The SFFaudio Podcast #093

January 31, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #093 – Scott and Jesse talk to audiobook narrator Grover Gardner about his long career in audiobooks and his work as the studio director at Blackstone Audioboooks.

Talked about on today’s show:
Blackstone Audio, Ashland, Oregon, The Story Of Civilization by Will Durant and Ariel Durant, the Miles Vorkosigan saga, Lois McMaster Bujold, Cryoburn, space opera, the Library Of Congress’ talking book program, Tiger Beat, Alexander Scourby, George Guidall, Displaced Persons, YA, WWII, Flo Gibson, Brilliance Audio, Recorded Books, the early audiobook industry, James Patterson, Books On Tape, Michael Kramer, Barret Whitener, Kate Reading, Bernadette Dunn, Jonathan Marosz, Tanya Perez, Oregon Shakespeare Theatre Festival, Southern Oregon University, Ringworld by Larry Niven |READ OUR REVIEW|, recording audiobooks under pseudonyms (Tom Parker, Alexander Adams), Star Wars, Anthony Heald, the Young Jedi series, Jonathan Davis, recording an abridged novel with sound effects (Star Wars), “hard abridgments”, “in the age of mega companies that shall remain nameless”, do bad books turned into audiobooks harm the audiobook market?, casting an audiobook narrator slightly against the book, digitizing older audiobooks, history, narrating non-fiction, Ross Macdonald‘s Lew Archer series, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell |READ OUR REVIEW|, Tai Simmons, using an iPad to read scripts, Blackstone Audio maintains an in-house pronunciation guide database, The Tin Drum by Günter Grass, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Simon Vance, Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick, Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Tom Weiner loves science fiction, Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, a new recording of a Robert Sheckley book is coming, Random House still does abridgments, Shelby Foote, Donald Westlake, Grover Gardner’s blog post on Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald wrote psychological mystery novels about families (he lets all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out), The Wycherley Woman, The Chill, John D. MacDonald, The Moving Target, The Galton Case, Black Money, the Travis McGee series, Darren McGavin, biography as a genre, Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw, Gildan Media, the Wallander series, The Return Of The Dancing Master by Henning Mankell, Haila Williams, Grover Gardner loved narrating Elmore Leonard audiobook, Patrick Obrien’s, Bernard Cornwell, Maximum Bob by Elmore Leonard, “a slightly square guy”, Harper Audio, Pronto by Elmore Leonard, Justified, the Inspector Montalbano series is “enormously entertaining”, Andrea Camilleri, the Toby Peters series, Stuart M. Kaminsky, keeping track of the character voices (by visualization), “I lived those books”, Fools Die by Mario Puzo, Kristoffer Tabori, what is Grover Gardner’s favourite book?, The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell (it’s Grover Gardner’s masterwork).

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #090

January 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #090 – Jesse talks to Hard Case Crime author and editor Charles Ardai.

