Thursday July 22nd, 2010

“It’s no fun hearing a story that’s really meant to be read.”

allenWoody Allen was recently convinced to record audiobooks for his four collections of humorous essays. Between this, Andrew Wylie’s foray into e-books, and the recent news from Amazon, I was worried that old-fashioned cranks like me, who believe in reading books on paper, were finally extinct. I mean, if Woody Allen is on board? But thankfully, Allen brought the crank:

I was persuaded in a moment of apathy when I was convinced I had a fatal illness and would not live much longer. . . . Many people thought it would be a nice idea for me to read my stories, and I gave in. I imagined it would be quite easy for me, and, in fact, it turned out to be monstrously hard. I hated every second of it, regretted that I had agreed to it, and after reading one or two stories each day, found myself exhausted. The discovery I made was that any number of stories are really meant to work, and only work, in the mind’s ear and hearing them out loud diminishes their effectiveness. Some of course hold up amusingly, but it’s no fun hearing a story that’s really meant to be read, which brings me to your next question, and that is that there is no substitute for reading, and there never will be. Hearing something aloud is its own experience, but it’s hard to beat sitting in bed or in a comfortable chair turning the pages of a book, putting it down, and eagerly awaiting the chance to get back to it.