Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tedious Addictions

I'm listening to The Chocolate Lovers' Club by Carole Matthews read by Clare Corbett. It's about Lucy and her gang of chocolate-loving women who meet up in a chocolate shop to solve each other's problems.

I do not like this story tape, including for the the following reasons:
  • The main love interest is Lucy's boss. He refers to Lucy as "Gorgeous" and generally sexually harasses her in the workplace. Lucy considers this a good thing, because he is handsome, and because, let's be honest, all we girls secretly want to be the subject of sexual innuendo while we're typin' and filin', it's a complement!
  • The concept of chocolate loving as an addiction is eye rollingly stretched. The man in the chocolate shop is Lucy's "supplier". Her chocolate cake is her "fix" etc etc.
  • The narrator does bad voices. In particular, Lucy's love interest sounds like a total buffoon. His stupid voice makes it seem even less credible that any woman would want a bar of him.
Having said that I hate it, I have listened to almost the whole thing in two days. What can I say, I'm addicted to story tapes! Sometimes I try to stop but I end up shaking uncontrollably and running right back to my dealer (the librarian).

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I'm listening to Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations by Alexander McCall Smith. It's a collection of short stories and is read by "various narrators".

The blurb for the book is quite misleading. It refers to "hilarious stories" and I would not have described any of the stories as even amusing.

And some of them are quite sick. The second story in particular is unsettling. I was unsettled from the get go because the various narrator, Simon Pebble had a creepy tone (sounded like he might be about to say, "He looked down at his hands and saw the blood. Blood. Blood. So much blood. He screamed but there was no sound.") At first I thought it was an appalling choice of reader for a light-hearted McCall Smith romp. Then I realised what was going on in the story and I gave the narrator's inflections a big tick of approval.

Most of the the stories are engaging enough, but some don't really go anywhere. What carries the story tape is the various narrators who a really good job of making something out of not much really.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting started

I've just finished listening to The Women in Black by Madeleine St John, which I loved.

When I'm listening to a story tape that I'm enjoying I find it very hard to stop. I end up listening to them at inappropriate times. While in the shower (can't really hear), while doing my tax return (can't really concentrate), while getting ready for work (can't really justify the 35 minutes it takes me to eat a bowl of cereal while listening to an audiobook).

But now, having finished The Women in Black two days ago I'm experiencing story tape apathy. Heavenly Date by Alexander McCall Smith is ready when when I am and I'm sure it will be delightful but I just can't quite come at it. I just don't really want to listen to it, even though I know I'll probably love it when I do.

And it's at these weak, uncommitted moments that I turn to Toddlers and Tiaras.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Women in Black

I'm listening to The Women in Black by Madeleine St John read by Deidre Rubenstein (does good voices: from posh to stridently 'strayan, to hammily continental). It's about the lives of four women who work in the frocks section of a big department store in Sydney in the late 1950s.
I'd seen this audio book in the library a few times but passed over it. Without fully forming the thought, I  dismissed it as chic-lit. I should know better than this (as I've said many, many times, books about women are not necessarily bad) and The Women in Black is very funny and warm and well observed. St John is economical, yet interesting with words.

The only problem with listening to such a cracker jack tape is that it will be difficult to find something to follow it. I just want The Women in Black to go on and on.

Here is a sample.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who are audio books for?

When I was in high school I convinced a friend of mine who wasn't that into reading to try an audio book. She borrowed one from the library but she didn't listen to it. Her mum made her take it back because "the audio books are for deaf people".

According to my friend's mum, I may as well park in a disabled space without a sticker. But that isn't right (I felt that quite strongly at the time but couldn't articulate why). The car parks close to Coles have no capacity to increase, but the number of audio books can.When I borrow an audio book from the library I am increasing the borrowing rate, which makes it more likely that the library will buy more titles, which increases the resource rather than diminishing it. I'm a champion!

The sad thing is that my friend missed out because of her mum's prejudice against audio books. Her attitude is not uncommon. A lot of people think it's lazy to listen to audio books if you can read the book. But the truth is, not everyone enjoys reading. That doesn't necessarily mean they don't like words or stories.

Anyway, I can't read and cook at the same time. I need audio books.

*Update* Of course that should say "the audio books are for blind people". Giving an audio book to a person who is deaf or hearing impaired is just silly and/or mean.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My first story tape

My first ever story tape was an Enid Blyton Famous Five.

I was in Grade 4 and I don't know why I borrowed it from the library because by that stage I was in my "I only like books about wars and/or death" stage.

A couple of years ago I listened to a Mallory Towers story tape. I remember reading the series when I was a kid and thinking it was a bloody weird, but enticing world of midnight sausages and hockey. When I listened to the story tape as an adult I realised it's not just their timing of snacks that is strange - the plots are like a here's how of bullying and are very different to books written now.

In the world of contemporary Children's Literature: Kid is different. Kid realises being different is okay through appropriate role models and character building experiences.

In the world of Mallory Towers: Girl is different. Girl realises she should stop being different after being shouted at and excluded from the hockey tournament. OR Girl does not stop being different and is punished.

Anyway, back when I was in the Fourth at Newstead Primary School, my family listened to the Famous Five story tape in the car on the way to Wangaratta. It made the trip go a lot faster. Before I knew it, we were in Violet Town and I was a story tape lover.