Some of you may have seen that our friends at Digiview Entertainment have introduced a new line of “bargain audiobooks”. You can buy single CD audiobooks two for five dollars, and longer ones are two for seven dollars. Finally, the same quality and cheapness we get from Digiview’s DVDs. Wonderful, right?
Um. Well. No.
Today I finished listening to Digiview’s production of Sense and Sensibility. It’s not exactly a full cast production, but there are two actors involved: the narrator, Claudia Tyler, who also performs all the female characters’ dialogue, and an uncredited male actor whom I swear I’ve heard on audiobooks before. Neither are English, but both are fairly competent and convincing. I could ask for more vocal variety from both actors, but you can tell characters apart just fine. The only serious problem is that both actors mispronounce words fairly regularly. (And I suspect that’s more a problem of rushed production.)
But the production problems are pretty serious. The ends of many tracks are clipped off — and by “many”, I mean more than half. Important bits of quite a few chapters appear to have been accidentally abridged. At least one track on the last CD seemed to have been sped up to make it fit. Most spectacularly, the seventh track of the fourth CD consists not of the course of Marianne Dashwood’s illness, but of static and bits of some radio station. And finally, the whole thing ends with the words, “End of Project Gutenberg’s text of Sense and Sensibility”, which in a non-Gutenberg project is a breach of Project Gutenberg’s terms of service, to my understanding. (Not that anybody would care in a non-money production, but….)
Yeah. Those are some impressive technical difficulties. And I speak as one who is extremely experienced with screw-ups!
Well, tomorrow I have a ton of billing to do, to the accompaniment of my second Digiview audiobook (Wuthering Heights, which I have sworn I will wade through before I die). This is pretty funny, as Charlotte Bronte apparently regarded Jane Austen’s work with abhorrence, as being produced by someone who didn’t have an ounce of real womanly feeling in her body. (Which just makes Charlotte sound even more like Marianne Dashwood, and probably made Austen laugh heartily from the hereafter.) I will recall Jasper fforde’s dictum that every character in Wuthering Heights needs counseling in anger management issues, and try to regard the characters with the same sympathetic understanding I give to opera characters yodeling their way to insanity. In short, I’m fairly sure that any audiobook actors will give the Gothic Miss Charlotte a good deal more sympathetic rendition than my mind ever has.