Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Read You Loud And Clear

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm like a lot of people out there in that I love to read, but hate reading. Uh, wait a minute...how can that be possible?
Let me explain. I read a lot. I frequently visit news sites such as Newsvine and the Onions A.V. Club and Kotaku. I have several magazine subscriptions, and a stack of comics I can no longer keep up with that I add to on a weekly basis. Unfortunately, on the nights I do try to curl up with a book, it's everything I can do to stay awake for ten minutes. Not because reading or the book bores me. I am assaulted by so much material all day long that by the time night rolls around my eyes can barely stay open.
I also try to keep up with all other aspects of geek culture like movies, tv, video games and music.
Before the internet claimed my soul, I easily read a book a week. I took public transportation, and left my gameboy at home. I read as I walked narrowly avoiding passers by. When I waited for someone, I would pull a book out and let the time pass. I didn't jump on my cell and call everybody I can think of to waste a few moments with. Maybe Amazons Kindle is the way to go.
As hard as it is to find time for some hardcore reading, I'm also not much of a fan of audio books. I have gone the audio book way on rare occasions. I knew I would never read The DaVinci Code, but wanted to know what all the hype was about. I listened to it unabridged during my morning training runs. This was multitasking that I could live with. I'm toying with doing the same with Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged. It'll probably take me a thousand miles to finish the thing though.

I read World War Z by Max Brooks when it was released in hardcover. I love this book, if you haven't read it, you're denying yourself a good time. I actually wanted to read it again, but I've already explained my difficulty with time management, and stacks of reading material.
That's when I came across the World War Z podcasts. Thinking they were a related podcast, I downloaded them. (there are 10) The podcasts are excerpts from the audio book, are free, and they hooked me. The World War Z audiobook plays out more like a radio drama and less like a reading. Imagine an NPR show devoted to survivors of a zombie war. Max Brooks plays the role of the interviewer. His voice is pleasant and professional as he questions his subjects who walk us through the oral history from patient zero in China to the monument in Yonkers erected in our victory over the undead.
The subjects are not lacking in talent either. Alan Alda, John Tutturo, Carl and Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jurgen Prochnow and Mark Hamill who's voice talents are flawless are possibly the most recognizable names in the credits, but everyone does a great performance. You can find a full cast listing at the Random House World War Z page. Since the book travels the world, some of the accents may seem campy, but I think this is done more to give us a feel of the accent without making the dialogue incomprehensible.

This version is abridged, obviously the attention to statistics so important in the book are toned down. I also found myself missing the section of the book that takes place on a German sub, and a floating community of ships. I don't know why sections were cut, but for an audio book the budget must have been huge.
I listened during my commute, and the story is done in 6 hours.

Brad Pitt has won the right to produce World War Z the movie, and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, and many many comics) is currently working on a script.
The problem is, there is so much material, that nearly any story can be expanded to a film. Todd Wainios battle at Yonkers and his trek across America, or Christina Eliopolis' trials after falling from a plane over Louisiana swampland (if she does appear in the film and is not played by Christina Ricci then the casting director should be shot as a zombie), T. Sean Collins story of protecting the rich and famous holed up in a webcast paradise is also chilling enough to be it's own feature. Like The Walking Dead, World War Z would make an excellent limited series, maybe eight to ten one hour long episodes in documentary style.

World War Z is written by Max Brooks and published by Random House
Even if you have read the book, the audio book adds a different layer to the story and is well worth a listen.
The audio book won an Audie award in 2007 for Best Multi-Voiced Performance.
I have seen the audio book for as little as $15. at Barnes and Noble.
Download it from ITunes for $19., or torrent it (not recommended (ineedtosaythat)). You won't be disappointed.


Anonymous said...

I found this very funny..... and to comment on the love/hate relationship with reading: I spent my youth reading every single Stephen King book available and now with life so deluged by technology, I find myself reading the short synapses on Amazon.com on books I am thinking of buying/reading/ etc...I now get the jist of the book in 5 min and find myself not bothering to follow through and read it. I do recommend 'Brutal' by Kevin Weeks (Ok, he is an in-law of mine but the book is a great read) and besides I only have 2 autographed books, Kevin's and a great graphic novel 'Flood' (which I also recommend). Take pride that you know HOW to read! In this Paris Hilton-Olsen twins-VH1 Rock of Love-Favor Flav-celebrity fit club- world we live in, it is becoming frightening obvious that those of us who can read more than a Fruit Loops box are a dying breed. Going to the library is also a fading activity, lately, it's all old peope at our local library...now what happens when all those people are, er, dead? We'll have empty libraries dammit...! Oh wait...they can fix that by simply downloading some really good games on their computers....trappedinnorthcountry@yahoo.com

Mim said...

Thanks for the news about the podcasts. I LOVED the book!