and yet the Strand continues to thrive. How? It’s certainly cheerier than it used to be, which doesn’t hurt—before it was renovated in 2003, it was pretty bleak. “Like a lot of businesses that had hung on through the FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD years, it looked broken-down and patched-up. The bathroom was even dirtier than the one in the Astor Place subway. You got the feeling that a lot of books had been on the shelves for years. The ceiling was dark with the exhalations from a million Chesterfields. There were mice. People arriving with review copies to sell received an escort to the basement after a guard’s bellow: ‘Books to go down!’ ”
  • Meghan Daum on suffering: “ ‘The culture is obsessed with the idea that if you go through a crisis, you’re going to come out of it a better person,’ Daum says, explaining her frustration with ‘the pressure we put on people ... to have epiphanies where suddenly it all makes sense.’ This ‘redemption pressure’ is sentimentality’s aggressive shadow, a way of forcing people in terrible situations to make us feel better about what they’ve been through. But as she demonstrates in her essays, ‘sometimes you don’t learn anything. It is what it is, and there is no closure.’ ”
  • On November 27, 1970, Velázquez’s Portrait of Juan de Pareja became the first painting to sell for more than a million pounds. “It was finally knocked down for a staggering £2,310,000, almost tripling the previous world auction record for a painting. Even the most hardened dealers sitting in the audience breathed gasps of disbelief. Then there was a spontaneous burst of applause. The auctioneer left his rostrum, the painting was hastily removed, and sheer pandemonium broke out.”
  • A new service, Deathswitch, allows you to communicate from beyond the grave: “Subscribers are prompted periodically via email to make sure they’re still alive. When they fail to respond, Deathswitch starts firing off their predrafted notes to loved ones. The company now has thousands of users and effectively runs itself. Among the perks of a premium Deathswitch account is the ability to schedule emails for delivery far in the future: to wish your wife a happy fiftieth wedding anniversary, for example, thirty years after you left her a widow.”

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Man Pulls Sword over Badly Treated Book: Happy Monday!

August 6, 2012 | by

  • “Christopher Meusburger, twenty-nine, of St. Paul, Minnesota, allegedly threatened his sixty-two-year-old neighbor with a sword on Monday night after she complained that he mistreated a book she lent him, the Pioneer Press reports.”
  • A list of great lists.
  • The birth scene is now a staple of film and television, but strangely absent from fiction—sometimes alluded to in passing, but rarely dwelt on in closeup.”
  • The hardest and most frustrating books ever written.
  • Meet Bardowl: Spotify for audiobooks.

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    Book Perfume, Newspaper Dresses

    May 11, 2012 | by

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    Complexity and Contradiction; Reading Audiobooks

    September 16, 2011 | by

    I am an architecture student who is allergic to The Fountainhead. Can you recommend some books to counter with when well-meaning people, upon hearing that I’m studying architecture, ask whether I like it?

    Tell them to read Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, if only for the first sentence: “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture.” (I’ve always loved that beginning.) If you’re looking for a novel about passionate architecture students (and what becomes of them), try Peter Stamm’s Seven Years. It’s not as heroic or hot-blooded as The Fountainhead, but it won’t give you hives.

    What are your thoughts on audiobooks? I just finished listening to The Fellowship of the Ring as read by Rob Inglis, and his narrative performance—its so much more than a reading—brought the book to life in a way I never thought possible. Its so nice to be read to, isnt it? And yet its so rare. (Theres no denying it: literary readings are often boring; a good writer does not a good reader make.) And the best thing is, you can listen to audiobooks while running, walking, driving, commuting. Why havent books on tape become more mainstream? And, as more of a metaphysical question, can I now consider The Fellowship to be something I’ve “read”?
    —William

    A friend raised the same question yesterday. She’d just “read” the audiobook of Middlesex—but I say to hell with the scare quotes. If anything, I would guess, you know the text better for having heard it, without the temptation to skim. (But this is only a guess.)

    As you say, there is nothing like being read to. And my sense is that audiobooks are in fact very popular. I don’t read that way only because reading by sight is so much faster. But when “Selected Shorts” catches me at home, I can’t turn it off—even if (as sometimes happens) I don’t care much for the story ...

    Soon we hope to bring you Paris Review stories as audio files—stay tuned! Read More »

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