As I’ve previously noted, part of drafting my book involves recording myself reading newly written sections. From the outset, optimizing the sound of the text has been very important to me. And the only way to effectively tweak it is to, well, actually voice it.
As a consequence, I’ve many recordings of the novel’s final-draft sections which, because they’re locked down, are no longer of use.
Last year, it occured to me that edited versions of these readings could serve as the basis for occasional book “trailers.” And layered with music and visuals, they’ve proved to be pretty effective at this task.
The critical proviso then as now is to warn potential listeners that I’m a writer, not a professional narrator. But what I lack in rounded tones and perfect enunciation, I more than make up for in terms of definitive demonstrations of the novel’s prose rhythms . . .
“Ready, then, to tidy up?” The voice seems to come from everywhere. And though you’d like to answer No, the car-wreck curiosity is irresistible. Turning away is useless because youʼre already rubbernecking–even though (or maybe because) this freakish accident is your own:
In a swivel chair on an oriental rug, youʼre waiting for playback and remembering Steppenwolf: Well, you don’t know what we can find / Why don’t you come with me little girl? But on a different kind of magic carpet ride–one that’s the opposite of escape. The dimmed halogens at the edges of the studio spill tarnished light down the walls, yellowing the acoustic panels before smudging into shadows. This, even as the fixture above your chair blazes at maximum setting, containing you and the ivory-handled cane in a cone of glacial light . . . .
“Standing by for ‘Post-Modern Pop Song;’ digital transfer of original mix, yes?” The Engineer makes this question an announcement, his voice omnipresent between the monitors. Squinting through the Arctic light and beyond its glare on the control booth window, you see him silhouetted against the halogen-glint on all of that gear for re-polishing your past: Business-brisk, in service to the entertainment industry and bathed in the glow of his professional tools. Apart from a terse Letʼs do it, then, what more is there left to say?
And now you want a cigarette–for the first time in many years. Recording studio. Engineer. Hidden dread before playback. Making music means chain smoking–or at least it did. It’s Proustʼs madeleine-and-limeflower tea, but turned inside out: circumstances have conjured up a sacred object from the past. And though you try, you canʼt shake the desire because in addiction there is no gone. Absence there becomes abstinence; the dull ache of dormancy. Lou Reed materializes then, fading up with some mid-chorus advice: You’re still doing things I gave up years ago–which are true words in a truer song . . . .
You’re beginning to adjust to the disconnectedness at the heart of Studio World: A perpetual twilight between the centuries that might be anywhere. And yes, the time frame could be narrowed a little by identifying the modules and racked MIDI units. But the spartan trend in component design makes everything an echo of Jonathan Ive. Which is why the concept of Where is useless: The hardwareʼs international minimalism has eliminated any sense of “here.”
But all of this is academic because you don’t know the tech–at least not like you did.Well, after all, just look at yourself. And so you lean back in the chair: surrounded by speakers, wanting nicotine and free-floating in a cloudy pool of maybe 10 years. It occurs to you that your resurrection fantasy had always been much more specific than this–even as the details of how you came to be here begin to soften and smudge.
You’d written the hit song for a successful film. Except in reality you hadn’t . . . .