I spent a lot of last weekend working in the yard in near 100o heat (just weeding and cutting things back), though I also packaged up and donated stuff to the library, Goodwill, etc. I went to two Goodwills on an emergency shopping expedition because Christopher suddenly announced last week that he'd grown out of all his shorts. At first I thought it might be due to his recent massive eating streak, but he's taller now and those shorts were all boys' size Small (ages 6-8). Now I'm surprised that didn't happen sooner...
I've been reading The Prydain Chronicles (Lloyd Alexander) to him at bedtime (we're on Book 2), and somewhere during the first book he'd suggested that Gurgi (the unidentifiable man-beast) might be a "mape." I brought that term up again last Sunday, and he laughed himself sick over it, totally forgetting that he'd come up with that idea.
Earlier this week, I posted up a Supernatural schmoop story about Dean reading to grown-up Sam. This is as good a time as any to go off onto a discussion of reading aloud.
I've read to the kids since they were babies, and still read to Christopher at bedtime because both of us enjoy that. I do "voices" when I read (HalfshellHusband does not), and sometimes that becomes a real challenge.
With the Dragon Slayers' Academy series, I did well with the first couple of books. Wiglaf sounded like me, Angus spoke slowly in the back of the throat, Erica sounded like Maggie Simpson, Mordred was a slightly British 1930's villain, Lady Lobelia had big, fruity voice (somewhat drag-queenish), Brother Dave had rounded pious vowels, and Frypot the cook was Cockney. There were a couple of random teachers, and when dragons showed up they talked too, but that was it. Then I got to Book 3, "Class Trip To The Cave Of Doom." Criminy! Every student and teacher at that school went on the field trip, and the Marley brothers alone (Charley, Farley, and Harley, all big and stupid) were bad enough-- all the other extras nearly killed me.
My limit for reading aloud on-the-fly is about 9 discrete voices, and this went WAY past that. A later book included a visit to The Home For Aged Knights, where I practically fell all over the arrival of the supervisor, Don Don, because he was Spanish and it was such a huge relief after all of those old men. I only have about 3 'old man' voices, and we'd run across at least seven of those characters by then-- I couldn't keep them all straight!
During this last year, I also read the third of the Emmaline And Rubberbones books by Howard Whitehouse. The regular characters include Emmaline (British girl), Robert (Rab, much less posh), Aunt Lucy, Lal Singh, Professor Ozymandias (from the American South), and Purnah the Chiligriti Princess (a tiny, fake country wedged in between India and some other countries. Its children sleep with knives under their pillows and can climb like mountain goats). This particular story passed through the English countryside (meeting up with fake cops, real cops, and bureaucrats), and then went on into Scotland and met up with The McGinnis and his inexplicably German wife. That is a LOT Of accents and voices. Strangely enough, what was hardest was shifting between the American Southern accent and the British accents. There's something more alike in how those dialects form words and cadence than you might expect, and there was always a muddy point in the transition. I can't explain it.
I mentioned this at work one day, and got into an unexpected discussion with a colleague. I knew that he and his wife read aloud to each other, and they picked their books carefully because many weren't well-suited to that. But I hadn't realized that they did voices, and what's more... that they CAST the voices for specific character types, and they always use the same voice for that 'type' regardless of the setting. For instance, the second random female in a story is always British-- so in reading the Stephanie Plum novels, Lula was British. The police detective is always from Boston, someone else is always from the South, and so on.
And I said, "Really? And this doesn't bother you, to be reading a novel set in England and have these characters show up sounding like they're from Boston and New York and so on when it doesn't match the setting?"
He said he and his wife found that "easier," but the whole thing was just bizarre to me.
Because what I was thinking, and didn't say, was "You find it enjoyable to totally destroy the context of the story you're reading?"
I know that's what it would do for me. The whole idea makes me shudder.
How would you feel about hearing stories read that way? Would that be fun, or just really distracting and ruin the whole thing? :0
Or would voices of any kind be distracting all by themselves?
Off to bed now-- lots to do on Friday, and Monday's a holiday. Hope to be cranking away on a few stories this weekend, but who knows? That Burn Notice story came to me yesterday morning while I was getting ready for work, and sometimes when I set aside time on purpose not much happens...