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Writer's Block: Reading Aloud

One of the highlights of going to a literary festival is hearing authors read from their own works. What author, living or dead, would you most like to hear read?

I like this one. given that I've now heard Patti Smith read and sing her poetry many times, I guess I can move on from that obsession and think about whom else I'd like to hear.

I think that listening to Cormac McCarthy reading Blood Meridian could be very enlightening. he looked and talked like somebody's sweet grandpa on Oprah last year, I really wonder how this book unfolded in his head, and how the narration sounds to him. of course, the narration might not sound anything like him to him, but I'd still like to hear where the emphases lie and how one gets through the violent parts without their voice breaking.

otherwise, I'd like to have heard Samuel Beckett reading How It Is or Company. given he was Irish but wrote in French, I can't imagine my intonation matches his when I read them.

not that the author has the last say in how a work should be read. obviously not; reading is an eventful encounter between a reader and a text and writers know this. still, I'd like to hear how these books sounded in their authors' heads or at least how they would read them.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
oh, and Frank McCourt reading from Angela's Ashes or 'Tis, simply because I love his accent.
Nov. 7th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
almost as good
I heard Leo Bersani give a paper on Beckett's "Company" in Seattle in 1990, at a conference on "The Social Bond." (heey, were you there? in 1990?).

Anyway, Bersani quoted a great deal of Company, and his own text was very close to it, so that you couldn't entirely tell them apart. Plus he was such a great orator, actually reader--he was reading from his paper instead of speaking extemporaneously, since it was so carefully composed, but he did it so beautifully and dynamically. At the end, everyone burst into applause--which may not sound remarkable, except that he was one presenter among many that day, not the keynote speaker, applause was not the expected thing.

I'm fond of that memory, and I think of it often these last weeks, since my Theory of the Novel teacher is very into Bersani.

Sorry if I've told this anecdote before.
Nov. 7th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
Re: almost as good
I love Leo Bersani! And I love Ulysse Dutoit, but every Humanities student at Berkeley has an unrequited crush on Ulysse. he is exquisitely beautiful and a wonderfully generous teacher. I managed to take one class with each of them while I was there. they are both remarkable.

I've always been awed by their writing style(s). together or apart, they always manage to weave great subtlety into deceptively simple prose. it's just amazing. listening to either of them read is a rare treat. I'm glad you got to hear Bersani.

and no you haven't told it before, unless I've already gushed about them like this to you--if neither of us remember, it might as well have not happened, in any case. :)

Edited at 2008-11-07 04:12 am (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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