I checked out an audiobook from my local library: Lafayette and the Somewhat United States, by one Sarah Vowell.
She allegedly works for radio.
She does not have a voice for radio.
I make allowances for the Northern Cities dialect, as heard by someone like myself, who speaks Midlands and hears a lot of Southern accents. I really do make allowances. There are plenty of people who are from New York or Chicago or Milwaukee who use their accent and vocal qualities pleasantly.
So trust me when I say that this woman has the whiniest, most annoying voice I have ever heard. When she’s not whining, she sounds flat, but in a whiny way.
Her voice also has that weird little girl quality, which can be a handicap to a middle-aged woman. Most people I’ve met who have that vocal quality strive to have a pleasant and perky personality. This person is trying to sound snarky and funny. Unfortunately, she sounds like a Halloween movie about evil dolls.
The audiobook publishers really did their best. They had actors read all the quotes. They’ve got a yummy French voice for Lafayette, a Southern voice for Jefferson, etc. But the other actors are so good, or at least so reasonably pleasant, that they make Miss Whiny sound even worse.
Listen to a voice sample on Audible. (This section is actually not as bad as the beginning chapter, to which I briefly subjected myself.)
I can listen to some pretty crappy narrators. Material and storytelling ability can overcome vocal problems or awkwardness.
What makes this audiobook so special is that she calls the Fathers of Our Country “terrorists.”
In the first paragraph or so. And she is proud enough to do it in her own whiny voice. Ugggggh.
On the dark side, my taxpayer money paid for this piece of library audiobook crap. But on the bright side, it was on Overdrive; so the county library system is only renting the crap temporarily. Someday, it will be gone!
There’s a better, recent biography out there: The Marquis, by Laura Auricchio.