Talked about on today’s show:
Hard Case Crime, Gabriel Hunt (Hunt For Adventure), BBC Audiobooks America, iambik audio, Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas (aka Charles Ardai), Audible.com, Songs Of Innocence by Richard Aleas (aka Charles Ardai), the best kept secret in the audiobook world, L.J. Ganser, The Confession by Dominic Stansberry, Money Shot by Christa Faust, Noircon, The Bobbsey Twins, Edward Stratermeyer, Titan Books, Choke Hold by Christa Faust, Porn + Mixed Martial Arts, “book reviews aren’t generally found in the adult film industry magazines”, the porn industry vs. newspaper publishing vs. podcasting, the Quarry series, Max Allan Collins, Road To Perdition, Dorchester Publishing, Random House, HCC is a NEW Lawrence Block novel, The Girl With A Long Green Heart, Killing Castro by Lawrence Block |READ OUR REVIEW|, Grifter’s Game |READ OUR REVIEW|, re-numbering the HCC series, “this is a book that demands a naked woman on the cover”, “this the nakedest cover we’ve ever done”, Getting Off by Lawrence Block (writing as Jill Emerson), paperback book, the Gold Medal books, Max Phillips, Dell Mapbacks, Ace Doubles, Robert Bloch, Nightstand Books, Robert McGinnis, Glenn Orbik, an upcoming HCC book (HCC-102) is a collaboration between two major writers one deceased one alive, Memory by Donald Westlake, SFFaudio Podcast #082, there is a ANOTHER NEW unpublished Westlake novel coming to HCC in 2012, The King Of Comedy, Honey In His Mouth by Lester Dent, hard core aficionados, The Dead Man’s Brother by Roger Zelazny, Will Murray, Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, Fake ID, Bust, Slide, Max, finding HCC in bookstores will be nearly impossible until January 25th 2011, The Valley Of Fear by A.C. Doyle is a well known public domain novel cleverly disguised (for fun), Gabriel Hunt: Through The Cradle Of Fear by Gabriel Hunt (aka Charles Ardai) |READ OUR REVIEW|, the tradition of dressing up old books with new art – conning the reader into reading classic literature, Edgar Allan Poe, Sherlock Holmes, the most hard-boiled of the Sherlock Holmes novels, the Lion Books edition of Frankenstein, the pulp tradition, being playful with the book-buyer, the first hardcover HCC, Fifty To One by Charles Ardai is a book for bookcovers, Subterranean Press, Otto Penzler, a hardcover edition of Memory by Donald E. Westlake, the new paperbacks (with Titan Books) will be trader-paperbacks, the mass market paperback business is difficult if you’re not named Dan Brown, paperback book collecting is crazy, who is modeling Naomi Novick, the Quentin Tarantino Roast, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Fade To Blonde, Witness To Myself, woman on the cover sells, The Great Gatsby, Cornell Woolrich, Quarry’s Ex, the new sexiness on the covers is because HCC won’t be sold in the mass market format, Jim Thompson, Fright by Cornell Woolrich, Stanley Kubrick commissioned Jim Thompson film script, Richard Stark, Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald E. Westlake |READ OUR REVIEW|, a sequel to Somebody Owes Me Money?, the nephew books, Max Allan Collins, the problem with James M. Cain, Jealous Woman, Sinful Woman, Black Lizard books, The Cocktail Waitress (an unpublished James M. Cain book), John D. MacDonald, knocking my socks half-way off, send Charles Ardai your suggestions and submissions, The Colorado Kid will soon be very hard to find (it is out of print), The Valley Of Fear (the HCC edition is out of print), where are the HCC posters?, HCC t-shirts, Hunt For Adventure will be coming in trade-paperback, Hunt Through Napoleon’s Web, Hunt Among The Killers Of Men, where is the adventure fiction section of bookstores?, “the coffin of Atilla the Hun”, Nor Idolatry Blind The Eye by Charles Ardai, Indiana Jones, Best American Noir of the Century, Otto Penzler’s upcoming adventure anthology, why are there no adventure magazines?, Five Graves To Cairo, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, Argosy, a Gabriel Hunt adventure magazine?, adventure comics?, Prince Of Persia, the Gabriel Hunt bible, Gabriel Hunt fan-fiction is a-ok with Charles Ardai.

The Great Gatsby and Grifter's Game

Frankenstein and The Valley Of Fear (a Sherlock Holmes novel)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir review of Downtown by Ed McBain

October 15, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

Aural Noir: Review

Here’s the first review by a long time internet ally, fellow proponent of all things Donald E. Westlake, and soon a guest on The SFFaudio Podcast.

BOOKS ON TAPE - Downtown by Ed McBainSFFaudio EssentialDowntown
By Ed McBain; Read by Michael Prichard
8 Cassettes – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books On Tape
Published: 1992
ISBN: 0736621423
Themes: / Crime / New York / Humor / Murder / Mistaken Identity /

Michael Barnes is in New York on business. He has a couple of hours to kill before his plane leaves. It’s Christmas Eve. When he stops for a drink, he finds a young woman very attracted to him. He swells with masculine pride. But soon Michael’s wallet and then his rented car are stolen – only to resurface on the other side of town in unexpected company – a corpse!

