Voices in My Head
I am not the fastest reader ever, but I do retain what I read. I do so by hearing the text aloud in my head. This is particularly easy with a book with a lot of dialogue, but, for me, preferable to an abridged audiobook. With those, I tend to go only for full dramatizations of books I already like, or if an author is particularly good at reading their own material, such as Neil Gaiman. The downside of this method is that there are a lot of cartoon voices in the characters. Many of the women often end up sounding like the late Linda Gary, who provided most of the female voices on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Needless to say, she could make quite a bit of character variations in her voice.
Let’s take for example, Lewis Carroll’s The Complete Sylvie and Bruno, which I recently finished. It’s a very long book, so it took about five or six weeks to finish.
Here’s how I heard some of the voices:
- Lady Muriel: Kelly McShain in A Christmas Carol or (I think–the characters are specified by number) Breeda Wool in In Fireworks Lie Secret Codes
- Dr. Arthur Forrester: Ryan Artzberger in A Christmas Carol
- The Gardener and the Old Man: Oliver Reed
- The Professor: John Cleese
- The Other Professor: Richard Harris as Dumbledore
- Bruno: Billy Severn in The Enchanted Forest or Steven Warner in The Little Prince
- Sylvie: Lynn Frederick in The Amazing Mr. Blunden
- The Earl (Lady Muriel’s Father): Michael Hordern in The Wind and the Willows
- Mister Sir (The Narrator): Kind of wavered among Peter Greenaway, Michael Palin, John Flanagan in Brazil, and John C. Green (chair of theatre at Butler University). Sometimes maybe even Neil Gaiman, even though he still seems too young for the way the narrator portrayed himself.
I’m not so sure about the other characters. Sometimes it takes me forever to realize who the voice is. Michael Hordern comes in a lot when I read British literature. I think I heard him without realizing it for roles he actually played in Tom Stoppard plays, even though I was having trouble finding his voice from my memories of I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname, and didn’t realize it was him as Badger in The Wind and the Willows TV show until looking it up just now.