There’s nothing quite like picking up a book (metaphorically) you’ve never heard of and know nothing about and discovering that you’ve stumbled across a classic. This was my experience with Ed McBain’s Downtown.

A classic? Strong words, there, Trent. But I mean it. I just recently read Donald Westlake’s The Hot Rock, which I loved and which is considered the classic comic crime novel. Downtown is nearly if not just as good (although very different).

Our protagonist is Michael Barnes, an orange-grower from Florida who is about to fly out of New York City on Christmas Eve, after a meeting with his advertising agency, when he gets hustled by a gorgeous woman and her fake police detective accomplice in an airport bar. His drivers license, credit cards, and money now gone, he goes downtown to report the crime to the police, getting his rental car stolen along the way. From there, he ends up on the lam accused of murder, running hither and thither meeting all sorts of strange people and ending up in all sorts of strange situations as he tries to figure out just what the hell is going on.

Tempering this craziness is the fact that Michael Barnes has some serious emotional baggage–he’s a cuckold and bitter about it, has issues with his mother, and was scarred by his combat experience in Vietnam (although he’s not an offensive psycho stereotype, thank God). These emotional scars are played upon masterfully by McBain, for dark humor or for grounding moments of pathos as appropriate, and they give Downtown a humanity that makes the whole farce unexpectedly powerful.

I don’t know why Downtown isn’t better known. Maybe Ed McBain just pumped out so many books that lots of his stuff falls through the cracks while readers get stuck trying to read the 87th Precinct and Matthew Hope novels in order. Maybe it’s because nobody made a movie out of it (although see below). Maybe, and this is a strong possibility, the style of humor doesn’t appeal to a broad enough audience.

Whatever the reason, Downtown deserves much better than obscurity. It’s clever, witty, touching, and terrific.

That’s the book review portion of this write-up, but I don’t want to end without bringing up something that struck me while listening to Downtown.

With a movie director figuring prominently in the plot, Downtown is loaded with film references (including to Evan Hunter/Ed McBain films The Birds and Fuzz). A movie not mentioned is one that Downtown bears a great resemblance to–Martin Scorsese’s After Hours.

If you’re not familiar with this film (too few people are), After Hours is a comedy about a fairly-average Joe who meets all sorts of strange people and ends up in all sorts of strange situations in late-night Manhattan. Oh, and he also gets accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

The setting and several story elements in After Hours are very similar to Downtown. The style of humor (dry with repetitive absurdity) also bears a marked resemblance. Both even feature prominent references to The Wizard Of Oz.

Coincidence? Homage? Rip-off (I doubt that)? Subconscious borrowing? We’ll likely never know. But if you liked After Hours, you’ll probably like Downtown, and vice versa. And if you’re not familiar with either, do yourself a favor and check them both out.

I listened to the 1992 edition of Downtown from Books on Tape, read by Michael Prichard. When I started the book, I thought his reading was stiff, but I quickly recognized that he had done a great job capturing the somewhat-uptight, neurotic lead character. Mr. Prichard is also quite skilled in creating voices to distinguish the many other characters without resorting to ridiculous exaggerations or outrageous accents (in a book with a lot of ethnic characters, no less). Downtown is written in a highly rhythmic style, with lots of short sentences and lots of repetition. Prichard grasps this and captures the novel’s rhythms superbly. It’s a really good reading.

There are two other editions of Downtown (both available at Audible.com), an abridged version from Phoenix Books read by Stephen Macht and an unabridged version from Brilliance Audio read by David Regal. For the sake of comparison, I listened to the available samples of both.

Downtown is a lousy candidate for abridgment, but even if it wasn’t I wouldn’t care for Stephen Macht’s reading, which is overdramatic.

David Regal’s reading is considerably better. His interpretation is quite different from Michael Prichard’s, making Michael Barnes sound like a traveling salesman. I would have to hear more to have a real sense of how well this works but I heard enough that I think I can judge it a solid effort. Go with the Books on Tape edition if you can find it, but if you can’t, Regal’s version will likely do as a substitute.

Posted by Trent Reynolds

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